Still a Nurse: A Shift in Professional Identity

Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

The June Reflections, “Making It Fit,” is a frank exploration of the ways health care professionals form separate cultures within each institution. It’s told by a newly minted advanced practice nurse whose previous job had been as a staff nurse in an ED. Now she’s taken a job as a psychiatric NP and finds herself on uncertain ground:

When I walked onto the unit my first day, expecting to be embraced by the nurses, I was dumbfounded and hurt that my own profession didn’t accept me with open arms. The inpatient unit is a melting pot of professions, and I found that I didn’t necessarily fit with the doctors, the social workers, or the staff nurses.

The author finds herself alone, neither nurse nor physician but instead something in between. As she describes her process of finding a new kind of nursing identity, she is very clear that this is not a case of nurses “eating their young.” Rather, it’s about finding a new normal. The short essay is an honest, smart look at career advancement and the associated challenges we hear less about, and is well worth a read.—Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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