Are you thriving or just surviving on the job?

Wavebreak Media | ThinkStock

Wavebreak Media | ThinkStock

We all have good days and bad days on the job. Feeling a little up and down about your career path is totally normal, but if you’re consistently negative about what you’re doing for a living, there’s a bigger problem at hand.

Can your opinion and mood be changed? Are your negative feelings something you can control, or are you just unhappy? The Nerdy Nurse took a closer look at how you might be feeling on the job and why…

In my encounters with nurses over the years, it seems that every one of them is either loving or hating their career choice. They’re either driven to succeed and feel confident that they’ve made the correct career choice, or they are going through the motions hopeful that no one will notice how much they loathe taking care of patients. I’ve met a few who are somewhere in between these two states, but with time, these nurses usually choose “a side” and consequently choose to love or hate nursing.

I say “choose” because I think our perspective of nursing is a choice. We determine how we perceive the experiences we have and consequently we decide whether we see nursing as an opportunity to serve and do good or as a burden that we wished we’d never heard of. Your experiences no doubt lend to your overall perspective, but I would argue that you control how you react to your experiences and whether you grow and learn or just shut down and stew.

Personally, I’ve been in both places. I’ve bee a motivator who has helped others see the light in the darkness and overcome a difficult situation. I’ve been been a leader and change advocate who raised the bar and helped others be accountable with me. But I’ve also been a pot-stirrer. I’ve fed a frenzy a time or two and made a difficult situation even worse.

I know that there are some situations in nursing that are terrible. I recall moments in my early years of nursing when I was bullied and cried in the bathroom so hopeful that the shift would be over as quickly as possible I could go home and get away from the nurses who were tormenting me. I remember being fearful to ask questions because a certain nurse might make a mockery of me or call me stupid in a public arena in front my of peers. I remembers shifts that were so long and exhausting that I stayed several hours after my shift was over to ensure documentation was complete. I had moments when I was merely surviving.

But I’ve also had wonderful and positive experiences with patients, nurses and other staff that I work with. I’ve shared wonderful meals, created beautiful memories and been made a more complete person by my experiences in nursing. These moments, any many more, are times in nursing where I was thriving.

Through all these ups and downs the one lesson that life has continuously tried to teach me is that you may not be able to control all your circumstances, but you can always control your reaction. And this reaction is what can make the difference between whether you survive or thrive in nursing.

They say attitude is everything. I think the person who coined this phrase surely had to have been a nurse, or at the very least knew a few. There are so many opportunities in nursing that you can interpret in so many different ways. I firmly believe that when you wake up in the morning you make a decision (consciously or unconsciously) about whether your day is going to be good or bad. It all has to do with how you perceive and react to events.

The secret of the universe is that it will bring you what you seek. The underlying rule of life is that like attracts like. If you are positive, and look for positive things, they will come to you.

I want you to get up tomorrow and the first thought in your brain to be, “Today is going to be a great day!” I want to you think this throughout your day and see how much better life treats you. I want you to look for good and you will find it. Because I want you to be happy. I want you to be fulfilled. I want you to thrive.

To read the rest of the post, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, tell us where you’re at and how you’re currently feeling about your nursing life.


The Nerdy Nurse

Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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2 Responses to Are you thriving or just surviving on the job?

  1. cinnybug LPN

    I have been a nurse for 2 1/2 years but prior to this career I was in management for customer service. I can tell you that this Nurse is spot on. You “choose” your attitude everyday. Like does attract like and attitudes spread faster than the common cold. Everyone from your co-workers to your patients can’t help but respond positively to a great attitude. This makes a huge difference in how your day goes. I also consider a positive attitude to be an obligation of nursing. By coming in to my shift with a positive attitude I keep the mental, emotional and physical well being of my patients healthy. My floor has fewer issues (falls, behaviors and yes, even illness) than other floors in the building. My aides are happier and work better as a team. There is by far less stress on my floor which makes for healthier and happier co-workers and patients. And, personally, this positive atmosphere is noticed by my supervisor who routinely will say that she doesn’t know how I do it and “what a joy it is to have me on the floor”. Needless to say, on my most recent evaluation, I was given a glowing report as well as the top raise percentage that can be given. My advice to anyone in this career is to avoid the negative “nellies” whenever possible. Do not enter conversations where staff is complaining about their jobs, days, patients, etc. (I do not socialize in the smoking area!). Strive to be an example of great nursing and “infect” those around you with positive thinking.

  2. Blueberry

    I can relate with this. Thanks for voicing it out in writing Nerdy Nurse.