Remember when you landed your first job in healthcare? You may have been excited about the future and looked forward to going to work each day. But throughout the years, something may shift. Although it does not happen to everyone, it is not uncommon to get a bit jaded. Even if you don’t become completely burnt out, you may lose your enthusiasm for the job.
While some of that “new grad” excitement may wane, getting bored or jaded is not inevitable. It may take a little awareness and a few proactive steps, but you can keep that new grad excitement throughout your healthcare career.
Why We Lose Career Enthusiasm?
Like many things in life, your career may be most exciting when it is new. You might enjoy learning new things, the adrenaline rush of working in a fast-paced environment, and feeling you made an impact at the end of the day.
But years or decades into your healthcare career, you may not think you are making a difference as much. You might be performing the same duties, which leaves you less than challenged. Add into the mix difficult patients and long hours, and you may find you are not as enthusiastic as you once were.
How Getting Jaded Affects Patient Care
Patients may see some of the negative effects when healthcare workers become jaded. For example, when career satisfaction wanes, medical workers may leave their job. A study in the journal BMC Health Services Research involved 1840 healthcare workers. About one in six participants frequently thought about leaving their profession.
Those that do stay and don’t address their lack of enthusiasm for the job may eventually become burnt-out. Burnout does not just affect the wellbeing of healthcare workers. It also may adversely affect patient care.
Research in the journal Cureus found that the degree of burnout among surgeons correlated to the number of medical errors made. Also, higher levels of burnout among nurses was linked to increased hospital transmitted infections and mortality.
How to Remain Excited About Your Job After 10, 20, or 30 Years
Staying excited about your career is beneficial for you, your coworkers, and your patients. There are several things you can do to stay enthusiastic about your career for years to come.
Pay attention to how you’re feeling: In many cases, becoming jaded does not happen overnight. Over time, you may gradually lose enthusiasm, and a lack of job satisfaction may develop. Be aware of the negative feelings you have towards your job. Recognizing signs of dissatisfaction when it first develops can help you prevent becoming jaded or burnt-out.
Don’t plan your entire career: Keep in mind, medicine continues to evolve. You don’t have to stay in the same niche or area for your entire career. It’s OK to take a left or right turn and try something else. Having a general idea of what direction you want to take your career may be helpful. But being open to new opportunities may help you find new career paths that keep the job exciting.
Take time away from work: Regardless of how much you may enjoy your job, it’s essential to take time away from work to enjoy other things. We know how stressful healthcare jobs can be. Taking time away from work helps you recharge and relax. Creating the right work/life balance is one of the keys to maintaining job satisfaction and staying enthusiastic about your healthcare career.
Don’t wait until you have symptoms of burnout before you take breaks from work. Incorporate days off every week. If possible, take a few weeks off during the year. Make some time each day to enjoy something outside of work. Whether it is exercise, time with family, or just quiet moments listing to music, leaving work behind each day helps reduce stress.
Stay curious: Many of us go into healthcare excited to learn everything we can. But as time passes, the work can become routine. One way to gain back some of that new grad enthusiasm is to stay curious and continue to learn. Take classes, earn specialty certifications, and set new goals.
In some cases, a small tweak in your job duties can make things fun again. In other instances, you may want to reinvent yourself and try something completely different, such as a new specialty. Continuing to expand your skills and knowledge helps you grow in your career, increases marketability, and keeps things fresh.
Mentor: Mentoring a new healthcare worker helps you share your skills and influence the next generation of practitioners. Mentoring also helps you see things through someone’s eyes. It may give you a fresh perspective. Who knows, some of their new grad excitement may rub off on you.
Find the good in each shift: It may sound cliché, but take a moment at the end of each shift and find at least one positive thing about that day. Regardless of whether you are a nurse, respiratory therapist, or physician assistant, in any shift, good and bad things occur. It’s easy to focus on the bad, and sometimes we forget the good things that may have happened. It might be something big, such as participating in a code blue that has a positive outcome. Maybe it was a nice conversation with a family member or a “thank you” from a patient.
Make it a habit to think about at least one positive thing and jot it down. It’s easy to let the bad outshine the good. Writing down the positive experiences helps you recognize all the little moments that you are making a difference each day.
Working in healthcare is a rewarding career. But it also can be stressful and exhausting. It’s easy for the excitement you once felt to fade. But with awareness and by making a few small adjustments, you can keep your enthusiasm for your healthcare career long after you graduate.