Ever experience career shaming? This helps!

I recently wrote an article over at about The View, the #NursesUnite movement, and how career shaming isn’t anything new.

Kat Fulton, expert

In case you missed it, the incredible #NursesUnite movement has effectively served to advocate and educate the public about the nursing profession. I am so proud of my nurse friends! Because our team works in the healthcare industry, I see their hard work. I see their tough moments and rewarding moments. I hear their stories. I’ve even supported nurses as a facilitator of dozens of retreats. I admire nurses to my very core, and I so appreciate what they do for our patients and clients.

The movement and the way The View spoke about Miss Colorado (the Miss America contestant who was a nurse) reminded me of all the times that media got my profession all wrong. I also remembered the times that colleagues in related fields, old acquaintances, former professors, and even old boyfriends got my profession all wrong.

As a music therapist, I entered a minority field. It’s understandable that your average Joe doesn’t quite get it. It’s ok. It’s to be expected. But the constant advocacy, education, and correcting of others can be exhausting!

I first learned of the term “minority field” listening to the brilliant Ami Kunimura on our Mindstorm Monday series. You can grab the recording for $7. Look for “Treat Yourself with Kindness.

She mentioned that working in a minority field creates all sorts of opportunities for burnout. I had never thought of it that way, because I’m a born rebel. It’s my M.O. to go against the grain and “stick it to the man.” I seek out opportunities to be different or unique, and I’m proud of it.

But playing the rebel can be exhausting.

In my article at, I show before and after images of my attitude. This subtle attitude adjustment has helped me recently become rejuvenated and feel more alive in my work than ever before. Some of this attitude adjustment came after a jaunt through the mountains for a personal retreat, then a visit to Malibu Lake.

Here’s the before image:
A successful woman is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her. ~ adapted from David Brinkley

Here’s the after image:
A woman who walks in purpose doesn't have to chase people or opportunities. Her light causes people and opportunities to pursue her. ~ Anne Nwakama

Have you faced battles in your life or career? Have you experienced career shaming, mockery, or belittling? Let’s start talking about it.

Tell me about it in a comment below so that the community can shower you with support.

12 Responses to Ever experience career shaming? This helps!

  1. Debi Kret September 20, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Hey Kat,
    I just read both of your articles and you are still awesome! The career shame for me started in high school when my dad told me I couldn’t major in music because I needed to do something “substantial” with my life(in all fairness to him, we didn’t know about music therapy then). It continued in my undergrad with professors who didn’t value the profession. And family members that thought I was going to sit around the camp fire and sing kumbaya and get high all day!

    I have been an advocate for music therapy for a very long time and I have seen the huge strides my clients have made through music therapy interventions. I have been known to look up at heaven and say “See Dad?!!!” when clients have had major breakthroughs.

    As you said, playing the rebel can be exhausting and I am exhausted! I live in a state that doesn’t value education or health care so funding is limited, so while there are a LOT of schools and programs that want to hire a music therapist, there is not a lot of funding for programs and it is a constant uphill battle.

    Things have changed so much in the 20 years since I became a music therapist, people have now heard of the power of music and want our services more than ever. I believe we are on the right track.

    I am still completely dedicated to this amazing profession and I have no regrets about my choice. But I am considering relocating my business to a place that has some state reimbursement and maybe even four seasons ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kat Fulton September 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

      Right on Debi! We’re all students in the course of life, and I’m so happy that you can make yourself malleable in order to change for your highest purpose.

      YOU ARE AMAZING – and enough! Well-done and thank you so much for sharing your story here! Sending you tons of love – K

  2. Jennifer Bagley September 21, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    Hi, Kat,

    I cannot tell you how much your article resonates with me. To an extent, I feel like I get a little career shaming on a weekly basis at my actual job. There are lots of people at the hospital who support music therapy and what we do, but it seems that all it takes is one person to make a comment about “Who are you going to sing Kum Ba Ya with today?” or “Is that a guitar or a gun you’re carrying in that case?” and it makes me feel like we’ve just taken 2 steps back with the fight for recognition of what we do. I don’t mind educating people about music therapy, but it does make it difficult when it seems they’ve already made up their minds about what we do and aren’t interested in learning.

    Right now, we’re fighting the battle for state recognition and/or licensure in NC…there are quite a few organizations who’ve been given information about music therapy with an offer to come do an inservice…they’ve turned those offers down, but are now employing the use of therapeutic music provided by other disciplines. While I do understand we don’t own music, and we don’t even own the therapeutic use of music, it’s exhausting to continue to advocate for music therapy and why what we do is important only to have people turn it away in favor of a substitute for what we’re trained to do.

