When the old year comes to a close and the new year is set to begin, it’s a golden opportunity for you to take a close look at your nursing career and the nurse who you have come to be. What you see is a manifestation of your career trajectory up until now; how would you like your nursing career to look in the year to come?
What’s Under Your Belt?
When you consider the skills, qualifications, certifications, and nursing knowledge you’ve accumulated, are you happy with the direction you’ve taken? Have your career-related decisions been on the money, and does your work bring you joy and satisfaction? If you’ve spent your entire career working towards your goal of working as a flight nurse, for example, have you reached that goal, and if so, has it met your expectations?
Some nurses choose highly technical clinical career nursing pathways; meanwhile, others pursue research, education, administration, entrepreneurship, and other avenues of professional fulfillment. Has your chosen path delivered the fruit you were after? Have there been any surprises along the way? Are there any ways in which you feel disappointed or disenchanted?
Understanding and appreciating the scope, depth, and breadth of your knowledge and skill is important for many reasons, one of which is taking an inventory of everything that you’ve done and evaluating your level of satisfaction. Acknowledging your strengths and accomplishments is crucial; once you’ve done that, you can move on to planning for the future based on the foundation you’ve already built.
Recognize Your Needs
With a deep recognition of the path you’ve traveled to become the nurse you are today, you can now begin the process of looking towards the future and plotting the next iteration of your nursing career.
If you can be honest with yourself about the aspects of your career that are less than fulfilling, you’re one step closer to formulating a plan for what may come next on the journey. If the patient population you work with feels draining at this point in your career, a shift towards other types of patients might offer new professional challenges.
If you feel feel burnt out where you are, you may want to move elsewhere. If you feel unsatisfied with the amount of patient contact you have in your current position, you may need to switch to a new employer where you can have the contact you’re craving. Sometimes, a simple volunteer experience or per diem gig can be enough to feel like you’re getting your professional needs met and experiencing novelty in your career.
Value Your Career
In order to initiate conscientious and positive change, you need to value your nursing career enough to put in the sweat equity needed to mix things up and create something new. If you see your work as a nurse solely as a paycheck, your level of motivation to take action will likely be low.
Value yourself and your career, dig deep into your motivations, goals, aspirations, and desires, and consider how the new year could be a new lease on your professional life. Change can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be painful; approach this next chapter of your nursing career as an adventure, and move into the new year with excitement and a desire for the most fulfilling year possible.