Here on episode 63 of The Nurse Keith Show, we’re talking about

putting a stake in the ground as a nursing professional.

You have many decisions to make along the path of your nursing career journey; you may choose a clinical specialty, pursue further education, seek various certifications, or even launch a business as a nurse entrepreneur.

Put a stake in the ground of your nursing career

Even while it’s an embarrassment of riches that we nurses can select from a dizzying array of career trajectories, it can also feel overwhelming. Nonetheless, we put various stakes in the ground as a means of claiming our place in the healthcare space, and how and why we make those choices is important to the quality of our journey. Taking a stand or outting a stake in the ground is about authentic living, authentic career-building, and expressing your individuality as a nurse, a member of your community, a healthcare professional, and as a human being.

First, for those listeners and readers from other countries, the phrase “putting a stake in the ground” comes from early American settlers who would literally drive pieces of wood—stakes—into the ground in order to claim a piece of land for themselves, and this was apparently a common practice that was popularized during the 19th century Gold Rush in the American West. We also put stakes in the ground in order to hold a tent in place when we’re camping. Metaphorically, putting a stake in the ground means claiming your opinion, taking a stand, or otherwise declaring who you are, what you’re doing, or what you believe.

NurseKeith and American Sentinel UniversityIf you listen to this episode, you’ll hear me tell stories of various ways I’ve put stakes in the ground in the course of my several decades as a nurse. Some examples I discuss in order to illustrate my point are:

  • Choosing to enter a predominantly female profession and feeling good about it
  • Choosing to not find a med-surg position after graduation (something said to be akin to professional suicide)
  • Observing the growing field of coaching, and seeking a path to become a Board Certified Nurse Coach along the way, and then choosing to coach nurses about their careers
  • Entering the worlds of both blogging and podcasting, and positioning myself as an expert and thought leader

Where have you put a stake in the ground in your life and in your career? When have you stood by your convictions, spoke out regarding your beliefs and values, or made a choice to pursue a path that you feel strongly about? Have you been wishy-washy in your nursing career, or have you been bold and decisive? Have you allowed others to make choices for you? Have you chosen the path of least resistance, or have you bucked trends and stuck your neck out with out-of-the-box choices?

Here are some ways you can take action and put a stake in the ground in the interest of the next chapter of your life and your career as a nurse:

  • Take a stand about self-care; choose to make sure that you eat, stay hydrated, and take breaks at work, rather than buy into a workplace culture that promotes poor self-care and self-sacrifice
  • Join a nursing organization or association that speaks to your values or supports an area of practice that’s important to you
  • Ask your local newspaper if you can write a regular column about healthcare
  • Become an expert nurse commentator on a local radio station
  • Speak out publicly about a current topic of concern
  • Write your legislators about issues you care about
  • Go back to school to earn your BSN, MSN, DNP, or PhD
  • Get used to saying “no” when asked to work a double
  • Join a nursing union
  • Launch a blog or podcast to share your opinions with the world
  • Quit your job and travel around the world for 6 months
  • Become a mentor to a new nurse who needs your support
  • Join a committee at your workplace
  • Apply for a promotion
  • Join a local chapter of ToastMasters and learn to be an excellent nurse speaker; then start a new career as a keynote speaker at nursing and healthcare conferences

Taking a stand or putting a stake in the ground can apply to almost anything. You can put a stake in the ground in order to become an expert, speak out about something you care about, or simply take better care of yourself.

How have you put a stake in the ground in the past? What stake will you put in the ground tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?

Choose to take a stand, nurses; put a stake in the ground. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”


NurseKeith and 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.

Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!

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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