    How do I/we move forward with advocating when it feels like the information is being discarded by the wayside? And how can I/we continue to speak up for music therapy in a professional manner when, sometimes, all I really want to do is yell at these people to try and get the message across?

  3. Sarah September 21, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Yes, Yes, & YES! I can so relate to both of your articles, Kat. There have been so many times when all of the advocacy in our field- both that I’ve personally been involved with and times when I’ve watched it from a distance- have seriously bogged me down and made me want to throw in the towel. Yet somehow, just when I’m ready to seriously walk away, the universe has a way of reminding me that this is truly my passion and calling. I was just speaking with a friend about this very thing this morning over coffee. My friend, being the great person she is, looked me in the eye when I was finished talking and said, “Don’t quit. I can tell how passionate you are about music therapy just listening to you talk and I see it in your eyes.” And she’s right- I’m so fired up about MT all over again! LOL

    Thanks for the new perspective and timely article.

  4. Valerie Kocel September 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Thank you for writing your thoughts down to share with all of us! After 13 years as a music therapist, it is exhausting to fight for the recognition of our career as a real career. Since I work with adults in a hospital, I am always asked (several times a day actually) if I want to be a singer someday or why am I not trying out for America Idol. Or. . .”this is what you do for a living?????” When I tell them music therapy is my career, some even laugh. It always hurts. I yearn for a day when everyone values our profession. Someday. Until then, I do my best to be the victor & stay positive. It isn’t easy though ๐Ÿ™ The one thing that keeps me going are the few patients who say that they can see the passion I have for my work. . . .or those who speak truth into me about how God will bless my life. Those are the words I cling to.

  5. Rachelle September 21, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    I had a boyfriend once who thought I was wasting my intelligence as a music therapist. That relationship didn’t last ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think much of my career shame is self-imposed – I feel shame when people have those questioning looks when I mention my career or when they don’t understand what I do or what I have to offer, but I don’t see people putting music therapy down to my face. Maybe they think music therapy is stupid, or maybe they genuinely just don’t know what we do.

    Do you know who has never ever caused me to feel ashamed of my career choice, though? My parents. Never have they questioned my career choice, and they have been unwaveringly supportive for 15+ years now. Even when I question myself, they’re still 100% supportive and they remind me why I got into this gig in the first place. That’s an unbelievable gift, and I hope every MT has someone like that.

    • Kat Fulton October 6, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

      Two things: Your parents ROCK! And what a wonderful introspective vantage point re: self-imposed. Very true for me as well!

  6. Leslie September 22, 2015 at 4:36 am #

    So glad you brought this up Kat. Some days it’s just too much. I work in a hospice where 1/2 of the nurses wish every one of their patients could have MT because they see the benefit. The other 1/2 have NEVER referred a patient and so have never seen it work. One nurse, when a chaplain suggested at a team meeting that one of her patients could benefit said “I’ll make a referral if I HAVE to” while rolling her eyes. I’m learning that there are individuals that don’t want to get it for whatever reason (too territorial, too threatened etc.). I can’t imagine the tables being turned with the RN receiving that minimizing treatment. Oh, and don’t get me started on being introduced to patients by team members calling me the “music lady”. Seems all I do is educate and the progress is so slow…..

    • Kat Fulton October 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

      Keep the faith – You are doing important work in the world! You are not alone, but yes I want to validate your frustration as well… It’s a long and windy road! I’m glad you’re on it with me Leslie =)

  7. Mary September 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Ug. I once dated a guy who thought that all I did was “light hemp candles and play Massanet on my viola for rape survivors.” I even used music to help him through an anxiety attack and he STILL didn’t get it.

    • Kat Fulton October 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

      Yeah – worthless and pointless! No time for trying to convert the ignorant =) I’m so glad you said “NEXT!” to that one!

  8. Madeline Holly-Sales October 22, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    I was blind sided last year when a friend hired me to sing in his corporate and wedding band.

    My husband and I have our own group and combine his Brazilian influence with jazz and funk and soul. We do most of our own booking. However, this new gig was a straight up multi-decade cover band, booked exclusively by a booking agency.

    The previous vocalist, a friend moving cross country, was an African American woman.

    When the band leader informed the agency of the change, their response was: “Do you think it’s a good idea to replace your vocalist with a middle aged white woman?”

    I just wasn’t expecting both racism and agism to be so blatant. And the double standard is that the lead male vocalist is actually older than I am.

    After the initial sting, it actually was an impetus for reflection and the realization that I am actually very comfortable with who I am as a woman and a performer. Moving on!

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