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5 Steps to Nursing Career Satisfaction

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Achieving satisfaction in your nursing career isn’t rocket science, but in a complex 21-century world, life and work demand more of us on every level. Satisfaction is an individual experience, yet there are many universal means to getting there.

5 Steps to Nursing Career Satisfaction
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This article is featured in the July 2018 edition of our allnurses Magazine...

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1. Be a curious lifelong learner

As a nurse, learning doesn't stop when you pass the NCLEX and get hired for your first job -- in fact, learning should never really stop at all. Your nurse's brain should be a sponge that continues to soak up experience, skills, and knowledge. The engine that can drive this particular bus is curiosity.

Checking off your required CEUs to maintain your nursing license and certifications is great, but learning can be so much more. Being a curious and inquisitive nurse who asks meaningful questions and digs deep for answers will serve you well. Use your innate curiosity about human behavior, science, and medicine to keep your mind flexible and ready to embrace new information and experiences.

2. Get personal

Workaholism is rampant in many industrialized cultures, and we can easily allow ourselves to be led down the road of identifying ourselves solely by the work we do. Nothing will reduce your career to a monotonous grind more quickly than not paying attention to your life outside of work.

"I'm a nurse", "I'm a plumber", or "I'm an insurance salesman" is a fine thing to say when meeting someone for the first time, but we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we may also be a mother, a watercolor painter, or a long-distance runner.

Only identifying as a nurse puts an inordinate amount of pressure on that identity to deliver the lion's share of your fulfillment. Widen the net by maintaining active awareness of the other things that light your fire. Acknowledging and feeding your personal life and interests will inform your career trajectory and your work as a nurse.

3. Connect with your inner "multitudes"

Building on the idea of the importance of your personal life, it's also crucial to be a well-rounded human being with diverse interests.

As mentioned above, there may be things you do outside of work that put a fire in your belly and a smile on your face.

Whether your interests are intellectual (e.g.: studying art history); physical (e.g.: running marathons); or otherwise (e.g.: reading poetry), these pursuits remind you that you're more than "just" a nurse - as Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass, "I am large; I contain multitudes".

4. Reach out and say hello

Networking is key to career fulfillment. When we stay inside our little nursing boxes and maintain a narrowly focused web of acquaintances and colleagues, we limit our exposure to novel ways of thinking, working, and living.

A robust professional network keeps fresh ideas and people circulating in your heart and mind, pushing you outside of your comfort zone. Having connections with people in other disciplines, geographic areas, and walks of life keeps you flexible, curious, and ready for anything.

Whether you use LinkedIn, AllNurses.com, or in-person networking to build your tribe, it's essential to do so. When you cast a wide net in terms of people in your personal orbit, this is where the magic happens. From finding a mentor and making great friends to meeting thought leaders or finding job leads, networking is a powerful way to enrich your life on every level.

5. Nurse, know thyself

Being aware of your own desires, needs, and goals is ultimately very important for having a satisfying personal and professional life. Self-knowledge stretches your sense of self, your worldview, and your professional/personal identity.

Self-knowledge is powerful in relation to your career direction and professional goals, and also in relation to your place in the world, your gender identity, your political stance, or even the financial decisions you make in the interest of your future.

You can deepen your self-knowledge by reading and studying about personal growth, attending workshops and seminars, or even in counseling or psychotherapy. The more you understand yourself and your own motivations and perceptions, the more you can approach your nursing career from a centered and mindful place.

It's Up to You

In the end, your nursing career satisfaction comes down to you. Who are you? What do you want? Where have you been? Where are you going? These are questions to continually ask, and you can dig as deep as you want for the answers.

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, social media influencer, keynote speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With more than two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s career coaching services include resumes and cover letters, LinkedIn optimization, networking and interview skills, career management, and shaping the individualized nursing career that’s just right for you. Keith's message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram--as well as at NurseKeith.com

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Damion Jenkins specializes in NCLEX Prep Expert - 100% Pass Rate!.

Great advice for all! Thank you Nurse Keith for your continued support of the nursing profession!


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