Sunday, July 17, 2016

Four Ways That Nurses Can Say Yes

In my work as a career coach for nurses and healthcare professionals, I hear a lot of stories; I also hear that nurses are frequently saying no in ways that may be negatively impacting their nursing careers. While we definitely want more nurses saying no to mandatory overtime, a lack of time for self-care while on duty, and the scourge of nurse-on-nurse bullying, there are certainly places for nurses to say yes more often. What do you say yes and no to on a regular basis?

There are several things that nurses commonly tell me they don't want to do. Does this reflect your thinking, as well?

Nurses say no to social media:

Many nurses tend to say no to social media, especially LinkedIn. Nurses say things like, "I'm older, and I just don't feel good about social media; I value my privacy," or "I don't do social media."

Valuing your privacy is laudable, but do nurses who refuse to use LinkedIn in order to move their career forward consider how their privacy is not valued by credit card corporations and the companies who share their address with other companies so that their mailbox can be filled with catalogs and solicitations?

Every time you use the Internet, data about you is mined, gathered, stored, and shared; and every time you shop on Amazon, more is shared about you than anyone would ever be able to learn from your LinkedIn profile. This is a fact of life and you just can't escape it unless you take fairly extreme actions. There are certainly things you can do about it, but there's a certain amount of privacy that you just can't maintain in the 21st century, for better or worse, and if you're cutting off your professional nose to spite your face, you need to think again.

For nurses in the job market, not using LinkedIn for the purpose of creating a powerful online brand are shooting themselves in the professional foot. Recruiters use LinkedIn in order to find potential applicants for positions that will not be posted publicly; LinkedIn members utilize the LinkedIn search engine to find networking groups of like-minded professionals, meet other professionals in their city or town, or connect with healthcare providers in other regions or countries. Microsoft's 2016 purchase of LinkedIn assures us of the site's continued relevance in the professional space for years to come, and savvy nurses will learn to use it skillfully for their own benefit.

Meanwhile, nurses can use Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media platforms to keep abreast of nursing and healthcare news, meet other professionals, and keep a finger on the pulse of the industry. If desired, many of these platforms can be used anonymously, with no identifying personal information available to other users. I prefer digital transparency for my own professional development, but to each his or her own.

Nurses say no to networking: 

Too many nurses say no to simple networking, even when it doesn't involve online activity of any kind. So many nurses eschew nursing organizations, nurse meetups, seminars, conferences, and local chapters of the ANA and other groups; but why?

Networking and meeting other nurses and healthcare professionals helps you to build your tribe, find like-minded friends and colleagues, make plans for the future, stay connected with your chosen profession, and advance your career on multiple levels.

Nurses have told me things like, "Oh, I don't network; it's not important to me," or "Networking is for businesspeople, not nurses." This could not be more misguided, but again, those ultra-introverted nurses may just want to stay in the shadows and not meet other nurses and professionals who could be excellent connections for them in the future.

Nurses say no to journals, books, and other sources of information: 

There are nurses who don't read professional journals, listen to podcasts, read nursing blogs, check out the plethora of nursing-related books out there, or otherwise avail themselves of a burgeoning amount of valuable free information for healthcare professionals.

I know a lot of us want to come home from work and forget about nursing and healthcare, but we also need to stay up to speed and informed. Podcasts can  be downloaded to your phone and listened to while working out, shopping, walking the dog, or commuting. Meanwhile, books, blogs, and journal articles can be absorbed in short stints so that you don't feel like nursing has taken over your personal life and leisure time. There are only so many hours in the day, and while doing things totally unrelated to nursing is important, keeping abreast of the nursing zeitgeist is also crucial for the nurse who wants to be savvy and up to date.

Nurses say no to professional development: 

Finally, while I see some nurses taking full advantage of that which may advance their knowledge, skill, connectivity, network, and career development, others rest on their laurels and choose to do as little as possible. Some nurses network, read, listen, absorb, and grow constantly; they're hungry to stay relevant and informed in the fast-paced 21st century healthcare landscape. Others, not so much.

The opportunities being afforded to nurses in the 21st century are unprecedented; those who choose to not keep up with the times will, in the end, be left behind. Many nurses who want advancement and growth are still resisting pursuing their BSN (even though the writing is on the wall, and a BSN is slowly becoming the entry-level nursing degree, for better or worse). Other nurses resist electronic charting and other technological advancements. We have to change with the times, folks, or we'll just be left behind, waiting for the asteroid to strike.

Say yes more often, nurses:

Nurses, say yes more often, but feel free to say no to bullying, harassment, burnout, compassion fatigue, overwork, discrimination, and negativity.

Say yes to technology when it serves you; say yes to networking; say yes to professional growth; say yes to changing with the times and growing as a healthcare professional.

Say yes.


Did you know there's a companion podcast episode to this blog post? 


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of "Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century." He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service,, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.
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