Dear Nurse Beth,
This summer I'll have been a nurse for 3 years. I started out on a med/surg oncology unit in a hospital and burned out from that very quickly.
I moved to home health after a year in the hospital, and now I work at a cancer clinic, in the radiation oncology department. I fear I ran away from bedside nursing too quickly and should have stuck it out long enough to feel confident in my nursing skills and critical thinking and develop a stronger foundation as a nurse.
Now, I don't use many of my skills in my current job and I feel like I've lost all the skills I worked so hard to learn in school and during my first year as a nurse. I don't feel like a nurse most of the time. I've had 3 jobs in the last 3 years, and I've achieved my goal of working in outpatient oncology, but I feel bored, unchallenged, and that I'm not using any of my nursing skills. I don't want to find ANOTHER new job, as this is my 3rd job since I graduated in 2015. Plus, I figure staying where I'm at might increase my chances of getting hired in the infusion clinic in my building, where I'd get to use nursing skills.
I've considered working at a hospital PRN just to keep up my skills/become confident in my skills as a nurse, but I work M-F full time so in order to do that I would have to have some weeks where I work every day plus a weekend, and I'm not willing to work more than 40 hours a week. What should I do to avoid losing my nursing skills?
You've discovered that there advantages and disadvantages to every role, and consequences for every decision. You no longer have the intensity and challenge of hospital nursing but you are locked into the nicety and routine of M-F.
You ask how to keep up your nursing skills, and it sounds like you've decided to stay where you're at, so I think you've answered your own question
When you are in an unchallenging job, the solution is to re-frame your view. Nursing skills are more than psychomotor skills, such as IV insertions. Nursing is assessment and planning, implementing and evaluating. There is a world of knowledge to learn in oncology. You may not be losing your nursing skills as much as you think.
If you are not feeling challenged, how can you challenge yourself? If you already have your ONS provider card, start thinking about certification. Do any policies and processes in your work area need to be changed, and can you be part of the change?
When stuck, you need to find the passion for your job and your patients again, or make it tolerable by planning your exit. In your case, the decision to stick with it to build your work history is good.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!