Monday, December 13, 2021

Your Nursing Career: Stagnation or Flow?

As nurses, our careers are fed by movement, not stagnation. Nursing can be a very dynamic career path, and how you approach the trajectory of your professional development can be greatly influenced by many aspects of your life. At this point in time, is your career stagnant or flowing?

Stagnant or Flowing? 

When you take examine your nursing career, is it a flowing river of possibility and growth, or is it a dry riverbed hungry for the moisture of your curiosity?

The flow of your career is a perpetual movement if you allow it to be, and you must consistently guard against burnout and the loss of ambition and motivation.

Still Waters Run Deep

While forward movement is what we seek in the bigger picture, stillness can also be our ally, especially if it's stillness born of contemplative curiosity, not of complacency or fear.

Making a change in your employment out of a simple burning need for change isn't necessarily a great strategy. It's sort of like moving across the country in search of what's frequently called a "geographic cure". The novelty may help for a while, but decisions made with more forethought and reasoning are generally recommended (and are often more fruitful).

If you're feeling the need for change but aren't certain what that change should be, looking inward for guidance can sometimes be more powerful than looking outward.

Being Expansive 

At different times, we flow like a river, sit still like a deep, cold lake, or we feel expansive like the sea. That expansiveness can be where the ideas flow, and these times can be when you reach out to those who can open your mind to the possibilities that you're not able to see. At such moments of expansion, we allow our hearts and spirits to take the broader view.

When we feel stuck in our nursing career and can't seem to see the forest for the trees, expansive energy like the ocean may be what we need to prop the door open to greater possibilities.

The ocean cycles through its tides, and it never argues with what comes naturally. For us, it's the same -- our careers can hit low tide or high tide, a period of ebb or flow, and our success, happiness and satisfaction depend on how much we can remain open to what's next.

Fly Free

Your nursing career should not feel restrictive; rather, it should feel expansive and filled with possibility.

If your career is not at a place of expansion, don't despair -- there are places to turn for support. You can find the people to lean on, the professionals to advise you, and a deep place within you that may have all of the answers you need.

You were meant to fly, not to be boxed in or pigeonholed. Look for the avenues that offer growth and a sense of possibility, and then lean into those places. If one street leads to a dead end, turn around and go elsewhere. The map isn't necessarily predetermined, and the outcome is up for grabs. And sometimes, when the path isn't entirely clear, we create the path by taking the first step.

I wish you the flight of your life. And when you look down at that ocean or river of possibility, know that there's enough abundance for all to experience a nursing career filled with satisfaction, growth, and joy.

Enjoy the ride.

(All photos by Keith Carlson)


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,, 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 and highly skilled traditional astrologer and reader of the tarot. They regularly cavort with their remarkably adorable animal companions, George, Buck, and Lorca. You can find George the Cat on Instagram using the hashtag #georgethecatsantafe. 

No comments: