Stretching our wings as School Nurses is challenging. Truthfully, unless your school district is decidedly progressive and forward-thinking, there is limited upward mobility in our career paths. I have come to understand that in order to grow I have to stretch out instead of up.
I was recently fortunate enough and honored, to be interviewed by an exceptional school nurse scholar who was conducting research for her Ph.D. She asked about “job satisfaction”, and that is where I first spoke about feeling like a “caged bird.” We were both taken back by the phrase, which led us down an unexpected path in our discussion.
The impact of speaking my truth about feeling like a caged bird is still with me and fuels much of the work that I do. I am very satisfied with my work as a School Nurse but feel limited in career growth opportunities. I imagine this is the plight of many Relentless School Nurses.
We work in an educational hierarchy that is structured to provide limited professional growth opportunities for school nurses. The frustration for me bubbled to the surface with a triggering question about job satisfaction, where an honest answer could be “yes” as well as “no.” But most importantly, the inquiry tapped an emotion that I had not articulated before that interview. I continue to reflect on what being a caged bird really means and how can I push my wings through the constraints of my cage and continue to grow out. One way was to start this blog.
Creating a network of Relentless School Nurses is at the center of my growth. It is energizing and invigorating to connect with like-minded nurses who are challenging themselves to step outside of their comfort zones and into a growth mindset.
Through this process, I have learned that while stretching up may come with a shinier nameplate, at the end of the day our real contributions come from stretching out. I am spreading my wings alongside the kindest, best, most dedicated, and the brightest in School Nursing. I feel fortunate and challenged.