Episode 168: Career identity, transition and avoiding burnout – with Susan Pasley of In The Business Of Nursing

Realising you’re not happy in your career is one thing, but how do you work out what else you can do and find a career that is more suited to you, especially when your identity is so wrapped up in your current career?

Susan Pasley was unhappy as a bedside nurse so transitioned to working in a business where she could still use her nursing skills. 

She explains the transferable skills that nurses have, the opportunities nurses have for side hustles, and how to make the transition from bedside nursing to business. 

And even if you’re not a nurse, there’s plenty of advice which will relate to you no matter what career you’re currently in.

Today’s guest

Susan Pasley of In The Business Of Nursing

Website: In the Business of Nursing

LinkedIn: Susan Pasley

Susan Pasley, Chief Nursing Officer at CareRev, is a registered nurse with extensive experience in the emergency department and with healthcare SaaS organisations.  Before joining the CareRev team, she was the Senior Director of Clinical Solutions at a healthcare software company focused on clinical and sales strategy and improving care transitions through developing and implementing care coordination software.

Susan is also passionate about improving the patient and caregiver experience and spent five years in various roles at Press Ganey Associates.  She focused on using survey data analytics to improve performance at hospitals and health systems.  Susan was also responsible for driving the clinical implementation, onboarding and engagement process with clients nationwide before managing a team of advisors to service clients on the West Coast. 

Susan is an Indiana University School of Nursing graduate based in north central Indiana.  She received her Master of Science degree in nursing business and health systems with a concentration in public policy from the University of Michigan. Susan enjoys spending time with her three daughters in her spare time, boating on Lake Michigan and travelling to sunny, tropical destinations.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:56] How Susan transitioned from bedside nurse to the business world.
  • [3:54] How to transition from a nurse role to working in business.
  • [5:44] What attracts people to a career in nursing.
  • [8:58] The emotional and physical toll of working in healthcare.
  • [10:20] The lack of education new nurses receive around burnout and self care.
  • [14:11] Why Susan transitioned from a nursing career.
  • [21:52] Why being a bedside nurse is such a rewarding career.
  • [24:07] What to do if your identity is based on a career you’re unhappy in.
  • [29:45] How colleagues respond to nurses who stop practising nursing.
  • [31:06] Identifying your transferable skills.
  • [35:44] The first step to change a career that’s wrapped up with your identity.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 168: Career identity, transition and avoiding burnout - with Susan Pasley of In The Business Of Nursing

Jeremy Cline 0:00
Nurses, teachers, police, firefighters, all really vital professions are also really stressful. If you're in one of these professions or any profession where it's really wrapped up with your identity, and you want to change, but you just don't know what you could do, I mean, it's all you've ever done, well, how do you start figuring out what you could do? That's what we talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:43
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. And don't forget to subscribe to the show, if you haven't already. Whatever app you use, there'll be a plus or Follow or Subscribe button. So, make sure you subscribe so you never miss an episode. I am in awe of anyone who is or wants to become a nurse. It has to be one of the most important and yet also underrated jobs out there. But it isn't for everyone. And I know there are plenty of nurses and other medical professionals out there who might love their job, but it's burning them out. And they're looking for change. And it's not just nurses, I could equally be talking about teachers. So, what options are out there? How can you find a career which keeps the elements which attracted you in the first place, but is more suited to you? My guest this week is Susan Pasley. Susan made the transition from bedside to business 11 years ago, and she now helps others to do the same. Susan, welcome to the podcast.

Susan Pasley 1:52
Thank you, Jeremy. I'm so excited to be here today.

Jeremy Cline 1:55
So, I've somewhat vaguely described how you went from bedside to business. What was it that you transitioned into?

Susan Pasley 2:03
Yeah, so in 2012, I was a bedside nurse in the emergency department, and I made a pretty gigantic leap at the time, and actually started working for a company that provides patient experience surveying to all of us patients that seek care in a wide variety of different care settings, and really became an advisor to hospitals and health systems to help them understand how they could provide a better patient experience for all of us as patients. I loved that work and did it for about five years. But I have done it for companies since I left the bedside, and have really focused on how do we use technology to help solve some of the really big problems that we have in the healthcare system. I currently am the chief nursing officer of a healthcare technology company that provides marketplace solution for nurses who are looking to pick up extra shifts, and hospitals and health systems who don't have all of the staff that they need, we provide that connector to pair them up, so that we can ensure, on the hospital side, that every patient who is sitting in a bed has the caregivers that they need to provide quality and safe patient care, and on the nurse side, when nurses want to pick up extra shifts, or maybe keep their skills sharp, even if they've stepped away from a full-time job in the hospital, they have through our application an opportunity to do that.

