Are you the nurse pilot of your nursing career? In a recent blog post, I delved into this idea and then took it further in this podcast episode.

Here are some excerpts from that post:

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?

In terms of your nursing career airplane that’s ready for take off, who’s in the pilot seat? Who’s the co-pilot, and who are the flight attendants?

  • Is your inner career co-pilot a critical mother or overbearing father?
  • Are your career choices controlled by an automatic pilot that won’t take no for an answer?
  • Are your flight attendants busy making coffee when they should be battening down the hatches and locking the doors?
  • Is there so much emotional baggage in the overhead bins that your plane is too heavy to leave the ground?
  • Is the engine of your career overdue for repairs so that the potential velocity of your craft will keep you earthbound?

We all bring baggage to the table of life, and our nursing careers are just one of the places where that baggage make its true weight known. The aforementioned overbearing father or critical mother can be like stowaways on the jet of your career.

When you contemplate your potential choices, do their voices echo in your head?

    • You should have been a doctor.
    • Why did you waste your time on nursing school? 
    • Your brother went into the family business. Why didn’t you? 
    • You’re not smart enough to be a nurse. 

If your career runway is filled with emotional potholes, fading lines, and broken directional signals, perhaps there’s some work you need to do in order to create the most fertile environment for success. Your inner air traffic controller may be on vacation, and the terminal may be closed for renovations, and that’s okay — time is your friend.

When readying for flight, one needs a good mapping system, reliable air traffic control data, a safe runway, a solid plane in which to fly, and a crew that can safely get you where you want to go.

No matter what you think you want, the next step in your nursing career can only truly take flight when all favorable conditions are met. Be patient, be diligent, plan effectively, and make sure that your crew is up to the task and available to be there for you when you need them most.

Prepare the runway, fuel up for the journey, and get excited about what can happen when the conditions are right and the equipment is in tip-top shape.

This episode of The Nurse Keith Show is brought to you by Rasmussen College and their online RN to BSN nursing program, which is designed for working registered nurses who want to earn their BSN while balancing family, work and school.

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Please find Rasmussen College on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and at Rasmussen.edu.


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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.