Ups and Downs in Nursing Careers

Ups and Downs
It Happens to the Best of Us!

Balance in my life has meant different things at different points throughout my nursing career.

There have been times where I was the nurse that came to work-did my work-and went home. Never committing to a project, helpful but not going above and beyond for my unit or organization. These were my earlier years as a nurse, while working nights, and focused more on my personal life than my career.

Also, I might have thought of my job, as just that-a job, not a profession or career. As the years progressed and I found more time for critical thinking and quality improvement at work, my focus changed. I became hyper focused on work, picking up hours, volunteering for multiple committees and projects, and figuring out the next phase of my career.

This is when I started to feel more professional and excited for my career in nursing. I discovered I wanted to make a difference on the unit. I wanted to develop more efficient workflows for nurses, design new ways to engage patients, and improve quality and experiences for both patients and my peers.

These challenges led me to gain certification in my specialty (Oncology at the time) and attended my first nursing conference. It was amazing! It inspired me and made me want to do more, and knowing I was not alone with the struggles my unit was humbling and helped me to see there was a bigger picture for patient care.

It inspired me and made me want tO BE A MED-SURG NURSE.

What is Medical-Surgical Nursing?

Fast forward a few years, I moved into management and into the world of Medical-Surgical Nursing. The spark I felt during those years continued and my ideas shifted, but just slightly.

I saw my role as a nurse manager, as an advocate for nursing staff. I continued to work on projects for patient safety and staff engagement, but also made sure to have the front-line nurses voice heard in meetings and in my actions.

As a manager, I also started a family and got very busy with my personal life. Again, I struggled with balance. I showed up, did my job, but was losing some of the passion, and my staff could definitely feel this.

I started volunteering with AMSN during this time, and it really helped to fulfill another side of my nursing life that I was not expecting.

It gave me back the spark I was missing during those years of little kids, diapers, childcare, and working full-time. I was able to step back from my daily tasks and critically think about our AMSN members and what they needed to be successful. In a large academic medical center, nurse managers do not always get to influence change, often they are told what to implement, when, and where.

Being a volunteer on the AMSN Scholarships and Awards Committee was a great way I could give back to the medical-surgical nurses and it felt so rewarding. If you have not applied for a scholarship or award, visit and see what we have to offer (see links below).

Not only is it great to receive an award, it is also great to nominate one of your colleagues. Then I was elected to the AMSN Board of Directors, which was even more fulfilling. After the last board meeting, I came away feeling energized, excited, and ready to tackle whatever event comes next in my life.

I know the work we are doing will help other AMSN members to take better care of patients, themselves, and hopefully fulfill their spark and love of nursing.

My nursing career has had its ups and downs, as many of yours have too. At times not knowing if I should stay in it or take a break. AMSN helped me to see nursing as a profession and understand that our impact is much larger than one unit, one organization, or one city. We are in this together, and we need to support each other through it all!

Please plan on attending our 2022 AMSN Conference and see if we can help fill your cup for nursing knowledge and support!

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