I love the Olympics. The speed, the spirit, the heart-wrenching bios, the fact that watching these athletes is like an anatomy lesson on muscle groups not previously known to exist. I wish I could be an Olympian, but, since I cannot swim 400 meters, much less with any speed, I will remain firmly planted on my couch. As I was reflecting today on my new 24/7 hobby, watching the Olympics, I tried to pinpoint exactly why I love them so much. I boiled it down to two things. Passion and perfection. These athletes have devoted their lives to learning and perfecting their sports. They love their sport and approach it with intense energy and focus. As nurse practitioners who desire to excel in our practice, perhaps we should apply these principles.
Working as a nurse practitioner is technically just a job. But it can be so much more! As nurse practitioners we have the opportunity for a career that fulfills us, challenges us and enriches our life. Nine to five desk job.. no thank you. Working in retail health clinics and urgent care was a mind-numbing experience for me. Working in a grocery store clinic made me feel the opposite of passion…DREAD and UTTER BOREDOM. So, I made a change. If you don’t like what you do, fix it! I was able to find a new work environment in the ER that provided me with the challenge (and blood, guts and general grossness) I needed to thrive. Think about what kind of patients you enjoy being with, what kind of work environment best suits you and get the experience you need to make it happen. Have the courage to make a change. It will transform your “job”.
As a nurse practitioner, you must constantly seek new learning opportunities. Read articles, attend conferences (not just the ones in the Bahamas) and seek advice from mentors. Don’t prescribe a course of steroids for every rash you see in your clinic- do some research to get an accurate diagnosis. Have difficult discussions with patients. Identify your weaknesses (reading EKG’s anyone?) and start to work on them one by one. Challenge yourself to take on harder cases, spend more time on continuing education or work in a more demanding environment. Do you think Olympian Gabby Douglas woke up one day and just did a back hand spring? Well, she looks like she did… but more likely she started with a summersault. It can be hard to get your career off the ground as a new NP and to just get by as an experienced NP but if you want to be excellent you must put in some hard work and seek perfection.
The Olympics takeaway- figure out what you like to do and work hard. Take pride in your career and never stop working to improve your skills. Be an Olympian even if only in spirit.