Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Nurses: Are You the Captain of Your Ship?

The captain of your ship?  Is that you?

The ship captain analogy was used quite a bit in our recent retreat as it is applicable in nursing.

In law, “the captain of the ship” is a doctrine meaning that the physician is responsible for everything that happens in surgery.  However, I use the term to question whether you are charting the course and steering your ship where you want it to go?  Or are you allowing others to take the helm while you sit back as a passenger, just there for the ride?  Or do you have pirates aboard, sabotaging your mission and who you need to cast off your vessel?

There are 3 types of nurses.

The first type is holding on to the dock for dear life, staying in their safety and comfort zones.  These would be nurses who hate their job but will not move on to other employment for fear of winding up sitting in the unknown.

You constantly hear me say, “You can get another job . . . but you can’t get another license.”  If you’re holding on to the dock, staying with your job only because of loyalty but feeling that it is not safe to stay there, there is a whole big ocean out there waiting for you to discover.

So, jump in, get your feet wet and chart your own course.

The second type of nurse is the one who is out in the middle of the ocean, being tossed about by the winds, waves, and storms.  This is a nurse who goes with the flow and let’s everyone else contribute to decide her future rather than taking the helm herself and charting the course for where she wants to go.

The “Captain of the Ship” is the third type of nurse who is firmly in control of the craft, charts the course she wants and takes the actions to get there.

This could be a nurse climbing the clinical ladder by continuing her education, but is happy with where they are, happy with their career and steering their ship to their own destination.

There are places like this in nursing where you can be the captain of your ship, feeling good about what you are doing.  Now, it would be nice if all nurses were captains of their ships and not letting the hospital or other circumstances deflect them in other directions.

Food for thought: which type of nurse are YOU?  Let me hear your comments below.  If you are not Captain of your Ship, what are you doing to regain control and chart your course where you want to go?


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