Tips on Choosing the Right Nursing Job
Written By: Lee Nelson
Nurses, these days, have many choices of where they want to work from big metropolitan hospitals to cruise ships to corporate headquarters to clinics in neighborhood pharmacies. But how do you find the best job to fit your personality, your passion, and your needs?
“Self-awareness and soul searching are required in everyone’s life and even more so in nursing,” says Jane Carmody, the chief nursing officer at CHI Health in Omaha, Neb. “A nurse that does not have his/her heart in it will soon wear out,” she said. “Nursing requires a love of the profession and the job. If those feelings are not there and we don’t self-renew, we can become overcome with worry, self-pity, and negativity and that can harm patients.” Are you feeling that way? Read about 7 ways to deal with stress as a nurse.
Carmody, who has been a nurse more than 40 years in many areas from psychiatric to ICU to home healthcare, explains that new nurse graduates would do well to take time to look at potential employers, not only for the interest of their clinical preference but also to understand the pay and benefits.
“I also advise new nurses to ask about employee engagement scores (NDNQI results if provided, Pathway to Excellence survey results and so on). A key indication of the organization’s value of nursing will be that the chief nursing leader is part of the senior team and is at the table making decisions,” she states.
Test The Waters
She adds that while in college, student nurses have many opportunities to experience a variety of nursing practice areas and should pursue what this experience tells them. Do they love it? Is it their dream job?
“Sometimes it is clear what area of nursing just sings to them, and so they should pursue that practice area when applying for jobs. Today, many places of employment are offering a flexible staffing model for new nurses such as in residencies or as part of a resource team that will gain experience in many areas. The key is to be flexible and open to opportunities,” Carmody says.
Find the Job that Fits Your Personality
Matt Casey, a career counselor at Matt Casey Career Coaching in Cambridge, Mass., has worked with many people in the healthcare field in making the right professional moves.
“You truly need to be thoughtful about your career, and the more information you have, the better decision you will make,” he says. “You need to know how you work and how you like to work. If you like being more independent and in a quiet surrounding, then being a New York City trauma nurse might not be the best of plans.”
He believes listening to those who are actually in the profession you might want to choose is a great way to start.
“You can explore these by typing in “non-traditional careers in nursing” on YouTube, and you’ll get more than 100 videos of people that talk about what they do, the good and the bad,” he explains.
LinkedIn is also a great social media platform to find people who have similar jobs to what you might be interested in. Send them a message asking if you can chat.
“Most, if not all career opportunities, are available online,” Carmody says. “One can look at job sites for local and national nursing positions. Talking with friends and getting references for organizations that value nursing is certainly important, and reviewing professional nursing organization’s websites can help, too.”
Know the Difference between your Profession and your Job
“The beauty of nursing is there are many, many opportunities, and narrowing areas of interest will be fun and rewarding,” she says. “Nursing is wonderful because each day can be challenging and rewarding. But when the “wonder” is less, the learning is stalling and the practice is no longer enjoyable, it is time to ask yourself…Is it my own personal situation or my job that is the cause?”
A resilience coach once told Carmody and her fellow nurses us to do three things when the job becomes too stressful -- accept your reality, be humble and accept support and value and recognize your own strengths.
“Key to personal and professional success is to bring joy to work and to life and all will be well,” she explains.
Casey adds that so many things can pop up in someone’s profession such as boredom, bad bosses and frustrating circumstances that cause people to want to jump ship and try something new. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you understand your own portfolio – which means know the difference between a skill set and a job title.
“The roles and responsibilities of nursing are more important than the title. The skills a nurse possesses and has honed in on are what broaden the scope of the jobs that she/he will be suited for in a realm of industries,” he says.
Carmody states that she can only think of one obstacle for nurses, and that is the lack of willingness to explore possibilities.
“I didn’t have a planned ladder. I just worked hard at whatever I was doing, listened to my heart and walked in when a door was opened,” she says. “Follow your heart and your interests. Be a positive part of the profession, and the industry will embrace your efforts. Your positive attitude will take you as far as you want to go.”
Choosing the right job isn’t an easy feat. But nursing offers so many roads to follow these days. A little research, lots of questions and figuring out your passions can make that journey a little clearer and successful.
The nursing profession is full of opportunities. It is our time as our value is being recognized to care redesign and keeping communities healthier. We practice now with better evidence, we have more nursing research and we have grown as a profession. We are at the table helping healthcare organizations improve. Could not be a better time to be a nurse.
Lee Nelson of the Chicago area writes for national and regional magazines, websites, and business journals. Her work has recently appeared in Realtor.org, Nurse.org, Yahoo! Homes, ChicagoStyle Weddings, and a bi-weekly blog in Unigo.com.