In some aspects of life, finding your passion is quite easy. You may have a natural talent or innate interest in a hobby or activity, your giftedness guiding your pursuits. You may be passionate about certain people – your family or significant other. When it comes to our careers, however, passions quickly become muddied with the practical. While this isn’t always a bad thing, it can mean a swift spiral into job dissatisfaction, or a lack of enthusiasm for your career path. 

Many nurse practitioners I talk with find themselves in a passionless career rut. Once enthusiastic about helping others, the daily workplace pressures of life as an NP (EMR, billing and coding etc.) have resulted in disillusionment. Some nurse practitioners have never been passionate about their jobs, but rather chose the NP career path as one practical from an educational and financial standpoint. 

Whatever your reason for a lack of career excitement, you spend too much time at work to live in a practice rut. One of the beautiful things about life as a nurse practitioner is the number of ways you can direct your career path. Be brave and take a well thought out leap in a direction you find enticing. These 7 steps will get you started. 

1. Acknowledge the problem

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Are you arriving home from work everyday overwhelmed, exhausted, and not in an ‘I just had an inspiring and productive day’ kind of way? Do you feel burnt out or fed up with your job? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ more often than not, you are in serious need of some soul searching when it comes to your career next steps. There just may be a better way to work as a nurse practitioner than your current circumstance. 

2. Get inspired

Once you acknowledge your career rut, prepare yourself for change. An open-minded attitude is essential if you hope to find your clinical passion. Figuring out next steps can be an uncomfortable stretch. Making yourself available to new opportunities seems vulnerable. Decide for yourself that you really do want to make your career something about which you are excited. 

3. Dabble 

Among the first steps to identifying the circumstances that will bring you career passion is to know what you love. If you aren’t quite sure what will make you satisfied, start searching. Evaluate your interests and hobbies. If there’s something you are curious about, explore further. For example, you might consider job shadowing a specialty provider or volunteering for an organization that works with a particular patient population. Don’t limit yourself to the field of medicine. If there are other professional areas, personal hobbies or interests you might enjoy, explore these as well. 

4. Find a common ground

Once you do some soul searching and explore your areas of interest, think about how these things might tie together. Ignore boundaries that might become apparent. Sometimes, finding your passion requires thinking outside the box. Could your personal passions tie in with your professional? Might your hobbies align with a way to provide healthcare services? Or, perhaps, your passions don’t lie in direct patient care at all, but some other area of the healthcare realm. 

5. Forget the paycheck

If you truly want to find your clinical passion, you’ll need to forget the paycheck. Your new professional push may result in change in pay. If day to day fulfillment is your goal, you cannot place too much emphasis on salary. Some nurse practitioners will find their areas of clinical passion quite lucrative while others will give up salary for career enthusiasm.

Ultimately, you may need to make some sacrifices when it comes to pursuing your passion for the practicality of a paycheck. Overall, however, the thinking here is along the lines of ‘Is it really worth feeling miserable 40 hours/week to earn a few thousand dollars extra every year?’. 

6. Expect pushback

Change is hard. Period. This will be especially true for nurse practitioners launching out-of-the box endeavors or making sacrifices others might not understand to re-ignite career enthusiasm. Prepare for pushback both internally and externally. You will encounter obstacles. Set your sights on the change you desire and don’t look back. 

7. Make a plan

Dreaming big is only part of the battle for nurse practitioners looking to fall in love with their careers. Putting your dreams into action is the other hill to climb. Once you have a vision for a career you can get excited about, set a realistic plan for reaching your goal. What incremental, actionable steps must you take to achieve your goal? Make steps small enough that they are tangible and achievable. Get someone else who believes in you to hold you accountable to reaching each of these milestones.

What is your clinical passion? How do you need to change your NP career to re-ignite your enthusiasm? 


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