In the midst of a fast-paced, 21st-century life, it’s possible for a hard-working nurse to experience what I call Nursing Career Attention Deficit Disorder (NCADD). In this context, the nurse in question loses sight of her goals and dreams, instead becoming scattered and distracted by life’s myriad responsibilities and demands; she’s pulled in multiple directions and feels like she’s running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Can NCADD be turned around? Can our distracted minds be tamed in the interest of developing a more satisfying nursing career?

This episode of The Nurse Keith Show is built upon the foundation of a blog post published on November 26th, 2018. Here are the five tips from that post:

Taking action for the betterment of your nursing career can have many components, and it all depends on what you want to accomplish. And how do you know what you want? You make time to think, brainstorm, and dream. Here are the bones of a five-part career action plan for the nurse with NCADD:

1. Open your mind: In order to take the first step of paying more attention to the development of your career, you must first open your mind to the possibility that your career deserves a shot in the arm — it needs to become enough of a priority for you to commit to the work that needs to be done. Once your mind is open to the possibility, a little light begins to shine through the cracks.

2. Do an assessment: The next step is to allow yourself to do an assessment of your career. This may include conducting a SWOT Analysis, deciding where you want to work or live, or otherwise gathering data about what you have, what you’re missing, and what you want.

If time is your greatest challenge, keep a diary for 14 days recording how you spend every minute or hour of your day. Just as writing down everything you spend can help you be more conscious of where your money’s going, recording what you do with your time can have a similar effect. After a week or so, you may realize that you spend 6 hours per week on Facebook, 8 hours watching TV, and 3 hours playing Candy Crush. At this point, the data will begin to speak to you, and you’ll realize that different choices can be made for how you use the 24 hours in each day.

3. Formulate a plan and a commitment: If Facebook is where you seem to be hemorrhaging time every week, you can make a commitment to cut down the hours you spend there. There are time-management and app blockers that can be installed on your phone or computer to limit your access to social media. You can also log your social media time on a piece of paper and simply stop using it when you reach your new daily or weekly limit. It’s simple in theory and harder in practice.

Your plan may include researching DNP programs, updating your resume, learning to use LinkedIn, or connecting with recruiters for your area of specialty.

There are indeed only 24 hours in a day, and it takes conscious effort for you to put some skin in the game and commit to do whatever it takes to get things moving. You may need an accountability buddy to keep you on track: this can be a coach like me, or a friend, colleague, or family member who agrees to hold you accountable and check in regularly about your progress and your adherence to your commitment.

4. Take action: Once you have your plan and a commitment, it’s time for action. Whatever you’ve committed to, it’s now time to operationalize it.

Do you want to engage in career coaching? Make it happen by contacting me or another coach of your choosing.

Do you need information about DNP programs? Create a spreadsheet, make some calls, gather data, or contact my friends at NPForMe for support and solutions about the NP/APRN journey.

Actions speak louder than words, so your written plan is only as powerful as the energy and results you can produce through your own sweat equity.

5. Evaluate and reassess: Just like the nursing process, once you’ve gathered data through a career assessment, diagnosed the problem, and created a plan and appropriate interventions, you now need to evaluate your progress.

If your assessment and diagnosis of a patient determined that his pain level was a 10, your natural plan would be to administer pain meds according to standing orders and then return to the patient’s room in an hour to determine if the pain meds did the trick. If the patient’s pain is unchanged, your diagnosis may have been wrong or your intervention ineffective. When you reassess, a new plan is then formulated to address the patient’s recalcitrant pain.

It’s the same with your career development and action plan: if your interventions don’t produce the desired results, you may need a new plan of action. If you’re just not finding enough time to do what needs to be done, you either need to decrease your commitment or find someone to help you keep it: this may involve hiring a coach, finding a resume writer, or perhaps delegating some of your family responsibilities to others so that you can actually have some time for yourself.


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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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.