Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

A Nurse’s Hero Journey

Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz waking up in a new land, imagine one day you wake up wanting to be a registered nurse in a new world of health care.

As anyone who has read the Frank Baum classic, we know Dorothy sets out to find her way home after a tornado blows the young girl to the land of Oz. And nurses too set out on a hero’s journey after being swept away to the health care world.

In the first step of a nurse hero’s journey, there is a call to action. In The Wizard of Oz, a tornado blows Dorothy away to Oz. For a registered nurse, the call to adventure may come in the form of a desire to help others or a passion for health care. This calling leads them to nursing, where they can make a real difference in the lives of their patients.

Next, we have the threshold crossing where the nurse hero leaves their normal world and enters a new, unknown one. For Dorothy, she steps out of the black and white farmhouse into Oz’s colorful world. For registered nurses, when we step onto a floor on the first day of our job, we are met with excitement and overwhelm as we must adapt to a new environment and learn new skills.

The third step of the nurse hero’s journey is called “the road of trials.” This is where the nurse hero faces challenges and obstacles that test their skill and determination. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy faces challenges such as the Wicked Witch of the West and falling asleep in the deadly poppy field.

Rather than a Wicked Witch, nurses face similar challenges with bullying, lateral violence and enemies who do not want the nurse to succeed. It is also important not to

“fall asleep in the poppies” where you get complacent with your practice because, as a nurse, lives are on the line. Remember that you are always growing and learning.

After the road of trials comes meeting the magical mentor. In The Wizard of Oz, the mentor is Glenda, The Good Witch who provides guidance and support to Dorothy during her journey.

For nurses, the magical mentor is usually our preceptor and other nurses who provide us with support and guidance on our journey as we navigate our careers. This mentorship is invaluable in helping nurses develop their skills in becoming more competent and confident in their work. However, if your magical mentor is really disguised as an enemy, speak up and get a new mentor so that your journey is not derailed.

The final step in the nurse hero’s journey is the return home. This is when the nurse brings back the knowledge and skills they have gained from their journey to their daily world. For Dorothy, this is when she wakes up in her own bed, realizing that she has been returned home and that she had everything she needed inside her all along.

For registered nurses, this is when they applied the knowledge and skills they have gained in their work, improving the care they provide to their patients. It is also a nurse’s knowingness that you’ve had it inside you all along and that all the challenges and obstacles you faced on your journey was specifically in your path to lead you where you are now: a hero, a competent and skilled nurse, providing better care to patients and making a real difference in the world.

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