On episode 171 of The Nurse Keith Show, we discuss how your nursing job can feel like an old worn out but comfortable shoe or a bed of nails. Either scenario can lead to frustration and stagnation — how do you gracefully exit, stage left?

a bed of nails

This episode is a companion to an original blog post on Digital Doorway. Here are some excerpts for your consideration:

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

I hear from many nurses who are in a nursing position that matches a number of the above-named aspects. When a nurse feels stuck and in a rut, there are plenty of questions to ask, including but not limited to:

  • 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? 

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

Being miserable, stagnant, and pained at work is no picnic. And you know what? It’s not necessary at all — you always have the choice to make a move, look to a new horizon, or otherwise exit gracefully, stage left.

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?

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?

Please click here to read the entire original post!



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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.

As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators.

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.