Jeremy Cline 3:41
Right. Well, I definitely want to talk about your transition in 2012. But before we do that, I mentioned that you also help others transition from nursing. Can you talk a little bit more about that side of things?

Susan Pasley 3:52
Certainly, Jeremy. So, I'm actually really excited because just this month, a colleague and I launched a website called inthebusinessofnursing.com. And we hope to also launch a podcast in October. But we recognised that there are a lot of nurses who are at the bedside currently, just like we were at one point, who are burnt out or really looking to expand their opportunities in healthcare outside of the hospital. And we frequently would get folks who said to us, 'How did you do what you did? That seems like such a major shift. Can you help me do something similar?' And we have done that for friends, family, acquaintances who actually have connected to us via LinkedIn. And we recognised that, post-pandemic, the need for this type of a service is even greater than it was pre-pandemic, and so we have a website with a blog where you can get information, we also have a cohort style course that we put folks through, that's eight weeks long, kind of hold your hand from everything at the beginning, which starts with really understanding how your skills translate into other career opportunities, all the way through to making that transition. Because let me tell you, Jeremy, making that transition from being a bedside nurse to maybe being in the business world is truly a transition that you have to consciously think about, and everything in between. So, we are very excited and hope that it's a valuable resource to other healthcare professionals who are really looking to make a change.

Jeremy Cline 5:38
What was it that got you into nursing in the first place?

Susan Pasley 5:42
So, Jeremy, I always thought that I was going to be a doctor. I always thought I would be a paediatrician. It's what I thought I would do from probably middle school on. And there came a point in my life that I interacted with a nurse in the healthcare system, and it really changed my outlook on what my opportunities were in healthcare as a career and as a profession. Physicians are amazing. I've worked with some fabulous and phenomenal physicians. But you train for a very long time, you do a residency in a very specific specialty, and then, that is your path for the rest of your life. What I learned about nursing through this interaction I had with an amazing nurse as the patient was that nurses get to spend more time with the patients, they also use all of the skills that physicians use in terms of critically thinking through what's going on with the patient, making a nursing diagnosis, which is different than what we traditionally think of as a medical diagnosis, but there's still very much this scientific discovery that nurses have to do with their patients. They assess their patients, they understand what's going on with them, they put together a treatment plan, all based on the nursing paradigm. And they have the ability to be able to move very fluidly throughout the healthcare system. So, for example, I started out as a paediatric nurse. I had the good fortune to go through a year-long paediatric residency programme. And I loved it. I loved my kiddos, I learned a tremendous amount. But what I learned in that process was, I don't particularly love working on the floor and taking care of the same patients over and over and over again. And so, after I completed my residency, I actually moved to the emergency department, which allowed me to still care for patients in the same way that I did on the paediatric floor, but it allowed me to have a lot of variety in my day. I could see one patient, the next minute, another patient would come in with a diagnosis that was completely different from the first one, I was moving all day from room to room, you saw acuity from somebody who had a rash, to somebody who truly was in a life-or-death situation. And so, I found that the emergency room really fit my own personality and what I liked a lot better, and I could make that transition as a nurse very easily. I obviously needed to train and get more experience in the emergency department before I could be out there providing care on my own. I got a lot of additional certifications. But unlike a physician, I have the ability to make that move pretty quickly. And so, that's one of the things I found out that I loved about nursing. And it really led me into that career as opposed to what I always thought I would do, which was be a paediatrician.

Jeremy Cline 8:48
I don't think nursing has ever been a particularly easy career option. How conscious were you at the outset of just how tough and demanding it can be?

