We nurses change the course of our careers based on many factors, one of which may be money or advancement. This is all well and good, but based on my beliefs about the soul work of evolving as a nurse, money and career development are only parts of a much more intricate puzzle.
The soul work of nursing is that which lies deep within you; it's the desire to serve, to give back, to contribute, to tend to others. Sometimes that soul work trumps salary and recognition. It just does. And sometimes that just has to be okay for a time.
What Calls You?
Sometimes, a move from one form of nursing to another may feel like a lateral move rather than a vertical one, but there are times when lateral moves make sense because there is a calling that runs deeper than the call of your bank account.
It's often said that nursing is more of a "calling" than a profession, and this may very well be true for many of us. And what "calls" us from one form of nursing to another may be the work we need to do on a deeper soul level, the level at which we fulfill our larger life's mission.
Perhaps you've been working with adults for years but feel that spending time with children is now essential for your personal development. You don't understand it and you want to question it, but the magnetic pull towards this new aspect of your life as a nurse has more power than you realize and is simply undeniable. And if you honor that magnetism, you never know what gifts may lay in store for you down that as yet unknown path.
Or maybe you're just not feeling "right" anymore in your current position. You don't necessarily feel burned out, but it just doesn't feel like it used to. All of a sudden, a new position makes itself known, but you realize that it will amount to a cut in pay. Do you honor your desire and take the pay cut in anticipation of the gold that may be waiting within this new opportunity? Or do you turn your back simply because of the money?
Your life circumstances may allow you to absorb the financial hit and explore this new career option, or perhaps not. But it's worth exploring how you feel in your gut and your heart, and to consider your options.
Multiple Bottom Lines
Of course, if you have a family, children or other dependents, your financial bottom line must sometimes take precedence over your desires. However, we can also flip that around and see that there are many bottom lines: spiritual, physical, psychic, financial, mental, and emotional.
A few more dollars per hour can sometimes seem like it will make the difference for you and your family, and that may be true on a certain level. But what about your spiritual health and mental health? What "tax" will you pay for that slight increase in pay? What will the toll be, and will you be able to pay it day after day? Look at career change from a multifaceted perspective and the decision may become more clear.
Weighing Your Options, Caring For Your Soul
Reality--especially financial reality--can feel weighty when making career decisions. And let's acknowledge that there are other realities as well, and sometimes those realities (like the psychoemotional or spiritual) also need to be honored, weighed, and figured into the equation. We also must remember that when we think there are only two paths from which to choose, there are more often than not more choices than we immediately recognize.
So, if a career change is in your sights, examine it closely, weigh it all, do the math, and allow your heart, gut, and mind to guide you. Allowing only one of those important aspects of yourself to steer the entire ship without heeding the wisdom of the others may not yield the results you deserve.
Career change is exciting and sometimes scary. Use all of your faculties to plot a path, and make a choice that works for your soul, your career, your family, and who you truly want to be as a nurse.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known nursing blog, Digital Doorway. Please visit his online platforms and reach out for his support when you need it most.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of "Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century," and has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession. Keith has written for Nurse.com, Nurse.org, MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University, the ANA blog, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online publications.