Spreading Your Wings: Career Alternatives for Nurses!

  1. I found this artricle interesting and hope you do too:


    Spreading Your Wings: Career Alternatives for Nurses!
    by: Donna Cardillo, RN, BS

    My 20-year nursing career has been an incredible journey - a personal journey of discovering who I am and what I am capable of doing, and a professional journey through the healthcare system that revealed how many different ways and places there are to use my skills and talents as a nurse.

    My career took a nontraditional turn 20 years ago. Partly by choice, partly by chance, I left my beloved emergency department (ED) when I relocated. I was unable to find an ED position on the day shift in my new location and I decided to explore other employment options. I interviewed for a staff position at a medical weight control center. Not only was I hired, but I was offered a head nurse position that had not yet been advertised.

    After 10 months on the job, I was offered the position of center manager. I panicked at the thought of the responsibility. I reminded my superiors that I was "just a nurse" and didn't know anything about sales, marketing, or finances. They understood my reservations but believed I could do the job. Much to my amazement, I gradually learned what I needed to know, and I realized that nurses do this all the time. Aren't we constantly given new challenges, new equipment, new procedures, new regulations, and required to learn new techniques? I had discovered how my skills as a nurse transferred to other areas of healthcare and to the business world.

    After working as the center manager of the medical weight control center, I held a series of interesting positions. These included managing the medical department for a health maintenance organization, coordinating activities for a company that did medical examinations for insurance companies, working in quality assurance and utilization review for a community hospital, and acting as an NCLEX-RN coordinator for a national test preparation company. I had no particular career plan during this time, but I was always learning something new. The more things I tried, the braver I got as I tested the limits of my comfort zone. Even though I was on the fringes of my profession in terms of what most people considered to be a "a nurse," I never doubted that I was contributing substantially to everything I did because I was a nurse.

    I began to realize the value of my nursing skills and knowledge. I also discovered other attributes I had developed as a nurse, including my ability to deal effectively with people under adverse conditions, and the skills to manage, organize, and yes, even sell. Every time I had to convince a patient to adhere to a regimen, or follow though on a test, or present a new way of working to my department, I was selling. As a nurse, I had the ability to do many things at one time, could adapt to any situation and was resourceful, innovative, and flexible. Also important, I had learned to stay calm and to take charge in chaotic and volatile situations. Add leadership to the list!

    Over the course of my career, I was often required to get up in front of a group and speak. When I had to address a group of physicians about reimbursement issues, I considered resigning and moving out of the country just to avoid the task. But after living through the experience, I began to realize that, as a nurse, I had developed the ability to teach. Every inservice I had presented, every orientation I had conducted, every formal teaching session I had done, prepared me to address groups such as this.

    Recently, I have found a way to bring together all of my skills, attributes, and experiences as a nurse. I started my own business conducting seminars on career and professional development topics for nurses and other healthcare professionals. I also do career counseling with nurses. Once again, I discovered that my nursing background had prepared me for entrepreneurship. My communication skills, compassion, listening skills, and ability to teach and counsel all came into play. Additionally, all of the experiences I have had in the clinical setting have contributed to who I am, my personality, my ability to work independently, make decisions, and problem solve.

    What is a nurse? We are healers, teachers, and nurturers. All of these things are still a big part of what I do. Occasionally, someone will ask me, "Why did you leaving nursing?" I quickly reply that I never left my profession and am still very much a nurse.

    Nurses are multitalented, versatile individuals. We each have much to give and much to offer. Don't be afraid to look outside of the traditional role. There are many ways to have a positive impact on patient care. We are vital at the bedside, but we are just as vital in other aspects of the healthcare delivery system. Being a nurse is about who you are, not about where you work. We must look deep inside of ourselves and find new directions for our profession. It is time to celebrate the versatility of nurses. Spread your wings and soar on a journey of discovery.
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    About nightingale

    Joined: Apr '01; Posts: 6,312; Likes: 106
    RN, CLNC, Entrepreneur


  3. by   mopsi
    This is one of the most upbeat posts i've read in awhile....But I noticed hardly anyone even looked at it...and no one of the outspoken bunch had a comment.....The only thing "I" rolled my eyes over was the weight loss thing....as another chub in scrubs I had a twinge from when I went to a weight loss clinic...bad experience here...my assigned helpmate kept telling me to eat peas mixed with hard boiled eggs between my $$$$supplements.I also had a reaction to the aspartamine..my lips swelled up(this was prior to the collagen shot era). I suppose in theory if they kept swelling I would no longer be able to fork food in my mouth, but alas..I gave up on the peas and eggs, the drinks, and svelte ideals.....You have an excellent point as far as the veratility that can be implemented with a nursing background...congrats on your positive view of yourself and career......
  4. by   3651bht
    How right you are. Most of the participants of this site are too busy knocking people down for their beliefs.. We all have our niche in life. We just have to ride the waves of life and hope we land on the beach and not in Jonah's mouth.,...

  5. by   PhantomRN
    Notice how she left bedside nursing, not because of a bad situation but because of a lack of a day position.

    I am glad she was able to break out and do something "out of the box." Wonderful story........When I am ready for a change I will not limit myself to hospital nursing.
  6. by   highasthesky
    This is truly inspiring, and I agree, there needs to be more positive posts like this one! (Although I do enjoy all of them) I'm not a nurse yet, but on my way. Those of us in the process of becoming nurses need to hear more of the positive aspects of the profession! I only hope that my career is half as gratifying as yours has been for you, you sound really happy, and I'm so happy for you!

    PS- I'm going to bookmark your post and next time I read or hear something that intimidates me, I'm going to zoom here and read!
  7. by   SharonH, RN
    Thank you for posting this. It takes a lot of courage to think out of the box as others have put it and look at other options in nursing other than being employed by a hospital. These types of articles are just what we need to encourage us.
  8. by   RNKitty
    I love the thoughts expressed. My mom always said, "They can't take away what you have learned." I was starting to feel nervous about keeping up my license and skills, but now I realize there are MANY options out there, and bedside is just one of them!
  9. by   SICU Queen
    What an interesting article. I am currently working on starting a business with some nurse friends of mine... I'll be hanging around here more I think!
  10. by   Saved_by_Grace
    I know this article is from the long ago past but I had to say thanks for the tips!
  11. by   nightingale
    Thanks for the revival of this great story!
  12. by   zenman
    One of the reasons I've been able to hang around in nursing so long is the ability to do other types of fun things instead of nursing fulltime. At one time I had checks coming in from 4 different "jobs." Cash flow is great!
  13. by   Havin' A Party!
    Enjoyed it!

  14. by   dustydog
    Thanks for the breath of fresh air.