Monday, May 08, 2023

Nursing the Nation and the World

Nurses are everywhere. They are legion. The ubiquitous nurse is present in the care of children, the elderly, the disabled, and the dying. Nurses don't shy away from responsibility — they embrace it. Nurses run towards the metaphorical fire. Just as firefighters rush into burning buildings and police officers run towards the active shooter, nurses don their gloves and deal with the sputum, the blood, the pus, the emesis, the feces, and the urine — body fluids be damned, there's work to do and nurses do it. 

The Ubiquitous Nurse

Where would the country be without nurses? Without nurses, the healthcare system would essentially grind to a halt. We call nurses the lifeblood of healthcare, and they're also the connective tissue and the veritable mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses of the delivery of patient care. 

But nurses are more than that. Ask most members of the public, the media, and even legislative bodies, and they'll tell you that nurses take care of sick people in hospitals. However, if only 55 percent of nurses work in acute care facilities, there's a whole lot more that they do. Hospitals are crucial, of course, but there's more to nursing than units like the ED, the ICU, med-surg, and telemetry. 

Nurses nurse the nation in schools, dialysis centers, assisted living, nursing homes, home health, hospice, and public health. Nurses case manage patients with tuberculosis, fulfill critical roles in patient transportation and life flight, and they provide cancer navigation and care coordination. Nurses are coaches and case managers. They take part in research, and they can be employed in the pharmaceutical industry and biotech. We need nurses on cruise ships, at Disney World, and in adult day care facilities and occupational health centers.

We may not identify that nurse entrepreneurs are essential to the nursing of the nation, but legal nurse consultants, coaches, podcasters, bloggers, medical writers, medical product creators, and nurse owners of private duty home health agencies perform services that touch the lives of millions. 

The fact is, nurses fulfill so many roles and perform such a plethora of tasks that it's not easy to enumerate them all. The ubiquitous nature of the nurse is incontrovertible. 

Nursing the World

Our vision of the nurse is not, of course, limited to any one country. Nurses hold up the sky in Ghana, the Netherlands, Japan, and the islands of Micronesia. Australian and Chinese nurses are the brethren of those in Argentina, and although some of our practices, responsibilities, and approaches may differ, the basic tenets of nursing are the same. While nurse practitioners may be gaining increased autonomy here in the United States, APRNs in other countries may not be so blessed with such freedoms. 

Nurses volunteer for organizations like Doctors Without Borders, and we must not forget the nurses whose lives are on the line every day in war zones like Ukraine. Armies, navies, and other military bodies employ the services of highly trained nurses, and their ministrations are essential. 

Yes, nursing and healthcare have their incessant and seemingly intractable problems. Nurses are uncivil to one another, and nurse bullying is prevalent enough that there are books, articles, blog posts, and research dedicated to its eradication. Nurses are leaving — or threatening to leave — the profession in droves, and we are wringing our hands as nurse attrition mounts and schools lack the spaces for enough new nurses to fill the gaps. The profession is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, and burnout and compassion fatigue are commonly shared conditions. 

Healthcare is itself dysfunctional, and monied interests have eroded the public's trust, not to mention caused major disruptions in the delivery of appropriate care, especially when insurance companies choose to charge patients more and more but allow less and less, pandering to shareholders and leaving patients holding the bag. 

The good and the bad notwithstanding, nursing the world is a tall order, and nurses are up to the job. Responsibility, compassion, critical thinking, manual dexterity, and communication must all come naturally to the nurse. 

Legislators, the public, and the media ignore nurses' many challenges at their peril. Perhaps if enough nurses leave the profession and patients are wondering where the nurses went, a wake-up call will be sounded and we will recognize the crisis at our doorstep. Still, there are nurses who will slog it out every day in the muck and mire, fight the good fight, and push their way through all resistance. 

Yes, nurses are legion. Nurses are ubiquitous. Nurses are essential. Nurses are powerful. Nurses nurse the world. 


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a Board Certified Nurse Coach offering holistic career development for nurses and healthcare professionals. All things Nurse Keith can be found at

Keith is the host of The Nurse Keith Show, his solo podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the  nursing profession. written for,, Springer Publishing, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University,, Diabetes Lifestyle, the ANA blog,, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality, social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. 

Living in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, Keith shares a magical life with his partner, Shada McKenzie, a gifted, empathic, and highly skilled traditional astrologer and reader of the tarot.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Nurse Be Nimble, Nurse Be Quick

The notion of pivoting in your nursing career isn't a new one, and that readiness to pivot can emerge from a nimbleness of mind and a willingness to read the tea leaves of your career. Nurse, are you nimble?

