Is Your Nursing Career a Good Fit?

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When you think about the current state of your nursing career , does it fit like an old glove, or has it begun to chafe, itch, irritate, or otherwise make you feel uncomfortable? Are there buttons missing? If a shoe metaphor is more appropriate, have you developed career-based callouses, or is your career more like a thorn stuck in your clogs or sneakers?

Sometimes, we outgrow our careers, or they could have been better tailored from the start. If you’re unsure whether where you are now is working for you, maybe it’s time to consider if you’ve somehow outgrown your nursing career as it is or if there’s still some time to consider your next move before your career becomes threadbare.

Well-Made Suit or Straightjacket? 

The next time you go to work, check in with yourself and see if your current career choices still make sense. When you arrive at your place of employment, are you filled with dread? Do things feel monotonous and boring, or are there still novelty and new things to experience? Does work feel like a well-made suit, an old, worn-out coat, or even a straight jacket?

Work can quickly become stale, and this can happen for many reasons. You might find yourself in an environment that’s not very intellectually challenging. Or your employer may tolerate bullying, incivility, and a toxic work culture. They may also treat you like you don’t matter.

It’s also important to consider whether your attraction to a particular position or job no longer holds. Maybe you graduated from nursing school hell-bent on working in high-adrenaline environments like trauma or the emergency department. Still, after ten years of slogging it out, you’re ready for something more mellow, or maybe you want the luxury of time to get to know patients over the long term.

With how complicated and fast-paced life can be, it’s pretty easy to show up, do your work, and go home with barely a thought about how it all feels — or you may be too tired to care. Whatever is going on for you, it’s always better to check in, assess what you’re doing, and determine if your actions are still ticking enough boxes to be worthwhile.

Have You or Your Life Changed? 

The choices we make in the course of our careers are often strongly influenced by what’s happening in the rest of our lives. Maybe you graduated from nursing school when you were single, in your mid-20s, and had no dependents and few responsibilities outside of taking care of yourself and paying the bills. But now that you’re 39 with three school-aged kids, your awful hours and high stress now feel like that thorn mentioned above in your shoe.

When it comes to you and your lifestyle vs. your workstyle, consider questions like these:

  • How has my life changed since I took my current job/chose my current specialty? Do any of those changes make my current workstyle less attractive or practical?
  • Have my personal goals changed?
  • Have my family’s needs changed?
  • Has the nature of my area of nursing specialty changed in a way that’s less interesting to me?
  • Have my career goals shifted? Is there something I now want that I didn’t wish to do before?
  • Is there some aspect of my work that holds less importance for me now than it used to?

Ensuring your current work style matches your desired lifestyle may enlighten you about the need for change. Or you may realize that everything matches up, the fit is still perfect, and no tailoring is needed.

Is it Time to Call Your Tailor? 

If your life, desires, needs, or family’s needs have changed, your current work situation may no longer be a good fit. As mentioned above, your work may now chafe, irritate, or otherwise feel like a mismatch. Are those missing buttons? They’re telling you something. That threadbare feeling? It’s a sign.

Imagine your nursing career as a tailor-made suit you wore at nursing school graduation and never took off. As we all know, our bodies can change, and clothes that used to fit us perfectly no longer feel or look right anymore. Some things also go out of style, and what used to be fashionable can look dated. The same goes for your career. What seemed like it was made just for you can begin to feel completely wrong, like a pair of pants that shrunk in the wash and doesn’t fit anymore.

If the tailor-made suit of your career isn’t what it used to be, you may very well need to call your tailor. A nip here, a tuck there, a new lining, or some shiny buttons, and you could be good as new. It all begins with an honest assessment in the dressing room mirror. And if the shoe doesn’t fit or the suit is out of style, maybe it’s time to shop around, step into the dressing room to try something new, and find a perfect fit that’s right.

Keith Carlson
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