Lacks joy in 20 years of nursing jobs

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I have been a nurse for almost 20 years but I am still waiting on a job that I truly enjoy. I have worked in various areas mental health, community, acute care, education, clinical informatics, but lacked joy and didn't stay long. I recently received my masters degree in nursing. I really love learning, I could read for days, I love being by myself and making decisions on my own. I don't like high pressure environments. I like routine and clear work duties. I feel a bit lost as I don't know where I fit. I check the nursing job boards but very few jobs interest me. I am a second career nurse, I worked in business in a call centre of I didn't like it. Any advise what I can do to find an interesting job that I enjoy? Thank-you in advance.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Lost,

Now that is a tough question! What I'm thinking is, if you do not know what you find interesting, I'm not sure how much help I'll be to you.

Twenty years is quite an investment as is earning your master's degree. What specialty track is your master's degree in? Leadership, education...gerontology? Surely at the time you decided to pursue higher education, you had a goal in mind. Can you rediscover that desire?

Have you thought about legal review? You have a wide background and love to read. You could apply your experience and expertise to consulting on legal cases. If you find you love it, you could go on to become a legal nurse consultant.

You love learning, can you see yourself being a teacher and sharing your love of learning, inspiring others? You mention you've been in education, but staff development in a hospital is very different than being an educator in an academic setting.

If you live near a large university, there may be opportunities for research, since you are studious.

Many people who love reading have good writing skills. Companies such as Lippincott (Wolter-Kluwer), HealthStream, and Relias, employ nurses who can write test questions (items) and develop content.

Case management and utilization review allow you to work independently, often remotely, while making decisions in a well-defined framework.

If you have a lack of joy in all areas of your life, consider that you may have a low-level depression. Or maybe you have just been picking jobs that aren't the best match for you.

I really hope you find something that brings you fulfillment.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Look into government jobs - city, county, state.  I know public health nurses that work for the county & make good $/benefits.  Depending on your location, there might be jobs at the state boards, Medicaid programs, state public health etc. etc.  Your MSN will be really helpful and your love of learning would be a good fit for something out there.

Specializes in MSN.

Finding a job that you enjoy is the key. I worked bedside nursing for a while but I knew it wasn't for me. I found a non-bedside position and have stuck with it for a few years. I've been working as RN assessment coordinator. I've been pursuing my MSN and I'm almost done. 

have you looked into other positions like case manager, research, teaching and etc? There are so many areas to consider.