Nurses are notorious for devaluing or diminishing their skills, experience, and relative importance within the healthcare team; “Oh, I’m just a nurse” is a frequently overheard refrain. This proclivity towards professional self-deprecation can begin as early as during nursing school.
Throughout the decades, nurses have been misunderstood and belittled by the media, and misidentified as sex objects, angels of mercy, and the mindless handmaidens of physicians.
The public may not truly understand everything that nurses are capable of, but most individuals who have come into contact with nurses will wax poetic about how nurses are superlative human beings for whom they have the utmost respect; this is reflected in the annual Gallup Poll that shows how nurses are seen as the most trustworthy professionals in the United States.
The untapped reservoir
There is no question that every nurse holds within him- or herself an untapped reservoir of their own personal brand of intelligence. While nursing students may not recognize this within themselves, it would greatly empower their educational experience if nursing professors and clinical preceptors would readily help them to understand and take ownership of their unique gifts.
As a nurse, you hold within yourself a form of brilliance that is unique to you; your brilliance may lie in emotional intelligence, clinical acumen, tech skills, communication, or problem solving. You may practice a form of nursing magic that readily calms the anxious, assuages the angry, or consoles the grieving; or you may simply have the gift of being the most supportive, kind, and compassionate colleague, even under the most stressful of circumstances.
Nurses’ brilliance and intelligence come in all guises, and it is up to each nurse to identify from where their brilliance emerges and how it manifests in their career.
Own your nursing brilliance
If you would like to identify and begin to more deeply embody your form of nursing brilliance, there are many ways to undertake such a worthy endeavor. The first step, however, is to acknowledge that you do indeed have your own brand of brilliance and intelligence, and that there is no shame in admitting such, at least quietly to yourself.
Look deep within yourself and honestly assess the forms of intelligence that you possess and that inform your nursing career or your nursing education. Is your strength as a nurse related to emotional intelligence and your ability to compassionately understand your own emotions and those of others? Are you intuitively talented adapting to new forms of technology? Or does your strength and brilliance come forward most in research, writing, or teaching? There are nurses with superlative skills as leaders, whereas others excel as administrators.
Owning your nursing brilliance means that you have clarity about what makes you stand out and shine as a nurse. Clinical skills are not what make a nurse; rather, it is the individual nurse’s singularly exemplary character, skills, or intelligence that make that nurse so special and powerful.
Gain clarity about the qualities and forms of brilliance that burn within you; bring those qualities forward, hone them, and be willing to embody them in the most powerful way possible.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, consultant, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.
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