Susan Pasley 8:59
I was really naive, to be honest, because I always had this mindset that I was going to be a physician, which I knew was hard. Anybody who goes through medical school and then residency has invested a tremendous amount into their career path. And so, for me, I just assumed that nursing would be easier in some respects in that the educational path is shorter. I had no doubt that the actual knowledge that I would need to gather would be similar to a physician. But what I underestimated, Jeremy, was the emotional and physical toll that occur in, I think, healthcare in general, nursing specifically really takes on the individual nurse. I did not or was not really prepared for that. And it's interesting because I obviously have a very strong network of nurses right now, I work with amazing group of nurses at my company as well as my extended network, and we've been having a lot of conversations lately just about the burnout piece. And what nurses are taught in nursing school to prepare them for that is very minimal. And so, I certainly went into it naive.

Jeremy Cline 10:17
I was going to ask you whether there is a certain bias in the system there, where prospective nurses just aren't told how hard it can be. I'm thinking of another interview I did with someone who did a teaching programme through Teach for America, and again, found it much, much harder than they were perhaps led to believe. So, is it the way it's almost like sold?

Susan Pasley 10:48
I believe that it is. Actually, my daughter is a nurse, my oldest daughter, I have three. But my oldest daughter is a nurse who graduated in May of 2020. So, she came out into the nursing world smack dab at the start of the pandemic.

Jeremy Cline 11:09
What a time to come into nursing!

Susan Pasley 11:11
I know. I know. I could have never, in a million years estimated or projected that that was going to be her life. And she started out in a progressive step down unit, which is, in my day, you didn't start out in an ICU, you typically didn't start out in an emergency department, you didn't even start out in a progressive step down unit, but during the pandemic, hospitals were taking new graduates in any care area, because they needed people so desperately. And so, she started her first job, it was incredibly taxing, because it was just as COVID was getting kicked off. So, her first year of nursing was at the height of the pandemic. And she hated it. She said to me, 'Mom, this isn't what I was sold. And this isn't what I watched you go through in your years at the bedside.' And in so many respects, it broke my heart, because I recognised that she was not prepared for this in nursing school, and as her mother, I probably didn't prepare her for this either. So, it was a real awakening for me, just the lack of awareness and the lack of education that we provide to new nurses about how to take care of themselves, how to actually perform self-care in a way that is going to help preserve you mentally when you do have those very difficult patients, very difficult situations that happen in a hospital. And I don't care if you're in a small community access hospital, or you're in a very large academic medical centre, you are going to encounter heart-breaking situations, and very difficult situations as well, because, Jeremy, I don't know what it's like in the UK, but in the United States, we have a very significant problem with nurses who are exposed to violent situations at the workplace, by patients, for a variety of different reasons. It was just very eye-opening, and there's been a lot of conversations today about nurses really performing self-care in a way that helps to preserve them mentally and physically. But honestly, I still don't think it's taught routinely in nursing schools. So, you have to figure this out on your own after you have entered the workforce, and you're actually experiencing it, which is a missed opportunity, for sure.

Jeremy Cline 14:01
Going back to your own change, what was going on when you start to realise that you might want to leave the bedside as it were?

