On episode 111 of The Nurse Keith Show, we reference a blog post that digs into the notion of the nurse’s report card and how to improve your “grades”.
The aforementioned blog post begins thus:
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 cards can be a measurement of performance, communication, talent, intelligence, diligence, attention to detail, time management, relationships, and many other categories. In some schools, letter grades are the norm, while in some alternative schools, there aren’t any grades at all. Sometimes, our report cards are pass\fail, and we either make the cut or we don’t. And sometimes those grades just don’t seem fair.
And here are the categories in need of “grading” per that post:
Your career toolbox:
I’ve written and podcasted about the nursing career toolbox before, so let’s review what that means. Inside your nursing career toolbox is your basic resume, skeleton cover letter and thank you letter; your LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn strategy; your business card (yes, you need one); apps and tools that make your life easier; your professional network; and whatever else moves the needle for you.
If you were to give yourself a grade on the state of your career toolbox, would you get an A? Where could you lean in a little bit more?
Time management can be a bear for anyone living in the 21st century. Since nurses are more apt to take on the burden of caring for their neighbors, friends, family, and even strangers, we can be hard pressed to find time for some aspects of our lives that should receive at least a little attention.
What kind of a grade would you get for your time management skills? How often are you late for appointments? How many often do you get home from work much later than you’d like? How badly are you challenged in terms of managing your time in your professional capacity, and how does that impact your family and personal life?
Self-care and wellness:
Self-care and personal wellness can be inextricably connected to time management since we can easily let go of our self-care when time just slips through our fingers. Get to the gym? “Impossible!” Take a leisurely bath? “Are you kidding me?” Go to a movie? “How indulgent!”
How badly are you falling down on the job of self-care, nurses? What would it take to reprioritize it once again and get it back on the calendar? Is it solely a time management issue, or do we need to give you a D in prioritizing your own health and well-being?
Collaboration, teamwork, and relationships:
Teamwork and collaboration are about how you get along with others in the sandbox. Collaboration is key in most sectors of nursing and healthcare, and some of us are better at it than others. Is working on a team hard for you? Do you chafe at sitting through committee meetings? (I know, I know; meetings are usually deadly boring.)
If you work in home health, you need to collaborate with the therapists, case managers, schedulers, and aides. In med/surg, you’re talking with doctors, surgeons, RTs, interventional radiologists, and other nurses. It’s a circus of personalities and ways of being.
Teamwork, collaboration, and professional development are so important; how are you doing in this regard? Is there something that needs to change so that you develop yourself in this career area?
Many nurses wait to do assiduous networking until they’ve lost a job and are in the job market, desperate to find work. If you’re not consistently and actively building your network and nurturing professional relationships, you’ll likely get a D or F in this category.
Happiness and satisfaction:
Being happy in your personal and professional lives should be something that’s measured on your career report card. Maybe you do all the “right” things but you’re still miserable; in that case, something has to give.
Your resume may be awesome and your nursing skills could be through the roof, but if you’re in the dumps every day about the direction your career is heading, it’s time for a change.
What is it that makes you tick? Where do you find satisfaction? How do you manifest joy in your life?
How would you grade your personal and professional happiness and satisfaction? Be honest!
It’s easy to fall into stagnation in your nursing career. We’ve likely all done it at times, and this type of complacency can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, and downright unhappiness and misery.
Career development means different things to different nurses, and it can all depend on where you are in your nursing career.
For you, it might mean earning a BSN, MSN, PhD, or DNP. For someone else, it’s volunteering and meeting new people. For yet another nurse, it might entail becoming an EHR super-user or joining a QA committee at work. You might join your state nursing association and learn how to lobby your legislators about important public health bills under consideration. Career development is a personal journey, and how you develop your nursing career is as idiosyncratic as it is important.
Meanwhile, we acknowledge that there are times when doing anything at all about our careers is the furthest thing from our minds. When a baby has been born, a parent is ill, or a spouse is disabled or out of work, the personal understandably takes precedent over the professional. But when the dust clears and life is more or less on an even keel, it’s time to lean in once again.
Read the rest of the original post and listen to the podcast episode in order to glean how I wrap the whole subject up in a neat little bow.
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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith was previously the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”
He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and has written for Nurse.org, Nurse.com, MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online platforms.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur.