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4 Steps to Find Your Passion as a Clinical Leader, APRN, or PA

Posted on August 18, 2020   |   by   |   Advanced Practice Structure, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills APPs, Professional Development

4 Steps to Find Your Passion as a Clinical Leader, APRN, or PA

Author Jill Gilliland, President Melnic
Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC

As a Clinical Leader, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), or Physician’s Assistant (PA) you can find inspiration to engage in professional growth activities by tapping into your passion. Finding passion within your work allows you to pursue activities that are meaningful to you. Professional growth looks different for everyone depending on interests. Some examples include participating in quality of care initiatives, taking on a new leadership role, speaking at a conference, and many other areas of achievement in the healthcare arena. 

Discovering your passion can also lead to more satisfying and meaningful engagement at work. The first step is brainstorming.  To get your wheels turning—so to speak— sit back, practice stretch and deep breathing with a meditation app, and let go of all of the stress and “should haves” to help wake yourself up to new opportunities.. Then, explore these 5 steps to inspire you, allow you to know yourself better, clarify your intentions, set your goals, and get started. 

Exploring Your Mindset

Regardless of whether you are a seasoned leader or clinician, or just exploring options for professional growth, sometimes just getting started towards a new goal can be the most challenging. Mindset can either be the engine for change, or the chains that bind you. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” When seeking new opportunities, whether you feel adaptable or stuck, how successful you will likely be in reaching your goal will most heavily depend on mindset. 

Developing a growth mindset can be challenging. Prioritizing a growth mindset requires hard work and support, but the investment in yourself will be worth the effort. It is helpful to take small, baby steps when making a change or starting a new endeavor. This allows you to set small, actionable goals that will provide you with the motivation to continue when accomplished.  

How Do I Find What Motivates Me?

As you consider what your passion is, make a list of the things that motivate you. Here is a list of some motivators you might consider: 

      • Opportunity
      • Status
      • Money and material things
      • Challenge
      • Power
      • Praise and recognition
      • People to talk to
      • Outside group activities
      • Better working conditions
      • Identification with a group
      • Protection
      • Direction
      • Strong leadership
      • Peace
      • Standard operating systems

Build your own list of things that motivate you; these items are the foundation for finding your passion. They are the things that energize you to make change, have an impact, or get things done. Then, highlight your top 4. While the entire list represents your motivators, the top 4 are where to focus your time and energy today. This will help you clarify where to invest your time and energy. 

How Do I Find My Passion?

To find your passion as a Clinical Leader, APRN, or PA work to become clear about who you are and how you approach your environment. Take time to complete self assessments. Consider reviewing your results with a coach who can provide deeper insight into how you show up in your day to day. The assessment findings will help you become more self-aware in regard to characteristics you encompass, as and those you could work on. For example, understanding that you tend towards introversion and subversion, as opposed to extroversion or dominance, can help you to learn new, effective skills. Or, it might also be that these are characteristics you acknowledge do not align with your own personality and skill set, but purposefully seek out in team members.  Self awareness and clarity from this process provides the opportunity to be intentional about how you show up and where you invest your time and energy.

We at Melnic want to help you find the activities that are most satisfying to you and your career. We encourage you to let go of activities that you feel you “should” do, but that are not satisfying. If you are new to your role, we also want to help you get started with simple activities!

What Can I Do To Grow Professional As a Clinical Leader, APRN, or PA?

As you consider pathways to professional growth, brainstorm the areas where you see needs or opportunities.  Some areas to consider are:

      • Team dynamics
      • Quality improvement
      • Opportunities for informal leadership
      • Education
      • Research
      • Role improvement
      • Formal leadership
      • Professional association membership activities
      • Professional association leadership
      • Professional association project
      • Hospital / unit based project, committee or leadership
      • Role change

Build your own list of potential places to invest your time or opportunities for change within your work environment  Using a pen and paper, cross out the ones that do not make you smile or energize you. Those will not motivate you and will not align with your passion. Pick the one thing that aligns with your passion. Then, you can set goals to begin your journey of professional growth and achievements. 

How Do I Set Goals For Professional Growth As a Clinical Leader, APRN, or PA?

If you are a new nurse, APRN, or PA clinician or leader, select the low hanging fruit, aka or the one thing that allows you to get started. Do not be afraid to fail. Failure can be an opportunity to learn and start on a course of personal satisfaction and growth. You may have already had some success in your professional development, meaning that you completed something and it energized you, for your next goal,  select a bit more challenging activity from your list next.  As a seasoned leader, pick an even bigger challenge that excites you. Ideas include approaching the organization or association with an innovative solution to a problem, advancing your degree, or taking on a new leadership role in your career. 

Here is a Goal Setting Framework for Passion Driven Professional Development

    1. Identify supporters and stakeholders
    2. Find collaborators
    3. Pick a pathway inside or outside the organization
    4. Identify your support network
    5. Discuss the plan with stakeholders, collaborators, mentors, or team members, seek feedback
    6. Build a plan
    7. Identify who is responsible for each activity or clarify your role, responsibility, resources, and who the reporting/stakeholders are
    8. Execute and develop a written/visual/verbal communication plan

A.This may be just for your benefit or serve as a roadmap for the team

B. It can provide a group or personal accountability process

C. If this is a goal that does not require others participation, you can share your documentation with your mentor to review and provide feedback You may even identify other stakeholders who would benefit from visibility into your process 

D. Visibility is important, communication with stakeholders and supporters will have an impact on your process and outcome

9.   Review and update your goals and strategy regularly
10. Bring your goals to meetings, evaluations, and discussions
11. Evaluate the outcome, use this insight to set your next goal(s)

Start, fail or succeed, learn, grow, and start again. This is not about getting it right, it is about a learning journey to professional satisfaction, driven by the desire to utilize all your gifts and skills to have the impact you desire. 

The more you do this, the more you will inspire those around you to do the same. Consider these 4 steps a pathway for healthcare clinicians and leaders, including APRNs and PAs, to grow, contribute, and achieve professionally.

For more information on job opportunities, assessments, or coaching, please contact Jill Gilliland, President of Melnic, jill@melnic.com. If you would like to learn more, visit our website:

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