Susan Pasley 14:12
In 2010 and 2011, I was participating in my hospital and my department's patient experience committees. So, we did a lot of work around performance improvement and process improvement to try to understand how could we provide a better patient experience to everybody who entered our doors. I really loved that work, just the work of understanding the data that we were getting back from our patient experience partner, looking across our processes, and understanding where we had opportunity for improvement and how we could implement meaningful change to make those improvements was fascinating work for me. It's kind of how my mind works just in general. And so, it was a good alignment for me in terms of the committee that I sat on. What I was frustrated with, though, is, in order to make meaningful change, even change that you have backed by quite a bit of science, that it is the right thing to do, requires a lot of leadership support from the top. I'll give you an example. This may not resonate with your audience, but for anybody out there who's a nurse, or maybe who has been a patient, this might resonate. The science shows that doing bedside report is really an important piece of not only providing a really good patient experience, but it actually helps improve on the quality side as well. And so, what that means is, traditionally, nurses have sat at the nurse's station, and in between shifts, when you're handing off from one nurse to the other, they discuss the patient, look through the labs, look through the medications that have been given, give the history of the patient, kind of make that handoff, so that all the knowledge that the nurse got in the current shift is handed off to the nurse who's taking over that patient. But when you move that process to the bedside, where the patient can actually be involved, they can catch anything that maybe isn't quite right about, because it's a game of telephone, right? Every nurse is telling this shift after shift, so if the patient is there to hear it, agree with it, correct anything that's incorrect, and they're able to meet their new nurse at the time, it actually provides a better patient experience and makes sure that nothing gets missed, or no incorrect information gets passed along. So, there's been a lot of studies, a lot of research about this. We decided that that was the path that we wanted to go in our emergency department. But there was so much resistance from the nurses. Nobody wanted to move the change of shift report into the room. And so, we had champions within the department, obviously, to be able to really push forward that change process. But we had no leadership buy-in for anything that we were doing. And it was really frustrating, because at the end of the day, the process failed, we didn't have good change management, we didn't have good buy-in on the front end. And that was just one example of many. So, to sit on a committee where you're trying to do the right thing, where you are really passionate about the changes that you're putting in place, and to see them time after time after time fail, is really frustrating. And so, I was frustrated with that, and in about 2011, I said, I think I could go work for a patient experience company. I believe that I could make a bigger change and work with a lot more hospitals, a lot more nurses and affect a lot more patients, if I actually took this piece of work out into the business world. And I knew that I would be good at it, but I actually, Jeremy, didn't think that I had the qualifications for it. So, in my mind, the way that I thought about my future was, some day, I will go get my master's degree, and then, I will be ready to make a transition. And I'll make a note here, Jeremy, that this is often for nurses and other folks in the health care world, whether you're in PT, OT, occupational therapy, physical therapy, some other area of the hospital world, people often think, 'Well, if I go get my master's degree and an MBA, then I will have enough value to a business that maybe I could actually apply for.' So, that was the mindset that I had. But in 2012, we had some pretty significant leadership changes in the hospital. And they were horrible. They were bad for the emergency department, the ICU, and I was frustrated. I had somebody who was my leader, who clearly was not a good leader and was actually doing harm and detriment to the morale on the unit, to just our processes on the unit. And I said, 'I can't do this anymore. So, what are my options?' I said, 'I'm just going to throw caution to the wind.' There was an opening at the patient experience vendor that we employed at our hospital. And I said, 'I don't really have anything to lose by putting in my application.' It was actually probably the best thing ever, because I really felt like I had nothing to lose. So, I just gave it my all, was completely naive about the process. It took about three months and probably 12 interviews, two presentations, but at the end of it all, they gave me the job.

Jeremy Cline 20:02
Twelve interviews, did you say?

Susan Pasley 20:04
Oh, Jeremy, I was not prepared for this at all. Because if you want a new job in nursing, you go interview with the unit manager, maybe HR, and either you get the job or you don't, it's a pretty straightforward process. But when I made that transition, I interviewed with HR, and then I interviewed with the manager of the department, and then I interviewed with a potential peer, and then they brought me in for an eight-hour day. Oh, and I had to give a presentation on a patient experience topic, they actually gave me fake data, and I had to come back and give a presentation on it. And that was to an audience of many. And then, they brought me back for this eight-hour day. And for 45-minute increments, all day long, I was interviewing with people, until I gave another big presentation to an audience of about nine people. So, it was a really daunting process; I was not prepared for that at all. It's the most intensive interview I've ever been through. But it also prepared me for what could be somebody's experience.

Jeremy Cline 21:16
It's very difficult to play what-ifs, but it strikes me that there were two pivotal factors in your decision. One was your frustration that patient experience wasn't being done as well as it could have been done based on the research and the knowledge you'd picked up from being on the committee. And secondly, was the change of leadership and everything that have brought. If those factors had been different, do you think you'd have stuck with bedside nursing?

