The power of perseverance.

Perseverance is an essential characteristic when embarking on something new.

I was a PhD student for 4 years. Some students took 5 years to complete the degree. Yet, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain a fifth year. I needed to finish in 4 years. I spent the first two years of the program trying to demonstrate that there was value in studying nursing documentation. More specifically, I studied the information needs of nurses before and after an electronic nursing documentation system implementation. I remember being in a class one day and the professor looked at me and said, “no one cares about nursing documentation”. Ouch!

My first paper wasn’t accepted until I was in my 3rd year of the program. Yet, it was accepted with very little changes required to the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. That paper was what caught the attention of a publisher that led to them asking me to write my book, Electronic Health Records for Quality Nursing and Health Care. (So, it turns out MANY people care about nursing documentation… 😉 ). I applied for many external grants before finally figuring out the best way to present the case. I worked tirelessly every day. After that, I had several grants funded with a total of 7 by the end of my PhD program.

I remember thinking (often) ‘would it really happen, would I finally get this PhD degree?’ I also remember thinking it had to be preparing me for something else that would come. I couldn’t think of any other reason why it was so painful and difficult for that long of a time frame. That something else was entrepreneurship. Starting a business from an idea (e.g., Nightingale Apps) requires extensive perseverance (and many other characteristics). Instead of being in one academic setting, your ecosystem is much larger with greater variability in perspective. There aren’t set protocols and when you have something brand new, (e.g., Know My Patient), there isn’t a path already paved for you to follow. You need to be the one to figure it out. You also need to decide who and what to listen to as you go down this path. Everyone will have an opinion but you’ll need to decide which one(s) are aligned with your vision.

“The truth is, there is only so far ‘motivation’ can carry you and your vision when you are in the grind (especially in the early days). People watch you from afar, some half-expecting you to fail, and after all the good wishes and pep talks, you are only left with yourself — and your willingness to keep going.”

Post originally appeared on Dr. Tiffany Kelley RN on December 4th, 2017