Private eyeIf you’re an older nurse, you might remember TV shows and movies with a private eye or detective carrying a magnifying glass as he or she doggedly searched for clues to solve a perplexing case. You might remember Columbo, The Rockford Files, or any number of shows or movies. If you’re a younger nurse, you might be more likely to think of Sherlock with actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

When it comes to your nursing career, you need to be your very own private eye or detective because good ol’ Sherlock or Columbo won’t be able to help you with this particular case.

Your assessment of your nursing career is the gathering of facts and clues. And what are you looking for exactly? Here are some potential questions to ask yourself — this is only the beginning of the assessment, but you’ll get the picture.

  • Am I happy in my nursing career?
  • Do I feel well taken care of by my employer and colleagues?
  • Is the culture of my workplace supportive, kind, and collaborative?
  • Does my workstyle interfere with my lifestyle?
  • Is there something I want that I don’t have (in my work or my life)?
  • How could I make my career even more satisfying and fun?
  • Am I bored or engaged in my work and career?
  • Are my contributions seen as valuable?
  • Could I earn more money and receive more respect elsewhere?
  • Is there room for advancement in my current workplace?
  • What are my values?
  • What is my personal mission as a nurse and human being?
  • Does my work reflect my values and personal mission?

How do we know what to do next and solve the case? Well, dear Watson, it’s elementary.

Sherlock Holmes character with magnifying glassSome workplaces are simply too toxic to tolerate, and we simply need to parachute out of there and land in a new situation. Just leaving can work, but a little healing along the way can help. Other workplaces may actually be just fine, but we may be carrying such negativity with us that we project it onto our colleagues and employers, creating a scenario where just can’t let go of our seething anger about what’s happened to us in the past. This is a recipe for chronic dissatisfaction.

If your workplace is deadly toxic and beyond the hope of change, you clearly need to get out of there. If you realize you’re physically unhealthy and the source of your unhappiness is that you’re in pain, out of shape, eating poorly, sleep-deprived, and not looking after yourself, then by all means do what needs to be done to turn that around. If an addiction is nipping at your heels, get help. If nights are killing you, switch to days in the interest of your survival as a nurse.

A healthy, fit nurse who feels good about his body, prioritizes his health, and loves his work will be much more effective on the job. That’s elementary, for sure.

Your well-being in your career is elementary because you simply need to break down the elements of your career, workstyle, and lifestyle, and then do your due diligence and the hard work that will bring you to the next glorious chapter of your life and career.

For now, case closed. But keep your Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass on hand — you never know when your career will need further investigation down the road.


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Nurse KeithIn 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. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, the therapeutic story coach and writer, Mary Rives, and their remarkably adorable and intelligent cat, George.