Susan Pasley 21:49
I actually do. I loved being a nurse. I loved being an emergency department nurse specifically. It was an amazing job. It was a hard job, but it was an amazing job. And Jeremy, I will tell you, to this day, so I practised in my community, it's a fairly small community, but to this day, sometimes I will be in the grocery store, and somebody will come up to me and say, 'You took care of my mom. Do you remember me? Do you remember my mom? We remember you.' And that's so impactful that, even 11 years later, I have people who remember the care I provided in the emergency department. And I loved it. So, if the stars had aligned, and we were under different circumstances, I probably would have stayed in nursing. Now, I will say that I have always had this inkling, this thought in the back of my head somewhere, that I did want to do something that was a little bit more entrepreneurial. But I could have done that still being a bedside nurse. There's plenty of bedside nurses that have fairly successful kind of side hustles today, because we have so much opportunity to turn our knowledge and our expertise into something that can help others. So, if we're playing the what-if game, Jeremy, there's a possibility that at some point down the line, maybe I would have started a website to help other emergency department nurses or something like that. But I don't really anticipate, if I hadn't had those factors that pushed me out, that I would have left.

Jeremy Cline 23:38
Even with that, there must have been a lot of internal conflict at the time, maybe thinking, you know, maybe I can just ride this out, or maybe I can put up with it, or things might change, I can move to another department, another hospital, whatever it might be. I mean, nursing, it's one of those things that strikes me, it's a vocation as much of a career. So, what was that internal struggle like for you? And how did it resolve itself?

Susan Pasley 24:07
Yes, I definitely thought to myself at the time, 'Oh, I could just go work at another hospital.' When I started out in paediatrics, it was at a different hospital. And I really thought about potentially going back there, again, because I loved being an emergency department nurse. And to walk away from that, actually, you have to really reconcile that you are changing a part of your identity. So, I hear from nurses all the time, nursing isn't just what I do, it's who I am. And I've thought a lot about that since leaving the bedside, and I thought a lot about that since the pandemic especially, because I think nurses, and it's not just nurses, to your point earlier about teachers, I think it's folks in the service profession who have really a vocation, it's nursing, it's teachers, it's firemen, it's policemen, it's first responders that are EMTs and paramedics, there's a part of your identity that is really wrapped up in what you do. And I'm sure the same must apply to even like lawyers, right? I am a lawyer, that's who I am.

Jeremy Cline 25:25
Absolutely, yeah.

Susan Pasley 25:26
And so, for you to walk away from the piece of it that actually makes you who you are is very difficult. And what I had to learn over the years, I'll pause for just a minute, and I'll tell you a quick story that might illustrate this, so in my work life, I oftentimes will have people who say to me, 'When you were a nurse.' Or it's really bad with my children, my children will say to me, not my oldest daughter, who is a nurse, but my other kids will say, 'Mom, do you remember when you were a nurse?' And I have to say to them, I still am a nurse. And they're like, 'No, you know, like a real nurse.' And I'll say, 'No, I'm still a real nurse, I still have an active valid nursing licence.' And then, they'll say, 'Well, you know what I mean, when you took care of patients. I'm like, 'Ah, okay.' So, that's a distinction, right? A nurse that takes care of patients is what is often perceived as a nurse. But there are nurses that are doing a lot of different things. Even in the hospital, you have leadership, nursing leadership, that doesn't take care of patients, but they're still a nurse. And so, for me, what I had to realise is that one of the beautiful things about nursing is that you can do a wide variety of things that may not be taking care of patients directly, but that are actually important parts of the whole healthcare ecosystem. And it doesn't make you less of a nurse, it actually just allows you to apply your nursing knowledge, skills and experience in a different way. So, for me, I still very much identify as a nurse, but what I've come to learn over the years is that, when you think about the business of healthcare, so private or public companies that are providing a service or a product or a piece of technology into the healthcare space, they need nurses, they need oftentimes physicians, they need these roles embedded within their organisation, because they build better products and services and technology when they employ the people who use it every day. And so, I'm still using my nursing, I'm still having an impact on nurses, I'm still having an impact on patients. Because if my company succeeds, then patients have the right caregivers that they need at their bedside providing quality and safe care. If my company doesn't succeed, then maybe a nurse is taking too many patients and doesn't have the bandwidth to be able to provide the kind of care that they should be providing, and they want to be able to provide. And so, it took me a while to get there, right? Because for a while, I was like, okay, I'm kind of like a businesswoman now. But I'm not. I'm a nurse who has another set of skills, that actually just lends itself to the healthcare industry in a different way. But it doesn't happen overnight. I mean, walking away from that identity that you feel so enmeshed in is very difficult. I think everybody has to go through that journey of, who am I, how do I identify, what does it mean for me to walk away from the thing that I thought made me who I am, and it's probably a little bit different for everybody, but it has been a journey of kind of self-discovery. But at the end of the day, I am still a nurse, I'm just applying my expertise in a different way.

