What in the world am I talking about? What’s with that title? Wrong question. It isn’t what, but whom. Let me explain. We all know who I am talking about. In high school, he was “the” man... the star athlete, the remarkable scholar, the ladies’ man…whatever he was, he was ultimately “the” guy. Now he has graduated from high school, and he is no longer “the” man, he is one of many. He is “a” scholar, not “the” scholar, for example. He has to accept and succeed with the transition from “the” to “a.” How is he to find resolve in that? How can he accept that? What is the process of rebuilding the ego, the recognition, and the accolades? How does one transition successfully from “the” to “a”?
This is my struggle, one of my #careercurveballs. For several years, I was “the” wound care nurse. I had the knowledge and I was assertive. I could speak to the problem and people looked to me for the solution. Because I was alone in my role, and somewhat overwhelmed, there was always a plan to have another wound care nurse or two, but for the first four years I was “the” wound care nurse.
Over that four year period, I trained nine employees to do what I do. Each one would learn and grow, but would then move on to another facility after only 2-10 months. This wasn’t the plan. The plan was to train and keep committed peers, not train them to leave. Of those people, some went on to work their own wound care programs in another facility. Some didn’t fit the mold I was looking for—motivated, inspired, driven, precise, honest, and transparent. Some just couldn’t stand to be around me after a while, likely because my expectations seemed too high and unattainable by anyone else’s standards. I may have overexpected I now realize. Strong and steady though, I worked through those pitfalls and remained “the” wound care nurse.
Only recently, have I found the right peers—both whom are just as committed to wound care and patient advocacy as I am. Hoorah! I think, I don’t have to do this alone anymore! This should be the best time at work since I started 5 years ago! How amazing to finally have some help, right? Right? Wrong. I am struggling more now, than I ever did when I was working alone. Why is it such a struggle for me?
It wasn’t until I recognized my ultimate problem with the situation, that I have been successful in working through the issue. Now that I have two peers working with me, I am finding it very difficult to say that I am “a” wound care nurse. Somehow it feels like a demotion. It should be a relief, but it just feels so… so less-than. In the past, when an answer was needed about wound care, I was the one people called. When a problem was identified, they looked to me for the solution. When I called the unit nurse, or the doctor’s office, or the staffing office, to clarify who I was I would say, “It’s Kristie, the wound care nurse.” People knew who I was just by me identifying myself as the wound care nurse.
Transitioning from “the” to “a” has been a challenge. It was one of the biggest #careercurveballs I have faced so far, because at first I resisted this change. I became disgruntled, arrogant, and entitled. My attitude was bitter and pungent. I had lost my title, and couldn’t regain my own vision, my focus.
No longer a solo player in the sport of my work, I learned to be a part of a group, a collective effort, a team. In order to continue with the zest and success I initially had on my own, I was forced to learn teamwork, collaboration, respect, conflict resolution, professionalism, and emotional intelligence.
I have had more personal growth in one year, than in all the years I worked alone…and that enhances my professional growth potential more than anything else to date.