How Nurses Can Find Meaning In Their Work.

Nurse / doctor headache and stress




People are motivated to take on a nursing career for a variety of reasons.

Once you complete your training, you want to find a job. Your primary reason for looking for work usually is to make money so that you can be independent and take care of your family. Not many of you work as nurse volunteers unless there is a specific reason.

When looking for work, you hope to find a job that will have good working conditions and a motivating environment that fosters job creativity.

Unfortunately, not many of us get jobs that have all those conditions. If you have that kind of job, than thank God daily, because it is not common.

The majority of employees have to meet their institution’s goals. Those goals may involve taking care of a large load of patients per nurse so that you constantly feel overworked and unappreciated.

After a while, you may not feel any joy in what you do and your work starts to become meaningless.

I’d like to talk about a few things that you can do to find meaning in your work.


  • Figure out what you want from work

When you applied to work where you do, did you have any goals? Was your goal just to make money, or did you have other goals like career advancement, self-improvement or learning new skills.

Once you figure out what you want from your job, then that will be the beginning of having a clear mindset and vision. With a vision, you will find that your work has meaning and despite the challenges that you will face on a day-to-day basis, you will not feel too discouraged because you have a goal that you hope to accomplish.

Here’s an example of a goal:  you must have two years experience as an intensive care nurse so that you can apply for your Master’s degree in a specialized area.

Another goal is being proficient in all skills with the aim of becoming a manager or leader of the unit.


  • Change your attitude

It may not be possible to change your work environment, but it is easy to change yourself.

Determine to begin every day with a positive mindset.

Focus on aspects of your work that make you happy.

This may include talking to your patients or explaining the disease process, if that is what you enjoy doing.

Some nurses’ love wound care and are extremely happy when they see patients wounds begin to heal.

There are areas in your job that you can enjoy, like the company of others, supporting your coworkers and making positive friends.


  • Reevaluate yourself and your employer

Look at your employers’ mission, and be sure that it resonates with you. Maybe your employer is all about making money rather than focusing on the patients’ interests; if that gives you an uncomfortable feeling, then you may need to change your job.

Take a look at your career and ask yourself what you want to be doing in the next five or ten years. Then take the necessary steps to make it happen or work toward your future goal.


  • Keep your options open

What is meaningful to you this year may not be meaningful three years down the road. Change happens daily and this affects us.  You may get married and decide to work part-time because of family commitments. Or you may decide to look after a loved one who is ill.

Your goals may also change, and you may decide to pursue a different path of nursing.

Finding meaning in your work is always important. The moment you think your work is meaningless aside from the paycheck, you set yourself up for frustration and unhappiness. If you are already unhappy, this will only get worse.


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  1. Loice says:

    I completely agree with this! As a nurse, I find it it exciting to learn new things and see my role on the unit expand!

    • Joyce says:

      Learning new skills and procedure can be fun and exciting. It’s great that you’re seeing your role expand as you become more experienced.
      I’m happy for you!

  2. ABSOLUTELY, Joyce!!! I love, love, love your points in this post. This is spot-on. Thank you! I think so often people say “I just want a job… I’ll do anything…” But that is not going to get us anywhere. We’ve got to have- as you share: clear goals, clear vision, clear statements of what it is we really, really want. When we have those in mind it makes it that much easier to secure what we want. Thank you for these valuable points. Great writing and great piece! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I love it! I will share this with my colleagues and connections. Have a healthy day! -Elizabeth

    • Joyce says:

      You’re right Elizabeth. Nursing is more than just wanting a job. We should be excited every day about our work.
      Thanks for sharing this post with your colleagues. Have a great day.