Jeremy Cline 29:35
And those comments that came from your daughters about when you were a, quote, 'real' nurse, in other words, being a practising nurse, did you get any of that from colleagues as well?

Susan Pasley 29:45
I still do. I have colleagues especially in our marketing department, we will be working on a piece, and folks who haven't heard me say this a million times, maybe there'll be somebody new who comes into the mix, and they'll write something, 'Susan Pasley, former nurse'. And I'm very quick to educate them that I am not a former nurse, I am a current nurse, I still have an active nursing licence, I am still practising as a nurse, but just in a different way. So, I do get that from colleagues, and I take every opportunity to correct them. Because I don't want them to say that to somebody else, because it's a misnomer to say a former nurse. The only way somebody is a former nurse, technically, I suppose, is if they let their nursing licence lapse, which I have never done.

Jeremy Cline 30:37
You talked earlier about this sort of feeling of a need to get extra qualifications, and then you would be ready for the business role. But then, obviously, circumstances changed. In the work you do with nurses and helping them with their own transitions, what are the skills that you see that they have, which they don't realise, which are translatable to something beyond bedside nursing?

Susan Pasley 31:06
Yes, that's a great question, Jeremy. And again, I will talk about it with regards to nursing, but it applies to so many other service areas. I talk to nurses all the time who say to me, 'Well, I don't have any skills that would translate outside of bedside nursing.' And when you really start to challenge them, there's a tremendous amount of skills. When we think about the business world, for example, think about what it takes to communicate very well with a team. You've got nurses at the bedside who are communicating with patients, they're communicating with a complex medical team that's comprised of not only doctors, but it's doctors, radiology technologists, folks from the lab, it might be folks from specialty areas that are coming down to consult on a patient, and at every step along the way, they have to communicate the right message to the right team member to ensure that that team member is going to know and have everything that they need to walk into that patient's room and provide the right care. And so, nurses are amazing communicators. If you take it even outside of just that immediate patient care circle, think about all of the times that nurses are communicating with families. And that can be incredibly difficult, because, certainly, to a situation where your loved one is in the hospital, families can bring a wide variety of emotion to the table, a wide variety of personal history to the table and circumstance to the table, that a nurse has to be very adept at figuring out quickly where this person is coming from, who are they, how do they feel about what's happening, how do I communicate to them the right information to oftentimes defuse the situation, to be able to calm them, to be able to provide them some comfort in this particular situation. So, they are doing a lot of very intricate assessment of other people very quickly, and then they are very quickly determining what is the message that I'm going to communicate back to this person, so that they can receive it in a way that is helpful in the here and now. And even when you think about things like the education that nurses do, in communicating something as vital as discharge instructions, a nurse is responsible for making sure that a patient who is getting ready to leave the hospital, and their family oftentimes, has everything that they need to go home and provide all the care that this patient needs in recovery to get them back on the wellness journey. That is no small feat to be able to provide that kind of intricate education and communicate it in a way that it will be heard, remembered, and actually acted upon. So, communication is one skill. The other skill that really feeds into that is being a team player. Nurses are part of very complex medical teams. And if you don't have a good team dynamic, your patients will suffer, your unit will suffer, your hospital will suffer. So, a lot of work goes into ensuring that teams are high-functioning teams in a healthcare situation. That's a very translatable skill in the business setting. You have to understand team dynamics, how to be a good team member, how do elicit things that you need from other team members. Those are skills that nurses have in spades, but they don't even recognise that they have. I'll pause there, Jeremy, that's just too, we could go on and on, I've got a whole list of them. But helping nurses to make that connection that you actually have some of the most vital skills that translate into the business world already embedded in the work that you do every day, it's a lot of times a real a-ha moment for them.

Jeremy Cline 35:31
So, if you are talking to someone who is in one of the helping professions, be it nursing, teaching, police, fire service, and so on, and they're in the position where they feel like they need to change, but as you said earlier, so much of their identity is wrapped up in what they do, and they feel also that it's all they know, what's the first step that they can take, which might set them on the journey of discovering what else they can do?