Nurse Be Nimble, Nurse Be Quick

Monday, April 24, 2023

A Strategic and Thoughtful Approach to Transitions in Life and Career

Life is filled with moments of transition: marriage and divorce, birth and death, graduation, dropping out, health crises, comings and goings, and everything in between. How we approach transitions can be influenced by myriad factors, including, but not limited to, our social supports; our emotional, spiritual, and psychological health; and the nature of the transition itself.

Whether it's a professional/career transition like getting fired or graduating from college, or a personal transition such as the birth of a child or the death of a loved one, transitions and how we tackle them matter greatly in the context of our lives, careers, families, personal development, and overall well-being.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Letting Your Nursing Career Magic Out of the Hat

Nurses, do you need some magic to get your nursing career back on track? Career development for nurses isn't rocket science, but manifesting some magic and joy for the betterment of your career is certainly possible if you want it. Is it time to let the rabbit out of the hat?

Career Magic

Monday, April 10, 2023

When the Career Cookies Crumble

As a seasoned career coach working with nurses and other healthcare professionals, I often hear stories from my clients that are both heartbreaking and maddening. Nurses and nursing students go through so much in their careers, and there can be plenty of pain, struggle, and blood, sweat, and tears along the way. And when things go south and a nurse's career seems endangered, it can be a frightening and worrisome time.

No matter the cause of a nurse's career cookies appearing to crumble, there's almost always a way to get things back to the way they should be. I've seen so many varied scenarios of how a nursing career can take a bad turn, and I've seen many nurses turn it around and get back on top once again.

crumbled cookie

Monday, April 03, 2023

Nurses, Parachutes, Stools, and the Career You Truly Want

Being a nurse is a wonderful career and avocation. In the course of attempting to build an amenable lifestyle and workstyle, things can get confusing, but there are plenty of resources for the earnest nursing professional who wants support in taking their career to the next level.

Nurses and parachutes
Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash

Monday, March 13, 2023

Your Nursing Career Report Card

Remember the days when you'd run home with your report card to show your parents how you did in school? Or were you the kid who hid it at the bottom of your bag so they wouldn't see it? Well, your nursing career deserves a report card, too. How've you been doing and what grade do you think you deserve?

report card A+

Monday, February 27, 2023

What's On Your Nursing Career Runway?

Your nursing career can feel like a busy airport, a marathon, a bus terminal, a rickshaw ride, or a taxi careering the wrong way down a one-way street. If your nursing career is an airport, and you're readying your plane on the runway in order to take flight, what's on your runway and who's behind the controls?

Your nursing career runway
Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

Monday, February 20, 2023

Overcoming Mission Drift in Your Nursing Career

Has your nursing career drifted off course? Do you feel that your current career path isn't aligned with your personal or professional mission? You're not alone, and there's something you can do about it.

adrift at sea

Monday, February 13, 2023

Feeding Your Nursing Career

Your nursing career is a lot like your body; it needs to be fed, watered, exercised, and well-rested in order to function optimally. What kinds of nutrition does your career need? What nutritional deficits does your nursing career demonstrate? Are you willing to feed your career as well as you feed your own body?

Monday, February 06, 2023

Metacognition: Thinking About Your Thinking About Your Nursing Career

In the world of nursing and non-nursing education, metacognition is a common pedagogical concept for nurse educators to consider when working with students on the path to becoming licensed healthcare professionals. Metacognition is at its most basic the act of thinking about your thinking. Aside from its commonplace setting of education, metacognition can be also considered in terms of how we approach our nursing careers and professional lives. So let's stop and think about our thinking, shall we?

Thinking about your thinking: nurse metacognition
Photo by Ricards Zalmezs on Unsplash

Monday, January 30, 2023

Defining Nursing Career Success on Your Own Terms

Every nurse and healthcare professional has the opportunity to define success in their own way. However, how many of us allow our nursing careers to be defined by someone else. How can we seize control of our careers and define success on our own terms?

How do you define nursing career success?
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Monday, January 23, 2023

Your Nursing Career and a Latte?

Just the other day, I was drinking a latte (decaf---I'm an unapologetic caffeine lightweight), and I realized that there's a very appropriate metaphor related to nurses, nursing, and a perfectly brewed latte. It may sound silly, but it may be more apt than you imagine at first.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Spinning It Positive in Nursing Job Interviews

Nurses, when you're sitting in a job interview for a new nursing position, do you feel like you have to constantly be on the defensive? Are you anxious about how to respond to questions that seem to be geared towards creating a crack in the foundation of your career and self-confidence? Do you tremble at the thought of verbal swordplay?

