Want to find your purpose? Sure you do—who doesn’t?
Healthcare professionals who are happy and flourishing have a deep sense of purpose, says anesthesiologist Robin Youngson, M.D. of Hearts in Healthcare in New Zealand. “They bring their knowledge, skills, caring and compassion in the service of their patients' lives. That protects them from burnout by giving them deeper meaning, joy and satisfaction in their work.”
Acknowledging purpose as a healer can also result in better outcomes for patients, says Youngson. So it's a win-win.
Finding your purpose can be as simple as taking a break now and again to remember why you do what you do. “Caring really is a strategy,” adds Jon Gordon, author of The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. When you care, you stand out in a world where so many seem like they don’t care.”
These professionals shared with us how they found their purpose:
She was inspired by her own experiences
Diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, Maureen Eddelman, R.N., has impaired eyesight. When her son was born, he was deprived of oxygen for over five minutes and was eventually put on dialysis at age 14. Then, several years later, Eddelman experienced kidney failure and went on dialysis herself.
After receiving a kidney transplant, she was so moved by care she and her son received that she became a peritoneal dialysis nurse at DaVita Kidney Care in Clinton Township, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. It was here that Eddelmen didn’t just find her purpose—she found her dream job, where she can offer her patients comfort and a sense of hope that leaves her fulfilled.
She found it at the library
Others home in on their career direction not through personal experience, but by simply reading a good book. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was 14 and I read a book called Kissing Doorknobs about a teenage girl with OCD,” says marriage and family therapist Jessica Heimark, who works as Director of Clinical Services atPathways Therapeutic Services in the Chicago, Illinois area.
“Then I read every self-help book in the library, along with scholarly articles and the DSM—the manual that therapists and psychologists use to help diagnose clients," Heimark says. "I can’t imagine doing any other job.”
She reinvented her career
Formerly a women's clothing designer who worked alongside models and tracked the latest trends, Ashley Jordan, M.D. is currently completing a surgical residency at St. Luke's University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“I knew I couldn’t do that job forever,” she says. Her mother's successful stand against breast and lung cancer inspired a major career change. “When my mom was diagnosed and went in for reconstruction, I felt so much more fulfilled taking care of her.”
Ready for change, she spent three years gaining proficiency in biology and chemistry. She then applied toAmerican University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, where she received a scholarship. She says she’s still using her creativity in her new career. After her residency, she intends to pursue a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery. “You may have to work harder, but if you really put your mind to something, you can make it happen,” says Jordan.