Are you getting caught up in the metrics of your job? If so, you could be focusing too much on the doing and not enough on the being at work, which is not fulfilling for nurses who find true professional joy in making connections with people.

These connections can be varied, whether it’s a strong team of colleagues committed to a common goal of providing the best patient care possible, or a meaningful moment with a patient or their family prior to surgery.

“Focus on commitment, not compliance, in your work interactions and true professional joy will flow freely,” recommends Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC, a practicing nurse and professional coach known to the nursing community as Dr. Phyllis. She says professional nurses often feel so depleted because “we try to muscle through our days alone and exist in professional isolation.”

Make the Most of Every Moment

Dr. Phyllis acknowledges the competing factors of work/life balance that can make a nurse feel exhausted and failing before she even starts her day. She cautions nurses to compartmentalize single actions and interactions throughout the day to avoid overlapping unrelated activities—a success goal she learned from the late personal success guru Dale Carnegie.

“Be completely present and fully in the moment as you start your day, interact with your family, and get them ready to head out the door. When they are on their way and you are heading to work, transfer your energy to be fully present in what lies ahead—maybe it’s the patients you are expecting for the day or the projects you will lead,” she explains. She says the key to this is to be present and give all of yourself in each component of your day to avoid the guilt and separation of not giving the people in your life (including you) 100% of yourself.

A commitment to lifelong learning is a critical piece to this giving, Dr. Phyllis adds. She says the thought of being ill-prepared to give a patient their best is frightening for professional caregivers. “By taking the time to refine a skill, learn about a new procedure or even learn how to better resolve conflict, a nurse can fold additional successes into his day, which anchors him on his path.”

Reflect on True Success

By taking the time to reflect on professional and personal relationships in life, a nurse can take stock in what is truly important and look for ways to strengthen those connections, Dr. Phyllis acknowledges.

“As nurses, giving ourselves completely is a big piece of who we are,” she explains. “When the universe put out the call for professional caregivers, we answered the call. Therefore, when we practice our profession we are not simply working, we our living our soul’s mission. Taking time to reflect on relationships, our true measure of success, will keep us feeling fulfilled and remind us what we feel is truly important.”

Judgment must not be a part of this reflection, Dr. Phyllis cautions. “Take away the benchmarks to meet and the regrets of the ‘shoulda woulda couldas’ and reflect on all you have achieved—taking joy in the fact that you have been doing what you were born to do.”

As perioperative nurses reflect on the year behind them and prepare for a new year ahead, Dr. Phyllis encourages a sense of gratitude and faith. “Renew your pledge to do it all again the following year, not necessarily better but to be truly present to see your life as it unfolds.”


Look for more pearls of wisdom from Dr. Phyllis on her YouTube channel.

Don’t miss these exceptional professional development opportunities at AORN Surgical Conference & Expo 2016.

Pre-Conference Certificate Program
Understanding & Addressing Bullying
Saturday, April 2 | 7.0 CH

Free On-Site Workshops on the Subject of Mindfulness
Sunday, April 3  |  7:00-8:30am or 11:00 – 12:30pm
Based on Dr. Phyllis’ new book rediscover the Joy of Being a Nurse: A Holistic Approach to Recovery from Compassion Fatigue.

Free Career Coaching Sessions
4:30-7:00pm | Exhibit Hall
Stop by and ask Dr. Phyllis a career coaching question or any topic related to your career or workplace.


Help your teams build their interpersonal skills at AORN’s 2016 Surgical Conference & Expo in Anaheim, California, April 2–6. Register now»

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