Follow Your Bliss

I mentioned my first (of likely many) meltdowns that occurred last week. A large part of it was due to stress, exhaustion, financial concerns, self-pity, you-name-the-problem…

But part of it is due to a bit of a vocational dilemma I am experiencing.

I love oncology nursing. But what I love about oncology nursing is not the treatment. The treatment sucks. It is hard on patients and families and it can be downright toxic. I’ve been on both sides of the experience. I just went through the chemotherapy certification process and I am dreading┬áthe first time I have to give chemo on my unit. The more I learn about the treatments, the less I want to be a part of it.

What I love about oncology nursing is the patients. Especially the patients who are facing the poor prognoses with grace. And the patients who are facing the the poor prognoses with anger. I just love being with the patients. Which is hard to do when you have 5-6 of them at a time.

My proudest moment as a nurse was helping a patient prepare for the transition to hospice. This is a telling sign for my future. As is my anticipated DNP capstone of improving palliative care at my hospital.

When I started thinking last year about the next steps, I always figured I would do advanced practice oncology nursing because it would make sense to bridge from there to palliative care/hospice. But my palliative care nursing seminar is taught by a professor who is a certified palliative care NP. Who knew there was such a thing? Apparently I didn’t do enough homework before I gallavanted off toward the next shiny degree. Unfortunately my current nursing school does not offer such a certification. But there are others who do, who would allow me to do my coursework primarily online while continuing to work.

At the same time, however, I want to get my DNP. I want to use it for teaching and improving health care in whatever corner I end up. And I think my current school’s DNP program is excellent, so I don’t want to leave.

I guess I have some decisions to make. Continue on the path I’ve set for myself, or investigate the possibility of transferring the credits I’ve already taken to another school? Or finding a palliative care certificate program that I can do in addition to/concurrent with my current studies (because I wouldn’t be me without wanting MORE SCHOOL)? And in the midst of this process, how do I continue on my journey toward earning my DNP?

All I know is I’m not having fun. Nurse Teeny, who loves school and delights in learning, is miserable. Part of it is transition shock and I know I should just suck it up. But part of it is doubt and fear that I’m not on the right path, that I chose this one because I thought it was the “best” option rather than knowing it was the right choice.

I had lunch with a good friend this week and was telling her about my worries. She looked me in the eye and said “Follow your bliss”. I’m wondering if my bliss is waiting for me somewhere else. Or if I’m just being neurotic and restless, as usual.

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