6 Career-Building Reads for Nurse Practitioners

Confession. I didn’t finish the last book I selected for the ThriveAP Book Club. I simply couldn’t get into it. I’m not sure if the problem was that I tried to read it on the treadmill while burning off a few extra calories packed on from a recent vacation, or if it was simply one of those seasons when I had too much else going on to enjoy a pleasure read. Whatever the reason, it’s been a few months now and while I’m halfway through The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, I won’t be picking it back up (for now). But, I am getting the ThriveAP Book Club back on track!

One thing I have noticed is lacking among nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and really the medical community as a whole is a discussion about professionalism in general. Focusing our education on clinical content and hands-on patient experience, we don’t innately acquire career finesse and insight over the course of our education. Along similar lines, many NPs and PAs I talk to are also concerned with balancing the personal and professional. How can you have a family, a spouse, a kickin’ career and make time for yourself? Does career satisfaction truly exist?

Given these recent observations, I have decided to suggest a few books that aren’t directly related to medicine, but rather to living life as a professional. Working in healthcare or not, balancing a job and personal interests takes intentionality. Here are a few reads to consider for your next day off that just may help inspire your upcoming career decisions.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Reading Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek was actually part of what compelled me to start ThriveAP. It took me from an idea to ‘go’. As nurse practitioners we can’t often ‘live anywhere’, but in the changing face of medicine our jobs are opening up to new and creative ventures. If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business, opening your own practice, or expanding your nurse practitioner career to include more than hands-on patient care, this one’s a must-read. A word of caution. I have to say my ‘4-Hour Workweek’ is more like a 400 hour workweek…but I love it!

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This pick has been around a while and for good reason. Author Stephen Covey is a master at helping set a framework for making both daily and long-term decisions with intentionality. If you want your life to look a certain way, putting a method to the madness is essential and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People does just that. I’ve read the book twice now and anticipate doing so again to reorient myself throughout life’s ever changing stages.

3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

I’ve talked about Lean In in previous blog posts given its power as a quick, thought-provoking read. While author Sheryl Sandburg intended the book for women, I would encourage guys out there to pick up a copy. My rapid devouring of the book prompted several deep conversations with my husband about how we plan to integrate our careers with family life. Agree or disagree with Sandburg’s assertions, Lean In gives a platform for thinking through what you want from your personal and professional life and having realistic expectations for managing both.

4. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

I have to say, The Power of Habit is probably the least likely on this list to qualify as a ‘page-turner’, but it does offer an interesting perspective. If you find yourself making choices you don’t want to make, stuck in a rut, or lacking power and motivation to initiate a change in behavior, The Power of Habit helps uncover the ‘why’. And, understanding why you do the things you do is the first step to solving the problem. Charles Duhigg’s research into habits is impressive and offers valuable insight into how you structure your day.

5. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Author Gretchen Rubin remarks that she should have been happy. Despite an established career, supportive family, and plenty of comforts, however she found herself feeling chronically down. So, she decided to change. Documenting her small but not insignificant efforts, Rubin chronicles her trials and triumphs in increasing her day to day happiness and inner calm. Self-help aficionados will enjoy The Happiness Project finding Rubin’s suggestions practical to implement.

6. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers

I recently discovered (but have yet to read) Dr. Lois Frankel’s book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and am intrigued by the title and ringing endorsements from friends. As nurse practitioners, we may not have offices, but workplace behavior, attitude, and hierarchies are still very real in the healthcare world. With a little extra business savvy (and guts!) you just might find yourself landing your dream job or negotiating a more favorable employment agreement. P.S. This is the next ThriveAP Book Club pick – I look forward to hearing your comments on the read!

What books have you found inspiring in your career?


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