Monday, January 09, 2023

Acing Your Next Nursing Job Interview — 4 Common Questions to Prepare For

 Job interviews can be a source of stress for both novice and seasoned nurses, and being prepared for some of the most common questions can give you the confidence to ace your next nursing interview. 

Monday, January 02, 2023

Your Nursing Career: Intentions and Positive Change

When the New Year begins in earnest, many of us nurses start to consider what we'd like to accomplish in our personal lives and nursing careers. We can run around like chickens afraid that the sky is falling all around us, or we can set our intentions and plan for an inspired year.

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Conscious Creation of Your Nursing Career

As the year comes to an end, it's always a good time to pause, reflect, and take stock of the current state of your nursing career. As I've often said in my writing, podcasts, and keynote addresses, you can always choose to allow your career to happen to you, or you can instead take inspired action and make it happen. Which sounds better to you? 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Nurse Specialist or Nurse Generalist?

Nurse specialists and nurse generalists are both common within the nursing profession and 21st-century healthcare, and both serve important purposes in patient care as well as non-clinical settings. What does it mean to choose to be a specialist or generalist? What are the repercussions for your nursing career? And how can one accomplish both?

nurse and newborn
Photo by wang dongxu on

Monday, December 05, 2022

Nurses, The Holidays, and Work-Life Balance

There's no doubt about it, nurses; it's the holiday season, and many of us are feeling the pressure in our personal and professional lives. How do the holidays impact you, your mental and emotional health, your spiritual well-being, and your professional responsibilities as a nurse?

Monday, November 28, 2022

Six Steps to Being a Better Nurse Communicator

One of the most important non-clinical skills for a nurse to develop is strong powers of communication. Nursing care is built on the foundation of communication -- both patients and colleagues figure largely in a nurse's world, and being able to listen well and speak your truth clearly is absolutely essential both on the job and in your daily life. 

Speak your truth
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Monday, November 21, 2022

Lions, Gazelles, and Nurses: The Herd Mentality at Work

Nursing has a hierarchy of power and experience just like any other profession; in fact, it also has a hierarchy that sometimes feels akin to the laws of survival on the savanna or in the jungle.

Have you ever observed that the less experienced and more vulnerable nurses frequently get left on the outside, often falling prey to bullies and "predators"? This is the herd mentality at its worst, and many novice nurses are taken down by bullies and power-hungry colleagues who eat them alive when they're demonstrating the slightest weakness.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Nursing Career Change and the Soul

When a nurse needs a career change, the reasons can be myriad and multifaceted. However, when we only reach for the money or for career "advancement", we may miss a golden opportunity for a different kind of personal and professional blossoming to take place.

The road to your optimal career

Monday, November 07, 2022

10 Strategies for Feeding the Nurse's Inner Life

In managing their careers and busy lives, nurses can be very focused on the "outer" aspects of life and work: family, chores, shopping, resumes, job-hunting, pursuing education, social media, etc. But how do we keep the nurse's inner life fed and watered? Let's explore ten strategies for cultivating that inner life and nurturing happiness, wellness, and personal/professional balance as 21st-century nurses with very full lives and careers to grow.

Nurture your inner self
Photo by Atolu Bamwo on

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Genius is Relative, Nurses!

Are you a nurse who sometimes beats herself up because you've focused so much on your specialty practice area that you've lost touch with other aspects of nursing? Are you highly skilled at reading ECGs but couldn't interpret an ABG (arterial blood gas) if your life depended on it? Are you a nurse business owner completely removed from the clinical world? There are all kinds of nurses out there, and you really can't know everything, even if you're a real life nurse polymath. Genius is relative, and we all have our own unique brilliance and gifts to bring to the table.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Nurses, Nursing, and the Nature of Suffering

In the course of many nurses' healthcare careers, witnessing the illness, suffering, and death of others is commonplace. From dialysis and med-surg to home health and the ICU, nurses create therapeutic relationships with patients and their families, providing spiritual and emotional comfort, compassion, and expert skilled care based on many decades of nursing science and evidence-based interventions.

Aside from witnessing the challenges faced by others, nurses are themselves human beings with their own life experiences, victories, and suffering. How a nurse navigates their own personal suffering plays a role in determining how they approach life, work, and the overlapping of the two.

the nature of suffering and nursing
Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash