Exploring Ikigai; My Nursing Journey

​Author: Ms. Sajida Chagani, MSC​N, PRNBSCN, RN.

Senior instructor​ and Joint Faculty Aga khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery and Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi Pakistan (AKUSONAM /AKUH)​

Sajida Story.jpg​​

My professional journey

​"Imagine stepping into a world of white coats, echoing hallways, and a burning passion to make lives better. My journey in nursing began like that of an average person, filled with curiosity and innocence. As I took my first steps, little did I know that the path would lead me through the twists and turns of healthcare, with its unique blend of challenges and heartwarming moments. Over time, I evolved into an experienced leader, dedicating two decades to hospital clinical operations. Starting as a novice bedside nurse, I steadily climbed the ladder, eventually reaching the role of clinical manager and then, an exciting opportunity knocked on my door—my passion for transition into the world of education. Embracing the academic realm was a thrilling challenge that I eagerly embraced. I was stuck with ambiguities from medical to academic jargon (A polite note). I believe in doing more in my best capacity to contribute to society. My decision to transition from services to academia was multi-fold. Regardless of my seniority level job, I have experienced a transition in my several clinical career roles. I was lucky to encompass all clinical roles from bedside nurse to an educator well defined in Patricia Benner's Novice to expert model (Benner, 1992).


Ambiguities of transition

I believe I was a successful manager and leader in my role, but that was not only my goal. I always used to hear form my colleagues and staff I could be a good educator. As one of colleague expressed “I see the makings of an outstanding educator in you, with the power to shape future generations and create a lasting impact on their lives. Another said, “I perceive a mentor in you, capable of nurturing young minds with your guidance and expertise". I acknowledge their motivation to gear my goals and redirect my energy. I feel their motivation fueled my determination and steered my energy towards a more structured transition, easing my initial uncertainties about adapting to the new environment. "I had many questions and doubts: What if I can't fit into the new environment? What if I struggle to share my experiences with learners? And the list went on..."

Finding the Purpose

One of my mentors guided me to learn the formula for finding the perfect balance of happiness, purpose, and success. I learnt the word ikigai in Japanese. It is a Japanese secret that means the happiness of being always busy to a long and happy life. It also guided me to find my purpose, iki means life, and gai means worth, a sense of direction, and happiness. I wanted to shape the future of the next generation by transforming my clinical experience to bridge the theory-practice gap. At the same time, I was looking for purpose and balance in my life. I ticked off a four-item checklist for my ikigai while planning for the role transition.

Steps to find (Ikigai) purpose.

A Journey of Transformation

 I believe that a nurturing learning environment is essential. By blending my clinical knowledge and bridging the gap between theory and practice through best practices and real-life clinical examples, I've been able to make a significant impact on my students' education."

Few Glimpses of student's feedback




Tribute to my contributors

I am immensely grateful to my mentors, whose unwavering guidance facilitated my seamless transition. Embracing quality teaching and learning platforms, like the Teaching Learning Enhancement Workshop and re-thinking teaching, expanded my horizons and ignited a passion for continuous growth. Through these transformative training experiences, I revitalized my courses, embraced dynamic active learning strategies, and unlocked the pathway to realizing my ikigai with resounding success and enduring fulfillment.

 'Take away message'   

Discover the beauty of ikigai, even if you do not acquire all four elements. Experience profound satisfaction, prioritize your goals, find comfort, and revel in delightful moments of accomplishment. Allow yourself to embrace the real world, where positivity leads to remarkable progress. Prior to my transition, I unearthed my ikigai, nurturing my passion, mission, and profession. Teaching is both an art and a science, and persistent quest of advancement holds the key to unlocking boundless success.

The chancellor of the university once said “teachers are always leaders' improvement of knowledge from one generation to another (Aga Khan, 1987) That's an inspiration for me and to look for my teaching philosophy and it is driven as “Legacy is not what I did for myself, it's what I am doing for the next generation (Vitor Belfort).

​In the end, my journey from bedside nurse to educator taught me that with determination, even the most challenging transitions can be conquered. So, remember, no matter where you are in your own path, embrace change, trust in your abilities, and never stop learning. The journey may be tough, but the rewards are immeasurable. ​