As nurses and healthcare professionals, loyalty to an employer and workplace is something that many of us can relate to, and it’s a double-edged sword. We can also feel loyal to our nursing and non-nursing colleagues, and when considering a new job, we can sometimes convince ourselves that we’d be abandoning our colleagues or patients if we leave.

Workplace loyalty: friend or foe? It’s sometimes fine (but also potentially dangerous) to feel indispensable as a nurse, and it’s OK to feel loyal to your workplace or colleagues; but if those feelings are holding you back from making a needed change, you may be facing the dark side of professional loyalty.

American Sentinel UniversityWhen you’ve been at a particular workplace for a while as a nurse, how loyal do you need to be? If you’ve authentically given of yourself for a considerable amount of time, what’s the “right” time to move on?

You may be hanging onto a nursing job because of the benefits (so many of us find the Affordable Care Act less than affordable!), or perhaps the stability of flexibility are the things that keep you there. But if you’re only staying because you’re afraid your employers or colleagues will be angry with you for leaving, is that really a good enough reason to stay at a job that may be past its prime for you?

A nursing job can feel both symbiotic and parasitic. You work for your employer, and they may or may not exploit you; or perhaps you’re lucky enough that they treat you well. If you are indeed treated well, then your loyalty is more deserved, of course.

If your employer is not offering you any room for advancement or upward mobility, how long can you stay if your ambitions are leading you elsewhere? Ask yourself how invested in you they truly are. How much do they consider your future as a nursing professional, and in your professional development? When you feel guilty about potentially leaving, consider how much your employer actually invests in you, and how much forward movement there actually is for you within that workplace.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you want out of your career?
  • How much does your current employer invest in you on various levels?
  • Is your guilt about leaving justified, or is it somewhat misguided?
  • Will your patients/clients fall apart without you?
  • Will your colleagues fall apart without you?
  • How truly indispensable are you?
  • Does your current position/employer allow for enough vertical movement to justify staying?
  • Is moving on necessary in order for you to achieve what you truly need and want to achieve?
  • What does loyalty mean to you? What were you taught about loyalty as a child?
  • Are you being loyal enough to yourself and your own needs?
  • Is your current position/employer/workplace feeding your ultimate career/workstyle/lifestyle vision?


American Sentinel UniversityThis episode of The Nurse Keith Show is sponsored by the good folks at American Sentinel University. As a fully accredited online university, American Sentinel offers a variety of courses related to healthcare and nursing, including RN to BSN, and five MSN programs: Informatics, Case Management, Nursing Education, Nursing Management, and Infection Prevention and Control. They offer an RN to BSN/MSN, a program, as well as two tracks for those wishing to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. American Sentinel also offers a certificate in Prevention and Control that assists clinicians in acquiring the knowledge they need to develop best practices for infection prevention and control. Please visit for more information.


The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by Tim Hallowell of The; social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at

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 currently writes for MultiViews News Service,, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

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. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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