Job Stagnation: How to recognize and what to do about it!

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    Your first day/week/month/year at a new job, and you can’t imagine ever being bored on the job, or feeling like you aren’t learning anything new. There is just so much going on, new policies, new guidelines, new meds, new patient populations, and so much to learn! But job stagnation can happen to anyone; you go in one day and just don’t feel challenged anymore. Is it time to change jobs? Switch careers? Maybe you just stick it out?

    Job Stagnation: How to recognize and what to do about it!

    Job stagnation is when you are no longer challenged at a job, but stay with the position because of the paycheck, the benefits, or possibly relationships with co-workers. How do you know that what you are facing is job stagnation? To be clear, almost everyone has a day or week at work when we just want to throw in the towel, either because work is insane (based upon population or demand) or our own life stresses are impacting our work life; for some reason, work just seems horrible. But, when this feeling is every day and lasts for a month or more, and you've even tried to take a vacation (which can sometimes recharge your batteries and give you a whole new outlook), maybe you realize you have hit a wall with your career, and you are just in the wrong job right now. Job stagnation is a bigger realization that you need a permanent change.


    You go into work and just do not feel excited for the day; the days meld together and feel monotonous. Why would you want to go in? Some people are really happy doing the same thing every single day, but if you don't feel that way, then it may be time for a change of pace for you.

    Lack of Learning

    Not only do you feel bored, and a lack of challenge at work, but you don't feel like you are offered any education to learn new skills...which you can eventually master. Your job should be offering to support you by sending you to courses off unit to learn more about your current patient population, and the current and most up to date standards of care. If there is a lack of funding for off unit education, education should be brought to you. You may be an expert in your patient care area, but there is always something new to learn, and you should be excited to learn!

    Overwhelmed at Work

    So the opposite of feeling bored, is that you are constantly feeling overwhelmed at work by your workload and completely under supported by your nursing leadership team. Just as much as no one should dread going to work because they are so bored, you shouldn't feel like you are so overworked and under supported that you are anxious and stressed about going to work. Not only is that not good for your mental and physical health, but no job is worth that.

    Opportunities for Growth

    If you verbalize to your manager that you are interested in furthering your career, and they are unable to support you, either because there are no actual opportunities, or they choose to not support your opportunity for growth, your career is truly stagnant where you are. Whether you have a skill set that can be supported by a current open position in your unit/area or elsewhere in the hospital, and you have been overlooked, or there just aren't any available, it may be time for you to move on to a different hospital or unit.

    Sometimes people are scared to make a huge change in their lives and to jump into a new career, perhaps a different nursing unit, or hospital, or a different career altogether, like moving from adult med surg to pediatric oncology, or making the decision to go back to school for a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate degree. I have heard people say that it is a luxury to move jobs, and I am not sure that it is a luxury. It is most definitely a HUGE decision that impacts your family, your life, and it can be stressful to change insurance, pay processes, etc (if you change physical places of work), but the benefits on your emotional and physical well being can be so immense.

    If you feel like you may be stagnant in your job, do yourself a favor and just look at other jobs in the field/area that you've thought about, and just see what is out there for you. If you really feel the pull for one of the positions, just apply! There is no harm in applying for a job, going for an interview, and seeing what the other job might be like. Maybe take a day to shadow in this new position; it may be right for you, or it may not be, but sometimes just challenging yourself and looking at a new position, may give you some new perspective. You may decide that you want to take the leap into this new job because you just loved the staff, and you had a great feeling about the institution and administration, or you might see some red flags, like a lack of ability to grow in the role or a lack of support for continued education (somethings that you may have found as a dead end in your previous job), and maybe realize that it isn't the right job for you. And if it isn't? Keep looking! Network with other nurses that may love their jobs and look into all options; start a thread on to get some opinions from other nurses on what they love about their jobs. And, most importantly, keep an open mind.

    Don't give up hope that a better job is out there for you, that will make you feel fulfilled. You may find that your dream job, where you can look forward to more than a paycheck every week, is out there waiting for you!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jun 14, '18
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    About Bridgid Joseph, BSN, MSN, APRN, CNS Pro

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    Clinical Nurse Specialist, Emergency Cardiovascular Care; from US
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  3. by   GeminiNurse29
    Needed to read this. Thanks.
  4. by   Bridgid Joseph
    Quote from GeminiNurse29
    Needed to read this. Thanks.
    I hope it helps! I think we have all felt this way at some time in our careers.
  5. by   E-commerce
    Good post!

    Remember the old saying "You grow old when you stop laughing" but truth be told "You grow old when you stop innovating"
  6. by   Aronia
    I feel too I am stuck my workplace. don't hate going to workplace but not excited too. Emotional emptiness. Orthopedic Department.
    11 years there. same department. same position.
    the problem is I have a lot of opportunities;
    but in a boring place I am get bored very fast ;Besides; In a boring place people get into personal life of each another; and I hate that.
    in intensive units I am very stressed and its hard for me to function properly.
    Need something between.