How nurses can advance in their careers if they don’t want to be nurses forever

young nurse sitting down upset thinking about different career paths
Written by Sheryl Posnick

Sometimes we get so focused on our current jobs that we forget to focus on “the big professional picture,” which includes our entire career arc—from start to finish. The truth is, we should always think about our professional lives as a journey rather than a single destination and have a plan for the next rungs on our career ladders while we give our best effort on our current step.

This includes all of the nurses out there. While being a nurse is an important and satisfying job that demands a great deal of focus and attention, and also offers professional challenges and options, nurses should also devote some time towards thinking about their full career journeys—and whether or not they want to be nurses forever.

It isn’t uncommon for someone who’s traveled deep (or not so deep) into a career path to start thinking about other paths—many people who are mid-stream in their careers start thinking about making changes, often in an effort to take on new challenges, build new skills, and expand their horizons. We should never feel “locked into” a career path just because we’ve been at it for several years. Career satisfaction is an important concept to strive for, and if you’re experiencing professional fatigue, malaise, or burnout on the job, it may be a sign that you might want a change.

The prospect of a major career change or overhaul can be a scary one, but here’s some good news for nurses who may be dealing with this—nurses often have a wealth of valuable, transferable skills that they could use effectively in a variety of professional settings and scenarios.

Nurses build a wide array of key skills during their tenures that they can use to their advantage in other professional roles. They are typically adept at problem-solving, planning, and organization in a variety of high-pressure situations. They build and routinely demonstrate critical management and leadership skills, and are usually quite effective at time management. In addition, the nature of their work helps them build key people skills—it’s no surprise to learn that nurses possess excellent communication and teamwork abilities, and also demonstrate empathy towards others. What’s more, the unpredictable nature of nursing helps nurses become adaptable and flexible in all sorts of situations. All of these skills are useful in careers across industries and fields—whether in nursing or beyond healthcare. Many nurses also choose to obtain an advanced nursing degree, which allows them to pursue other career opportunities beyond nursing but within healthcare. Areas of specialization include nurse anesthetists, nurse attorneys, nurse researchers, and nurse midwives.

Here’s the bottom line—if you’re a nurse who’s considering a career change, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. You’re likely equipped with a wealth of valuable experience and transferable skills that will serve you well in whatever career path you choose to pursue. Good luck!

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About the author

Sheryl Posnick

Sheryl Posnick is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founder and president of Red Letter Content, an editorial company with a focus on educational, test preparation, and career readiness materials.

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