Zooming Beyond Comfort Zones
by, 03-22-2010 at 12:51 AM (2937 Views)
He was 94, and at that age, my grandfather said, ‘You shouldn’t buy unripe bananas.’” Chris Tyler, an RN from Florida, wrote those words in an End of Shift article that appeared in our magazines.
Those words, along with the advice in our March 8 cover story, got me thinking about my journey as a nurse. If green bananas represent risk and hope, I’ve bought many of them in my life and been lucky enough to see them ripen to a tasty bright yellow.
I’m sure your stories have taken as many twists and turns as mine as you consciously or unconsciously took risks and followed advice of professionals. For example, career guru Donna Cardillo’s words encouraging nurses to keep their careers fresh and venture outside their comfort zones struck a chord with me. Every time I’ve heeded that advice, the rewards have been plentiful.
My challenges started early. During my sophomore year in college, I learned tuition and fees were going up. My scholarship and loans were stretched to the max. I was the oldest of eight children, and I knew my parents couldn’t afford to help me more than they were. Then, an opportunity appeared, and I landed not only upright but also in much better shape. The U.S. Navy Nurse Corps recruiter visited campus that spring, and I committed to three years of military service. The Navy paid all of my expenses for the last two years of college.
My tour of duty as a Navy nurse taught me more about leadership and acclimating to an unfamiliar culture than I would have learned as a new grad elsewhere, and I honed my clinical skills to a fine point under the tutelage of some of the finest nurses and physicians I’ve ever known. Moreover, I made friends I'll cherish forever.
Years later, I skyrocketed out of my comfort zone and accepted a head nurse position in a pediatric specialty hospital caring for children with burns. The four years I spent there probably did more to shape my personal and professional beliefs than other life experiences. I developed a deeper understanding of pathophysiology and the interdependence of body systems. More importantl, the children, their families and the staff taught me volumes about the strength, beauty and resilience of the human spirit.
I began writing for publication in earnest at that hospital, sowing the seeds of what would become my full-time career as a writer and editor for nursing journals and magazines about 10 years later.
At another point, I took a position that tapped into the skills and knowledge I acquired as a writer and editor at workshops and in a graduate program when the need for my position dried up overnight and I was laid off. I then wrote a proposal for a brand new job at the same facility, asked colleagues to advocate for me and presented it to the chief nurse. She shared my vision and hired me into my dream job, which included coaching and mentoring nurses who were preparing manuscripts for publication in nursing literature.
All nurses have stories to tell about the comfort zones they left behind on their career journeys. Tell us about yours.