Many nurses try and stick it out at work even if they’re unhappy. After all, we’re resilient and tend to try to fix problems rather than run from them. Although we can rise to most challenges, jobs that sap us physically and emotionally are detrimental. The result is burnout and even physical illness. Could there be a better fit for your nursing career?
With plenty of exciting nursing opportunities available, there’s little reason to stay in an unfulfilling nursing job. You just need a little courage to step outside of your comfort zone. Once you look around at the possibilities, you may be pleasantly surprised at the array of fulfilling nursing jobs.
With the job outlook for nurses projected to grow 9% through 2026, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that nursing jobs will be in demand at a higher rate than all other jobs. This should be encouraging for nurses just entering the job market.
As a public school nurse of 26 years, I loved my job. Working daily with students, parents, and school staff to meet their health and emotional needs was fulfilling. Although I had many tough days, I went to work each day with renewed vigor and looked forward to finding solutions to help keep my young charges healthy and happy.
That was until I ultimately dreaded each workday and trudged into my job with a feeling of hopelessness and frustration.
Due to changes in assignments and personnel and an unreasonable amount of work heaped on me, my once-perfect job began to drain me emotionally. When my excess workload involved working evenings and weekends to keep up, I realized that it might be time to look for a new job.
After decades in one position, I wondered if I would be able to transition to a new work environment. Could I deal with the change? Would anyone hire me? I updated my resume and set up a LinkedIn account to prepare for my job search.
I quickly discovered that the demand for nurses was so great that I had my choice of jobs. Recruiters and human resource managers offered me jobs within days of starting my search.
I settled on another school nurse job, this time in a private boarding school. The change in environment was just what I needed to rekindle my passion for nursing. Once again, I enjoyed my days at work and found an optimal work-life balance at this point in my career.
Changing your specialty is another way to stay fresh in your career. Switching fields in nursing can be daunting. But it can also be stimulating. If you’re burned out, learning new skills and gaining knowledge in a new area may be the answer to your career woes.
At times, it may be challenging to find a job outside of your area of experience. But with the high demand for nurses in all specialties, your chances of breaking into another realm of nursing are good if you choose to find a better fit for your nursing career.
With my school nurse job change, I was under the (false) impression that my new job would present few new challenges or push me beyond my well-honed school nurse skills. I was surprised, however, that my position involved rotating to the facility’s small hospital.
Working as an inpatient nurse on a psych and med-surg unit after years in ambulatory care created a steep learning curve for me. I was outside of my comfort zone, having never worked in psych. My skills in med-surg were rusty, to say the least. But after years of nursing children and teens through all their crises and drama, I had transferrable skills that helped me to approach this new challenge.
This unexpected twist in duties stretched me in ways that I didn’t think possible at that point in my career. In the process, I felt invigorated and proud of my accomplishments and new knowledge. There wasn’t a day that I felt bored or insignificant in this role.
Having the flexibility to roll with what life throws at you can help when making hard decisions about your nursing career. Doing the same job that is no longer working for you can be a recipe for disaster both professionally and personally.
Life threw me a few curveballs a few years ago. I had no plans to change jobs once I’d settled into my new school nurse position. But after only two years in this fulfilling role, a health crisis caused me once again to reevaluate my nursing career.
At this point, the pandemic was raging, and schools had closed. I was assigned full-time to the hospital’s COVID-19 unit. I found this fascinating and was once again challenged in ways I had never envisioned.
But then my health began to deteriorate. My father was dying of cancer, and I was his caregiver. Working long hours on the COVID unit and the extra stress of caring for my dad was emotionally and physically draining.
This prolonged stress took its toll, as the role required a lot of flexibility. I was often needed at home and couldn’t meet my job’s rigid schedule demands. There were days that I couldn’t work at all due to my own health issues. I had to rest, and my job made it hard for me to recover.
I decided that I had to quit and concentrate on the more pressing needs on the home front for a few months.
After my father passed and my health problems eased up, I wasn’t ready to be done with nursing. I was still passionate about the profession but needed more flexibility than most nursing jobs permitted. I was now my mother’s caregiver and still required to rest in my recovery.
I once again began searching for a new job — one that offered unlimited flexibility. This time around, I looked beyond traditional nursing work. I considered seeking a nurse job coach who helps to find unique and sometimes entrepreneurial jobs for nurses.
In my search, I stumbled on a course for becoming a nurse writer that piqued my interest. I knew that further education was a great avenue to reach new goals, and this step-by-step course might help me find a better fit for my nursing career.
I knew that I had the nursing soft skills of excellent communication and organization. As nurses, we know how to stick to a schedule and are dependable, independent workers. With these tools and a passion for writing, I felt confident I could continue my career in this direction.
So, I jumped from a hands-on nurse to a nurse health writer. I traded my stethoscope for a computer and reinvented who I was as a nurse. I’m now a writer who helps others through the written word. And I find this newest venture exciting and rewarding.
Don’t just resign yourself to “live with your job” if you’re unhappy. Taking on new roles and using transferable skills you’ve honed as a nurse can lead to renewed passion for your profession and overall well-being.
Utilize your full potential to stretch yourself and rekindle your love of nursing by taking the first steps towards job happiness. Walk away from a toxic work environment. Don’t be afraid to reinvent who you are as a nurse.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find where you land.
How have you found new ways to better fit in your nursing career? Comment below and talk to your fellow nurses about this topic. Download the Nurse.com social networking app.