Find a More Inspiring Nursing Position


Find a More Inspiring Nursing Position

Life is too short to feel uninspired at work

By Ellen Downey
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Sometimes jobs just don’t turn out the way we expected. We may find ourselves in a rut of repetition or with the “start of shift blues” — dreading another day. At Working Nurse, we believe life is too short to be unfulfilled professionally. Your nursing skills are in demand in a plethora of different specialties. Take a leap and find a more inspiring position.

Career options — which way to go?
For nurses wishing to find a more inspiring position, there are many ways to go.

• Transition to a new specialty altogether with pertinent training and credentialing.
• Do the same work, but in a different setting. For example, a med/surg nurse could move from a large urban hospital to a rural community hospital.
• Move to a management track. This may require additional education.
• Leave bedside altogether and use nursing skills in a new way, like legal nurse consulting or nurse recruiting.

Analyze your skills and strengths
Focus on what is important and interesting to you. Deliberately analyzing your skill set, strengths, education, interests, income requirements and goals will allow you to make a methodical choice. You will also be able to assess any need for further education or credentialing.

This is an appropriate time to address why you are ready to explore a change and what kind of new work environment would be best for you. A floor nurse in a hospital setting may be physically or emotionally exhausted by the work; a nurse case manager in an insurance company may be very frustrated by Medicare changes and the impact on patients; a nurse involved in education may be fed up with politics and policies; and a nurse working in pharmaceutical clinical trials may be challenged by too much travel.

What are you consistently praised for in performance reviews? Prioritize what is important to you. Make a list of what you enjoy about nursing and what drains your enjoyment. Think about what kind of culture would be a good fit for you. For example, do you like to work in a team or are you happiest when you’re independent? Don’t rule out any goal as too much of a stretch.

Identify potential opportunities
There are several effective ways to identify new opportunities.

Your personal network: Contact people you know who work in the specialty or setting you are considering. Ask for their advice. They may be able to introduce you to a hiring manager or human resources representative at their hospital.

Online Resources: A great online tool is the professional networking site is LinkedIn ( Here you create a professional profile that describes your background and career goals in as much detail as you wish, with different options for other networkers (or anyone trying to identify a potential employee) to reach you. Research professional nurse organizations, sign up for e-newsletters, or see if they offer seminars that may assist you in your job search.

Do a google search of facilities and specialties that interest you. ­Explore company career pages, nursing blogs and nursing associations to educate yourself. The companion website to this magazine is a wealth of information regarding nursing specialties. Do a keyword search in the article archive section on the homepage.

Find an ethical recruiter: If appropriate, work with a recruiter who may know more about your intended field than you do. Ethical recruiters speak with you and understand your background and your goals. They will help you strategize to find appropriate potential positions and companies.

Organize: Keep a spreadsheet or a list of companies and recruiters you have contacted, your follow-up attempts, and the company’s responses­­­­ to you.

Avoid posting your resume on job boards, where anyone who pays a subscription (including your own human resources department) can view your background and contact information. Unethical recruiters can lift your resume, without your knowledge, and present your background to an employer. It is safer to submit your resume to a specific job posting on a company’s career page. That way, you have control over who is seeing your information.

Package yourself
Image counts! Often, the first impression a potential employer has of you is your resume. Create a polished, organized resume that highlights the education, skill sets and accomplishments that make you a good fit for an opportunity. Create a Summary section at the top of your resume (below your contact information) that gives a snapshot of your skills and background. This could be in the form of a table with bulleted phrases such as “Project management,” “Compassionate communicator” or “Committed to being 100 percent error-free.”

Think about concrete accomplishments for previous positions you have held. For each position, include the dates of your employment, name and city/state of the company, your job titles and several bullet points about your responsibilities there. If you held more than one position for the same hospital or facility, start with the most recent position and work your way back, always including the job title and dates you held that position.

Under each job title, include specific accomplishments such as “Reduced patient length of stay by 2.5 days, saving department $8,000 per stay,” “Identified $900,000 in overpayments of medical claims for commercial insurers” or “Implemented Q/A system for identifying patient complaints the after day surgery, reducing complaints by 50 percent.”

Have someone review your resume and give you feedback about the content and appearance.

Making the transition: the interview process
Once a company or recruiter responds to your interest in a position, make it easy for them! Your behavior during the introductory and interview process indicates what kind of employee you will be. You can’t go wrong with being a prompt, clear communicator. Ask for a complete job description or job profile. Do a mock interview with another nurse. Research the different types of interviews you might find yourself in, such as behavioral interviews. Good key words for this type of Internet research would be “interview tips” or “interview questions.”

Obtain as much information as possible about the company and the team who will interview you. Be prepared and informed. If you think the position could be a fit for you, tell your interviewer that you are interested! Bring extra copies of your resume and ask for the business card of each interviewer so you can send a thank-you note via snail mail or email.

A few ideas to consider:
Healthcare: per-diem positions, travel nurse (domestic and international), hospice nurse, nonprofit humanitarian groups
Healthcare administration: nurse manager, case manager
Insurance: utilization review and management, nurse case manager
Education: school nurse, teacher, university-level professor
Research: pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, medical device companies, clinical research organizations (research/project associate, clinical research associate, clinical trial manager, project manager, data manager, medical writer, regulatory positions)
Global security companies that provide physical security services (on-site nurses)

By breaking down your career transition into steps and focusing on each step, you will find an interesting position that will make excellent use of your nursing background and skills.

Professional networking:
Salary information:
Nursing careers and organizations:

Ellen Downey is the owner of Summit Professional Search, Inc., a recruiting firm that focuses on healthcare.

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