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Managing Your Career
Tips for the Unsettled Nurse
Know yourself, know your options.

Stuck. You’re in a position that just doesn’t feel right and doesn’t work, period. You feel paralyzed, petrified of looking for something new. You think, Will a new position make a difference? Will I be able to find a place where I’m respected? Will I be able to find a job that works with my schedule? What if it takes a long time?

You’re not alone. The feelings are common in the nursing community, but few realize that they do have options! In this RealityRN interview, Diane Kubal, President and Founder of Fulcrum Network, discusses the reasons to leave a disagreeable position and the possibilities at your fingertips.

RealityRN: What should signal to a nurse that it’s time to move on?

Diane Kubal: If you’re short with and barking at people, you may be unhappy. Also, if you consistently don’t want to go to work, you’re late a lot, or you can’t wait for your time off, don’t ignore that. When a person isn’t happy in a position, the body finds a reason to make you take a day off.

Nursing requires all of you--your mind, body, and spirit. You need to be fully present and not daydreaming about somewhere else.

How long should you stick out with a job fraught with conflict?

That depends on your tolerance and ability to cope. Are you having effective discussions with your colleagues and supervisor that are communicating your views? Are you able to agree to disagree? Or the opposite: Is the conflict making work uncomfortable every day?

If you decide the problems can’t be resolved, don’t stick it out for long. Stress will take over. And then when you finally leave, you’ll be looking for a new job with negative energy.

How important is closure when moving from one job to the next?

You don’t want to bring baggage along with you to interviews. Let go of whatever it was that you were leaving. Most people think they can leave one job and start the next two weeks later. However, without time to process, they end up with emotions they never dealt with. Write a letter or start a journal-- find a way to get rid of lingering negative feelings.

What options are available to nurses besides a full-time hospital position?

Most hospitals offer part-time work that will allow you to keep your benefits. If you’re worried about leaving for a long period of time and then starting over, there is the option of working every other weekend, and you can keep your pay level.

If you’re a mom, you might consider working Saturdays and Sundays. School nurses are mom-friendly jobs. You have the advantage of hours that coincide with the kids.

Doctor’s offices are generally less stressful and can be closer to home. Also, you can work for a home health agency, traveling to patients’ homes within the hours that you choose to work. The added advantage is that you develop stronger relationships with your patients.

Also consider adding to your education. You can work towards becoming an APN (Advanced Practice Nurse), which has its own state license. This requires at least a master’s degree. You can choose one of the four APN categories: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Another option is to use your nursing skills as a nurse educator.

If you are not interested in post-graduate degrees, consider legal nurse consulting. After completing a short program, attorneys will send you charts to review for malpractice lawsuits. This pays well and can be done at home.

What questions should you ask when considering a nursing position?

What are your priorities? What is most important to you? Do you love to help people, and how is that going to show up in this particular role?

Think about pay, location, the people, the supervisor, the benefits, and the feel of the place. Figure out what makes you happy and how you can find a role that is going to provide a good percentage of time to your most important satisfiers, whatever those are.

The people you meet in the process of finding a new job will catch your excitement and passion--and may even want to hire you if there’s an opening!

Diane Kubal is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years experience. Her company matches companies with consultants for contract projects. She is a featured expert for the “The Career Elevator,” a web based product designed for students entering the workforce. For the past five years, she has convened the Careers in Transition (West) Professional Development Network in Chicago. She has also served her professional community on the Board of Directors of the Organization Development Network of Chicago as Job Bank Director.

Read more Managing Your Career articles

One Response to “Tips for the Unsettled Nurse”

  1. Jessica4 Says:

    If anyone is reading this, I am currently a nursing student and am going to be a new graduate in May 2008 with a BSN. I currently am located in Ohio and am looking for a job in Columbia, South Carolina. However, I would rather not get a job in a hospital, I am looking for a community job in Women’s Health. If anyone could help me, please let me know! Thanks!

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