With the coming of a new year, many of us choose to make resolutions and promises in hopes of achieving our goals or fulfilling our personal aspirations. In terms of your nursing career, this can also be a good time to plot the course for how you would like to revive (and/or nurture) your professional life.
When examining your career and your current professional world, the first thing that I recommend you consider is whether you're happy or not. While this may seem trite, I personally see no point in furthering a career in which you're miserable, or trying to move up in an organization that's a poor fit with your personality, style or ethics.
However, if you're feeling like nursing still holds your heart and fulfills your soul--at least on some level--then it's a perfect time to look at your career with an objective eye and plot your course for the year.
Are You Where You Want To Be?
Where you work can have a great impact on how you feel about your work. Does the facility or agency that employs you feel like a good fit? Are you treated well? Is there room for growth and expansion? Do you feel valued?
Being employed is a two-way street. We can often feel loyal to our workplaces even if they're not perfect and don't meet our needs. We can also feel economically trapped in jobs we hate.
Is There More To Learn?
We all need to earn continuing education credits, and let's admit straightaway that we sometimes take online courses and simply speed through them in order to get that certificate and move on without a backward glance.
However, maybe there's a conference or course that piques your interest. Maybe there's a certification or training that will bring you greater skill, confidence, or even more earning power. Consider if there are continuing education opportunities that will not only earn you credits, but give you knowledge and a sense of accomplishment.
Maybe you've been considering the possibility of going back to school. I constantly hear about LPNs pursuing their BSN, Associate-level RNs earning a Bachelors, or Bachelors-level nurses seeking advanced degrees.
Higher education isn't for everyone, and my advice is to think carefully before taking the leap. Is the potential debt worth taking on? Can your budget and family handle the strain of your going back to school? Will it be a fulfilling experience for you?
Many nurses see the reemergence of health care on the horizon as health care reform comes to fruition and the Baby Boomers retire and age en masse. A higher degree can be a ticket to greater opportunity, especially if you can accurately read the writing on the wall and earn a degree that will bring you the results and opportunities that you desire.
Is Self Care On the Table?
Many of my readers know me well, and they know that I can't talk about nursing without putting in a enthusiastic plug for self care.
Whether you're continuing in your current position, looking for a new opportunity, starting your own business or going back to school, caring for yourself amidst it all is simply critical for your health and happiness.
No matter how hard it gets, no matter how stressful life becomes, focusing on your own well-being is never a bad idea, and everyone around you--both family, friends and patients--will benefit from your own attention to wellness.
Embracing the New Year
Even if no change is on the horizon and we choose to stay the course and continue things as they are, we can still embrace the new year, welcome challenges and opportunities, and feel gratitude and hope when it comes to our current situation and prospects.
Not all of us have the wherewithal--emotionally, financially or otherwise--to go back to school or start a business, but we all have the capability to make the most of our professional lives and re-dedicate ourselves to nursing and our professional identity.
Good luck and best of health in 2013!