The Old Shoe Nursing Job
If you've been working at a decent enough nursing job for a number of years, it can begin to feel like an old worn shoe: comfortable, fraying at the edges, and perhaps less supportive than it used to be.
|Photo by Christian Roßwag on Unsplash|
Perhaps you've had a work experience that reflects at least several of the following characteristics:
- You like your colleagues well enough
- Your bosses are decent
- The work you do is relatively enjoyable -- or at least tolerable
- The salary is stagnant
- Benefits (if you have them) are acceptable but not overwhelmingly generous
- You're not learning very much over time
- You feel like you're just this side of career stagnation
- What about your current job is and is not satisfying?
- What kind of learning happens for you on the job?
- Do you feel like you're growing professionally or just marking time?
- Are you treated well enough? Could you find a more positive and supportive workplace culture?
- Do you feel that you're valued for what you do, or are you just a cog in an organizational wheel?
- If you think about leaving for another opportunity, what kinds of thoughts and feelings do you have? Is it just too scary to consider?
- Are you afraid to leave because it's relatively comfortable? Are you avoiding looking for another job because you feel beholden to stay for your colleagues and/or your patients?
- Do you simply not know what you'd rather do otherwise?
An old shoe may be comfy and familiar, but it can lose its supportive structure and allow your feet to really take a beating. Is your current job kind of like that old running shoe you just can't let go of?
The Nursing Bed of Nails
A nursing job that feels like a bed of nails is just a bad fit. In this scenario, it hurts to get up and go to work. You feel pained, uncomfortable, and vaguely aware that this is a form of torture that would probably be good to escape from, but you may very well feel stuck and unable to move.
Don't get me wrong: a challenging job that pushes you beyond your current comfort zone isn't necessarily a bad thing. This type of situation can be good for your career as it can often motivate you to learn, grow, and take your skills and knowledge to the limit without violating your scope of practice or endangering your patients or your nursing license.
Having said that, many of us have likely been stuck in jobs that felt dangerous, edgy, beyond our ken, and simply too much to handle. A nursing job that pushes you too far and feels unnecessarily painful and difficult can have some of the following characteristics, as well as others not listed:
- You feel as if you're regularly pushed to work beyond your scope of practice
- A bully (or bullies) stalk the halls and make people's lives miserable
- Management is inept, if not downright hostile
- The workplace is riddled with gossip and backbiting
- You don't readily connect with the patient population and feel like caring for them is like nails on a chalkboard
- You don't feel challenged, and your skills, knowledge, and expertise are stagnating
- You feel nauseous, anxious, or plainly fearful when you arrive to work
- Overall, work is just a consistently unpleasant slog
Do you have the gumption and wherewithal to leave? Even a bed of nails can feel oddly comfortable and familiar -- after all, the devil you know can sometimes be better than the devil you don't. Right?
Finding a New Career Frontier
|Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash|
Whether your job feels like a bed of nails or a comfortable old shoe, there's often something that needs to change. If you're not making plans to leave, consider where your resistance is coming from. Is it fear? Is it discomfort with change? Or is there a lack of self-confidence that needs to be overcome?
Whatever the feeling is that's keeping you from busting out and moving on, consider the notion that change can be exciting, renewing, and occasionally revelatory. Fear can either be motivating or demotivating -- which would you prefer?
Consider that if early homo sapiens and other ancient human species were overly afraid of change, they never would have crossed the Bering Straight and populated far-flung continents. If Civil Rights leaders had been too fearful of the reactions of white supremacists, they never would have marched, boycotted, and pushed back against the egregiously racist status quo. And if Florence Nightingale didn't have the courage to buck the system of the good ol' boys of medicine and create biostatistics and crucial practices of infection control, modern nursing might still be in the Dark Ages, serving coffee to physicians who see us as nothing but unskilled non-professional handmaidens.
Consider these questions:
- Is your current job satisfying?
- Are you learning enough to keep engaged and interested?
- Does your workplace feel congenial enough?
- Is the workplace culture positive and supportive?
- Is management responsive and self-reflective?
- Is this job leading somewhere in the context of your career?
Nimbleness, professional and personal growth, forward movement, and the willingness to pivot throughout your nursing career are hallmarks of living and working in the 21st-century healthcare universe -- are you ready for nice new nursing shoes and a more comfortable bed? If you're feeling like you're at the end of your rope, I'll hazard a guess that you're more than ready. What are you waiting for?
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com.
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. Keith has written for Nurse.com, Nurse.org, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University, Black Doctor, Diabetes Lifestyle, the ANA blog, NursingCE.com, 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. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his adorable and remarkably intelligent cat, George. You can follow George the Cat on Instagram using the hashtag, #georgethecatsantafe.