Susan Pasley 36:04
So, the first thing that I like to have people do is just even put the skills to the side, we'll talk about the skills later, but the first thing that I really like to have them do is to spend some time thinking about what parts of their job they really enjoy. And I think that's really necessary, because when you sit down in a very intentional way, and you break down all of the individual functions that you perform in your job at kind of a granular level, you're going to be able to look at that and say, 'I like this piece of it', maybe in nursing, 'I really like educating my patients, but I don't really like this piece of it.' And that starts to help them think about it in a way where they can separate out the individual functions and the individual tasks that they perform, the individual parts of their job, right? Because we think about nursing holistically, when you think about, oh, I'm a nurse, I provide care to patients in the emergency department. But you do so much more than that whole, I guess I should say, the whole is actually comprised of a whole bunch of little parts. And we oftentimes don't think about all the little parts and pieces of what actually make up our whole. So, getting that on paper, number one, so that you can see it. And then, you can start to think about, what do I really like to do, and what maybe isn't my favourite part of the job. It helps to guide where you might be thinking about your skills being translatable. So, I think that's a really good first step. And once you have that on paper, then you can think about, for all of these tasks or all of these parts of my job, what are the skills that I'm practising during each one of these parts and pieces. So, if you take something really simple, from a nursing perspective, and you could translate this to a teacher, a policeman, a fireman, et cetera, but let's just take one small example: starting an IV, so that I can provide a needed medication to a patient. What is involved in that? So, first of all, I have to prepare, I have to get all of my supplies, then I have to prepare my patient, I have to talk to my patient and communicate to them what I'm going to do, what they can expect it's going to feel like, why I'm doing it. So, I have a communication and kind of an education piece of that. Then, I actually have that executable skill that I have to do, where I hopefully get it on the first try and don't cause them any more suffering than need be, and then it's actually putting a medication and thinking through, the doctor ordered this medication, why am I giving this, what is it going to do to this patient's current condition to make them better. So, there's just like a purely prep step, there's a communication step, there's an education step, there's an actual doing step, and then, there's a critical thinking step that helps me to understand how I'm making this patient better. So, if you write all of those down and really break them out, you can think about all of the things that you had to do to do one little thing, which you probably do 10 times in a shift, and you can start to say like, 'Okay, so I do have some translatable skills here that I can pull out of that one little thing that I do every day.' So, that's where I like to start people, it's just have them think. I typically will go in and look at their list and challenge them. Because they're probably not thinking deep enough, they're probably not giving themselves enough credit for all the things that they do do, that are translatable skills, but it's helpful for them to go through those initial exercises just to get their mind in a different headspace, as they're thinking about what might be next on their journey.

Jeremy Cline 40:23
I love all of that. And it's one of the exercises that I do with my coaching clients, is to get them to look through their job and previous jobs and pick out those things which they really enjoyed doing and those things they really don't enjoy doing. And just doing that in itself can be very, very instructive. On your own journey, or perhaps the journeys of those you've helped, what tools, resources do you find that have really helped you, or you routinely recommend to others who might want to dive into this a bit more deeply?

