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I am unsure what I want to do with my career. How can I find my passion and something I will enjoy?

Thursday July 25, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I am a 30-year-old who has been a nurse for eight years. I have worked in oncology, psychiatry, telemetry and low level ICU. I am unsure what I want to do with my career. I thought I wanted to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner because I have found psychiatry interesting and the salary is good. I was accepted into a psychiatry NP program, but declined because I thought I would get bored. I thought being a family nurse practitioner would give me more variety, so I studied that for two quarters but decided I wanted to work in critical care first. So I completed my critical care certification and transferred to a very busy neurological trauma SICU. I think it is going to be too stressful for me, so now I am thinking about psychiatric nursing again. I can't decide what direction to go. How can I find my passion and something I will enjoy?

Wants to Find Her Passion

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Find Her Passion,

I think you already have found your passion in psychiatry, but are second guessing yourself and looking for guarantees. Psychiatric nursing is hardly boring — I have been a psych nurse and there are limitless ways to work in that specialty, especially as an NP but even as an RN. Just as an example, many psych NPs are doing counseling and training in disaster management, which is a growing field. They are also playing an ever expanding role in the hot and growing field of forensic nursing. There is nothing boring about either of those two areas. In many states psych NPs have their own private practice.

I suggest you further explore the psychiatric NP role (including the opportunities in your state) by doing some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with other psychiatric NPs successfully working in the specialty in a variety of roles. They are doing amazing work.

You also should attend local chapter meetings of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (www.apna.org) as a guest for now. This is a great way to meet other psychiatric RNs and NPs and see what's happening in the field.

Do what you are drawn to, rather than what you think will give you the most variety — the rest will work itself out. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and follow your heart and listen to your gut.

These articles might help: “To act or not, it's your decision” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/To-Act-or-Not), and “How to find your forte” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Forte).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.