Building Your Nursing Career House, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 83

As a nurse, the house of your nursing career must stand on a solid foundation; once that foundation has been laid, your career can be built in the form of any structure you see fit. How are you building the house of your nursing career? This episode of The Nurse Keith Show relates to a recent blog post on Digital Doorway, and also builds upon episode 81 and episode 82 as the culmination of an unintended three-part series.

In the aforementioned blog post, I discuss the foundation of the nursing career and its importance to establishing your place in the profession:

Every career must be built upon a foundation of skill, knowledge, and expertise that serves as the underpinnings of the trajectory of that professional process. Formal education is one way that we begin to build that foundation, although in previous generations apprenticeship was the vehicle of acquiring what was needed to succeed in a particular trade.

As a nurse, your foundation is built by cinder blocks of expertise acquired during your nursing school experience (or experiences); and as a novice nurse, you continue to hone skills that need more practice, and you acquire new knowledge along the way. If you begin to specialize in a specific form of nursing, the particular database of that area of focus becomes central to the architecture of your career.

Once that foundation is laid, there is nothing holding you back (except yourself and the judgments of others) in terms of what you do next with your career.

Your nursing career house does not need to look like anyone else’s; it doesn’t have to resemble the careers that you were told were exemplars of what a “normal” nurse does. Some architects stick with the modes of building that everyone expects, and the results can indeed be perfectly suitable. However, the tried and true path can sometimes feel stale or unoriginal, and taking a meandering journey may be what works for some who choose to differentiate from the norm.

Your career house may have a tin roof, a slate roof, or a roof made of high-tech mini solar panels. You may choose to heat the house of your career with the fuel of creative pursuits (art, music, filmmaking, podcasting) or with the fuel of intellectual prowess (a PhD, an added degree in law, or perhaps the writing of books that inspire the next generation of nurses to even greater heights).

Making changes to your career may feel uncomfortable, and some scaffolding may need to go up while it’s under construction. In this episode, I talk about what it takes to, perhaps, change specialties or start a business or creative venture, and there may be some dust and disarray along the way.

Your nursing career house may have scaffolding when under construction, and it may sometimes feel drafty as you build a fresh new structure in which to live as a nurse. The wiring and plumbing may feel dodgy when you’re uncertain about what’s next, and you may have to flush a lot of waste down the toilet if your self-worth has taken some hits over the years and you need to release outmoded ways of thinking.

But once it’s all over, you will have something new and novel, an iteration of your nursing career that moves you beyond your wildest dreams of what was possible.

When you’ve come through a period of career demolition and reconstruction, the dust will eventually settle. As that dust clears, you can get out a broom and dustpan, mop the floor, repaint the walls, and then invite everyone to the ceremony when you’re ready to cut the ribbon on the new iteration of the house of your nursing career. Whether you’re launching a new business or simply changing specialties, invite others to share in your excitement and joy.

Build your foundation, add windows, tear down walls, and demolish that which no longer serves you. When your nursing career transitions to its next home, you can stand back, admire your handiwork, and dig into the next chapter that you have built from the sweat equity of your own labor, thought, ambition, and love.


The episode of the Nurse Keith Show sponsored by StaffGarden, episode of The Nurse Keith Show is brought to you by my friends at StaffGarden, a unique digital healthcare company allowing nurses to create a private online ePortfolio that StaffGarden shares with high-quality employers (with your permission, of course) in order to connect you with the best facilities and positions.

StaffGarden partners with fantastic employers seeking the best candidates in the nursing profession; through powerful partnerships with the recruiters and talent acquisition professionals employed by these healthcare leaders, they deliver your ePortfolio directly to the people who are looking for nurses just like you.

Having a StaffGarden ePortfolio and landing a job with a partnering employer costs you nothing. However, your ePortfolio will get you noticed for positions that you would likely not have access to through traditional ads or job postings.

As a nurse, partnering with StaffGarden adds depth and breadth to your job search process, as well as your exposure to some of the most progressive healthcare employers in the country. Allow SG to work for you and connect you with some of the greatest job opportunities in 21st-century healthcare.


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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 was previously 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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