Susan Pasley 40:54
So, that's a great question. So, one of the things that I will say for anybody who is maybe thinking about what else is out there, what other opportunities might a nurse have, I always encourage them to be very aware in the hospital. And I say that because, when I was a nurse in the hospital, I talked to everybody who came in who was doing some type of sales or education. I didn't have to talk to them. But when you sit in the hospital and just look around you, every single product that you use is being sold to the hospital by a company. And somebody is supporting that product. So, for example, I just use the IV example, but our hospital changed the brand of IV catheters that we used. And we had somebody come in and educate us on how to use those. So, I talked to her because she was a nurse, who was now working for this company that sold IV catheters. And so, I asked her about her job, I asked her how did she get into it, what does she like about it, how has her work-life balance changed as a result of that. And when you think about it, whether it's your monitoring systems for telemetry, whether it is your blood pressure cuffs, whether it is the medications that are being sold by pharma, whether it is the IV catheter, all of the things that you are using in a hospital every day are supplied by a company, and chances are pretty good that there are some nurses in that company that are supporting that. And so, if you get a chance to talk to people, take every chance you get to ask nurses who have made the transition what it's like, what they like about it, how they got there, and that's going to help start you thinking about what the other opportunities are. The other thing that I recommend to everybody is to really leverage LinkedIn in a meaningful way. And I say that because nurses at the bedside especially are typically not leveraging LinkedIn. They may have a profile, a lot of them don't, because they feel like LinkedIn is a business. You know, it's a business social platform. It's not for nurses. But a lot of the people that have reached out to me, I don't know them, they have done a really good job of looking for people who have paved the path before them and just connected with them. Usually, they just send me a direct message and say, 'Here's who I am. Here's what I'm doing today, here's kind of what I would like to do. And I would love to talk to you.' And I never turn down an opportunity to talk to somebody who's a nurse who's thinking about something different. And so, LinkedIn can be an actually really powerful tool to start mapping out what are some of the opportunities that nurses have taken advantage of before me and had some success with. Because there's a lot of different routes that you can go in the nursing world, whether it's durable equipment supplies, whether it's pharma, whether it's technology, whether it's even process improvement and consulting, like I started out with on the patient experience side of things. So, look for those people, and connect with them. And I don't even care if you have a fancy profile, just put something out there, so you can start making connections with the people that are doing something that you might be interested in doing.

Jeremy Cline 44:50
That's such a fantastic advice. Susan, you've given us plenty of knowledge and wisdom to think about. If someone wants to find you, maybe work with you, or just find out a bit more about who you are, where would you like them to go?

Susan Pasley 45:06
So, I will say there's two places that you can go.

Jeremy Cline 45:10
One of them is going to be LinkedIn.

Susan Pasley 45:11
One of them is LinkedIn, yes. So, come check me out on LinkedIn, absolutely. It's Susan-Pasley. And I'm sure, Jeremy, you can link that in the show notes.

Jeremy Cline 45:23
I will do, yeah.

Susan Pasley 45:24
The other place, if you actually are a nurse that's maybe thinking about making a transition, or even just exploring a little bit more about what's out there, you can absolutely come to our website, it is inthebusinessofnursing.com, and check us out. We've got some great blog posts there, we also have a really fun quiz that you can take, that helps to understand a little bit more about what you like, and maybe what you're looking for, and it will provide you with some possible options for different types of sales roles that you might be a good fit for, whether it's going into the risk and compliance side of things, or maybe you didn't even know it, but you have a penchant for sales. So, you can go into our website and take that quiz. It's a good place to start just to get the juices flowing.

Jeremy Cline 46:20
Links to those will definitely be in the show notes. Susan, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story.

Susan Pasley 46:27
It has been amazing, Jeremy. Thank you so much for having me.

Jeremy Cline 46:32
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Susan Pasley. This question of identity is a really interesting one. And it's not just limited to professionals like teachers or nurses. If you go back and listen to episode 76, I think it was, with Liana Ling. Liana was a lawyer who then had a complete career shift. And in that episode, she talks a lot about how her identity was wrapped up in what she did. And one of the really big takeaways from this conversation with Susan is how you don't necessarily need to lose that identity. As Susan said, she is still a nurse, notwithstanding that she has moved away from bedside nursing. The other point that is really worth drawing out is this question of transferable skills. It's definitely a trap you can fall into, it's definitely a trap I've fallen into, where you become very specialised, and you've done something for so long that you start to feel that it's all you could do, and you start to question what else could you do that's maybe not particularly related to what you're doing now. But if you've been doing anything for any length of time, then you are going to have skills which are valuable in other professions which might seem completely unrelated to what you do now. Susan gave some great examples in that interview of the sorts of skills which nurses have which will easily transfer to different professional areas. For the show notes for this episode, go to changeworklife.com/168, that's changeworklife.com/168. And this is another one of those episodes which bears sharing. I'm pretty sure that, if you're not a burnt-out teacher or nurse or other helping profession, then you probably know some people who are, so why not share this episode with them? Because I'm certain you will be doing them a huge favour. We've got another great interview coming up, the last one before the holiday season kicks off, so if you haven't subscribed to the show already, make sure you do, and you'll never miss an episode. And I can't wait to see you in two weeks' time. Cheers. Bye.

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