Envy and Competition in Nursing

I’ve gotta admit when I’m wrong, and I’m wrong. I’m working to change my mindset and viewpoint on this topic and I thought I’d share.

I used to think nursing was a competition.

Who was on days, who was on nights. Who got this opportunity, who got that opportunity, who had what certifications, who did better on the test, who was smarter, who was more prepared and most of all, who had the most schooling. I’ve always felt this urgency of being better or being the best or having the most authority. 

When I started teaching nursing clinicals, there was a sense of “I’m qualified for this now.” There was a sense of authority I felt when I was selected for the position. 

But at my new job, not really that new having been here for about a year now, we celebrate everyone. There’s enough room for everyone. 

It has been a huge mindset shift. Appreciating everyone for the unique skills and qualities they bring to the table, lifting each other up, being thankful our patients are receiving excellent care outside of the competitive mindset. 

I find myself regularly asking, am I missing something? What can I learn from working with this person? Is there another way to look at this? Who could offer a different perspective? If I do feel competitive or jealous, I examine that – why do I feel that way? Why do I feel threatened right now?

If I could sum it up in one sentence, another nurses’ experiences and qualifications are an asset to the team, not a threat to me. 

I remember the first time I felt that PANG of jealousy – the feeling of a “threat” – that wondering if I’m good enough – feeling stuck – feeling envious of someone else’s career achievements. 

A nurse I had worked with for a short time had the guts to leave our tiny hospital to further their career and build their skill set. For a long time I thought to myself, I wish I could do that, I was so jealous. It took everything in me to congratulate her. It bothered me for a long time – then I remembered – anything is possible. I’m in control. I’m not stuck. I’m not a tree, I can get up and move. I can pivot.

When I heard of a friend going back to get their ARNP it immediately brought a sense of urgency – panic – am I doing enough? Am I climbing the ladder fast enough? Do I need to go back to school? What would put me ahead? 

There’s room for all of us. Someone else’s success is an asset to the team, not a threat to me. With some practice and some mindset shifting and a lot of gratitude, I’m finally in a place where celebrating others career success comes NATURAL. I enjoy it. My goal is to be everyone’s hype girl. It’s so much easier than being angry and feeling stuck and steaming with envy. 

Not only should we celebrate other team member’s values, we should LEARN from them. Listen to what they have to offer. Be grateful to have access to their skills, experience and knowledge.

It took a minute to figure it all out, but If I could sum it up in one sentence, another nurses’ experiences and qualifications are an asset to the team, not a threat to me. 

Am I the only one who has felt this way? Leave a comment below!

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12 thoughts on “Envy and Competition in Nursing

  1. Amy says:

    My boss used to tell me that my only competition was me. So true. We are always striving to be better. That is human nature or at least it should be. Strong work ethics will do that to you. 🙂

  2. Hedy says:

    I think about this situation “is my cup half empty or is half full?” If it’s half full, then I’m not worrying about what others do. If it’s half empty, then I try to compete with others.

  3. Norma says:

    Cheryl already said it. This is a great lesson not only in nursing but in life!
    When we can rejoice in another person’s success it makes us all stronger . Yes, it’s maturity and you’re blessed to have learned this now! You’ll be a great encourager!

  4. Kim J LeMere says:

    My favorite line: I’m not a tree, I can get up and move. I can pivot. It seems you did just that with your mindset. Your co workers are an assets and bring something to the table to share. I think this kind of thinking can only make a team, stronger and better. Wonderful post.

  5. Ell says:

    I totally get where you’re coming from. You describe me in my early career years. Get that degree. Get that job. Step it up. Take more call (OR). More more more. Then, like you, my world stopped. Dad’s diagnosis of lung cancer and 3 months maybe 4. Really evaluating life, career, family. What do I want? How do I want to spend my days/years. Losing our Dads changed our pysche forever (I was a young 33 and you much younger).

    Your blogging resonates with me and how my life changed with Dad’s diagnosis. Your summer plans made me smile: family. You can always go back to school when the kids are grown. You can always work more later if so moved. You can always go back to teaching later if you are so moved.

    Nursing is a wonderful career. There are so many options. There are so many angles. There are so many mentors. We can step back. We can step forward. And we’re always a team 🙂

    Hugs to you this fine Thursday!

  6. Susan the Farm Quilter says:

    Amy was right, your only competition is you!! Are you better at some aspect of your job this month then you were last month, last year?? You have your priorities straight…family then job! Your boys are growing so fast…it feels like Carver should be closer to Gannon’s age to me!! They need you now and you are are there for them.

    When I was 12, my dad went to law school and ended up being the oldest in his class, graduating just before this 49th birthday!! Those were three hard years, especially for my mom who was supporting two households (dad had to go out of state for school) on a teacher’s salary and dealing with a daughter just going into her teens!! My dad practiced law for 44 years before retiring at 94. We are not all promised that much time, but he loved what he did.

    Whether you get additional education or not doesn’t not change who you are and how effective you are as a nurse…you care about your patients, they aren’t just a “diagnosis” in 254-1, they are a person dealing with their diagnosis which is only a small part of them. The loving care you gave to your dad as you were caring for him is shown to every one of your patients in your care. Expand your knowledge when and where you can, just keep those priorities straight!!! All three of the men in your life depend on you!

  7. Carolyn says:

    I think the schools to some extent encourage that. Who graduated at the top of their class etc. but ya know what no one has ever asked me what my class standing was or what my NCLEX scores were!

    • thepinkshoelaces says:

      I agree! I look back at nursing school and half of my stress came JUST from competition with my classmates – why do we do that?

  8. Gayle Shumaker says:

    Been there, done that. Cheryl’s comments above sum it up perfectly. Whether you go on to ARNP or not you are a far better nurse for your patients. Sadly for the patient there are those who never reach that point.

  9. Joni says:

    This rang true for me. I became a nurse at 40, worked in ICU, specializing in wound care. My dad became a quadriplegic when I was 43; I followed him thru his 1 year of hospitalizations while working full time (ugh) and then we built a medical suite onto my parent’s farm house and now I live with and take care of him 24/7. I have never looked back and it has been 8 years of full on nursing care. He is now on a ventilator and I use my skills everyday. We have home health nurse training twice a month, so it keeps me on my toes. It really is strength of character to find your niche, be grateful and know the importance of you’re being the best mom, wife, daughter and nurse. 3 of my cousins went on to get APRN after they raised their families. Be gentle with yourself and proud of all that you’ve done!

    • thepinkshoelaces says:

      Thank you for sharing your journey <3 I know it was an honor to care for my dad as well but I sincerely admire your strength to care for him year after year. Thank you for reading!

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