nurse climbing stairsLooking for a nursing career alternative can be a daunting experience. What’s one of the first things that we do as nurses when we want to make a job change? You got it: think we need more education.

And while I’m all about continuing education for nurses (I myself have lots of degrees; I’ve become certified in non-nursing modalities; I offer CNEs at my Nurse’s Week virtual conference), I want to offer a post of caution on constantly advancing your nursing career the educational way.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the college drop-outs who’ve made billions: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ralph Lauren, and Mark Zuckerberg (to name a few). The rebuttal that may surface here: ‘Sure, none of them are nurses.’ OK, I hear you. I see that… AND let me ask you this: is there a nurse out there who is a billionaire?

Maybe making billions isn’t on your bucket-list. And while having lots of money would be nice, many of us nurses simply want to help people. That’s why we went into nursing in the first place, right? In addition to these altruistic reasons for our career choices, I’d also wager that most -if not all- of us also want to be happy and enjoy our nursing careers.

That being said… 

  1. What do I desire? Many of us go back to school because we see other people doing it. Or it’s the next logical step in our career progression. I know that’s why I went back to receive my MSN/MBA. I figured I had been out of school long enough and it was the next ‘right’ thing to do (not a reason to go back to school, by the way). Take out a blank sheet of paper and ask yourself: what is it I want to do with my life? What would my ‘dream job’ be? Write down what your ideal nursing career would look, feel and be like. Hold nothing back: this is the ideal vision of your best self.
  2. Where am I now? Take honest stock of  your current career situation. Do you love it? What skills, knowledge or abilities do you need? How far (really, be honest here), how far are you from your ideal nursing career that you wrote about in question one above. The first step to any forward change, to reaching any desired goal, is an honest and thorough assessment of your current reality. This will help inform you what you need to do to start taking the necessary and correct steps forward.
  3. How can I reach my goal? You’ve painted a clear picture of where you’d like to be. You’re honest with yourself on where you are now. You can visually see the gap between the two. Now that you have this clarity you can ask yourself, what is it I truly need to move myself forward towards my goals? If you hear the answer ‘more nursing education’ inside of yourself, then go for it. If not, it’s time to figure out what guidance, support or training you do actually need to reach your career goals.

Let’s hear from you. What did we miss? What questions do you ask yourself when making career decisions? How do you decide if continuing your nursing education is the next logical step for you? Leave a comment below, and thank you for reading. Enjoy the day!

(This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at The Days When I’m Not A Nurse. Find out how to participate.)


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Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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