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Is Your 'Side Passion' Actually Central to Your Nursing Practice?

You know that topic that you could kill 5 hours on YouTube learning about?

And those non-fiction books you love that don’t feel like work to read?

Maybe you’re really engaged in climate activism.

Or you’re excited about cycling and public transit networks.

Or you’re fascinated by food systems.

If you’re nodding along to this, hear me out: Whatever the topic is, maybe it’s not ‘other’ from your role as a nurse… Maybe it’s actually a crucial component to your practice.

I’m going to guess you’re attracted to climate activism because you KNOW that without it, people’s health will suffer.

And you’re interested in cycling and public transit because you are well aware that Americans don’t move enough - and for this, there are health consequences.

And food systems intrigue you because you have SEEN the cost of food insecurity in your waiting room.

The longer I’ve been a nurse, the clearer it has become to me that everything in our world touches people’s health.

Obviously, the food we eat, the medicine we talk, and the way we move is going to affect our health.

But then you also have the less obvious things: our political systems, our financial institutions, the cities that we design. All of these things also have a direct impact on our health and wellbeing.

Now as nurses, we can look at this and say, “Oh my gosh, this is completely overwhelming. There is no way that I can have an impact on all these different factors that contribute to my patient’s health.” And yeah, that’s true. You alone are not going to be able to address every facet of your patient’s life.

However, we can choose to see this multifactorial nature of health as rich with opportunity. There is no passion that is too far removed from your patient’s health to be worth pursuing as a nurse. If you are intent on getting kids to walk and bike to school more frequently, good on you. That is relevant to health. Make that systems change happen.

Bottom line: We need nurses everywhere making systems change in every facet of our society because it ALL impacts health. Never feel like you are stepping out of line because you are not using your technical nursing skills that you learned in school to affect change.

Your professional engagement isn’t limited to the place that cuts your paycheck. Your training, experience, and values - all the things that make up your professional identity have WEIGHT in the world. That’s leverage we should not ignore.

Our health and the world are deeply intertwined. Talk about sustainability in your performance review. Wear your scrubs to the city council meeting. Let your passion for racial justice shine through in your professional narrative.

It serves no one - least of all yourself - to create artificial bumper lanes around what is ‘work’ and what is a ‘side interest’. All of your passions and knowledge exist inside of you at all times, no matter if you’re on the clock. You might even leverage this interest into a career path you wouldn’t have thought to envision.

My passion for sociology and systems thinking is central to my nursing practice, as I work to train 10,000 nurses to change the world. What will your contribution be?

Psst! Are you on the Change Maker Essentials waitlist? If you enjoyed this blog post, you probably should be.

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