Finding where you belong

Image: Joerg Steffens | OJO Images | Getty Images

It seems to me that one of the biggest questions in nursing school is, “where do I belong?”  We’re all in search for that niche where we feel incredibly competent, intrigued, and truly motivated to work. But this week I discovered something new. I learned what it’s like to find out where I don’t belong.

So far I’ve rotated through a year of med-surg at three different hospitals, OB, and peds. I remember working through every quarter of med-surg thinking, “if I can just get through this, I can go to specialties and everything will be ok,” because I was certain that med-surg nursing was just not my thing. I envied my friends who thrived on the rehab and surgical units (and still do!), and wished that I could work and think as efficiently as they did when caring for their patients.

Just as I predicted though, when OB and peds came around I was in my zone. I loved every second of OB, enjoyed women’s health and pictured myself wanting to become a midwife. Then we started our pediatric rotation and I was sold. This was where I belonged. I loved the kids, I loved the hospital, and I loved that I finally felt like a nurse working somewhere I was meant to be. I knew it would be hard to focus on other specialties and rotations after finding where I “fit,” but I didn’t expect it to be this hard.

I just started my psychiatric nursing rotation. I just found where I don’t belong. I know there are so many factors that are playing into my experience in this rotation: wanting to be back on the peds floors, being in new territory, and not having gotten very far in our lecture on psychiatric nursing yet. But just like I had this gut feeling that I wanted to be a peds nurse, I have this gut-wrenching feeling that I don’t want to be a psych nurse. Don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost appreciation for all psych nurses out there – it’s just not for me. It’s a weird feeling being somewhere where, for the first time, I’m not eager to go to clinical everyday. Most of what we’re supposed to do on the unit is therapeutic communication – which is great and I’m all for it, but I just feel like there’s nothing I can do to help. Despite asking open ended questions, I’m just some random person passing the time with them – I don’t feel like a nurse. I’m telling myself, “if I can just get through this, everything will be ok.”  I know I’ve just got to do it and get through it.  And I know every experience we go through in nursing school is to help us through decisions like this, to give us a little taste of everything, and in the end it will make us better nurses. But knowing this doesn’t always make it easy.  So here’s hoping for a new (and better!) experience next week.

Nursing students: Have you found where you belong? How about where you don’t want to be? What gets you through the rest of it?

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