Be creative - career troubleshooting

Nurses can breathe new life into their careers with a few creative approaches that don’t require a new job or change of specialty. The key is to determine the source of your desire for change, and then consider the following options as possible solutions.

Here are a number of signs that you could be in need of career rejuvenation, along with helpful suggestions.

Lack of energy and gusto Career fatigue happens to everyone. Unlike many occupations, however, nursing allows for flexible scheduling to give you a break when you need it the most. Consider shifting to part-time work to give yourself some free time to think about what it is you really want to do with your nursing career. Do you want to go back to school, volunteer more, advocate for better health outcomes?

Because of the expected nursing shortage, some organizations understand the value that nurses place on flexible hours and may offer flexible scheduling. Learn more about how to recognize and establish a thriving workplace, including flexible scheduling, at the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union site.

Frustrated and apathetic This kind of career apathy happens when we feel powerless in our jobs, especially when working at warp-speed. Let your frustration be a motivator for creativity. Now is the time to find a starting point for change.

First, look for ways to improve or alter your current role or the outcome of the work. Before proposing a change, develop an action plan for how to change your role for the better. Don’t hesitate to propose the acquisition of a new nursing skill in order to improve your role.

Research shows that while nursing autonomy is often supported (or limited) by an organization, it can be facilitated by nurse leaders. Learn more about developing autonomy, one of the key attributes of Professionalism in Nursing, a Best Practice Guideline by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

Restless and bored If you do the same work day in, day out, it’s normal to feel stagnant. Consider examining how to improve and enhance (not add to!) the role you are currently in, and heed the following advice about workplace burn out.

Caution! Burn out can occur among dedicated nurses. Work overload, lack of control and absence of reward or recognition are the top drivers of career burn out. But there are three factors that can counterbalance and therefore prevent nursing burnout.

1. Co-worker camaraderie: Unity among nurses has been shown to have a powerful effect on job satisfaction. Consider how you can contribute to a work environment that is harmonious, respectful and above all, cognizant of recognizing work well done.

2. Workplace fairness: Organizational justice is important to everyone’s sense of on-the-job fairness. If you feel like some people aren’t being treated the same as others, consider approaching your employer with suggestions to improve the situation.

3. A job that aligns with your values: The key to ensuring your work is meaningful is to understand your work values. Examine the times you were unhappy at work. For example, maybe you weren’t given proper credit for a project you worked hard on. This could mean recognition is important to you. If you are unhappy in your current role doing the same tasks, it could mean that variety is important to you (there are lots of nursing positions that offer daily variety!). General values include, variety, autonomy, flexible hours, training opportunities, status, recognition, pay, etc.

Next you need to evaluate your current position’s offerings against your key values. Where it comes up short, consider creative solutions, such as a way to get more recognition or add variety.