Have you made any adjustments in your career goals or education plans based on the RWJF and IOM Report , The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, released last October?

I have been away from clinical nursing since 2001. I can’t believe that it has been 10 years. I’ve always believed that someday I would go “back to the bedside” and I really do miss taking care of patients. It’s been a little more noticeable to me lately just how much I miss the clinical side of nursing. I’m not sure if it’s because the fact that it’s been 10 years overwhelms me or because I am excited about the direction in which our profession is headed. Perhaps it’s a little of both.

The question that really gets to me is where do I want to be? Critical care was my home for most of my clinical career.  I loved the thrill of caring for acutely ill patients and their families. Titrating vasoactive drugs, assisting with invasive procedures, using the latest technologies - all so cool! Admissions from the ER, “road trips” to diagnostic tests, end-of-life discussions, and the list goes on…

However, my “other list” is quite impressive to me also. As a women’s health NP, it was so fulfilling to be in the community and make a difference educating women about preventive care. Also, contraceptive counseling, prenatal care and teaching, helping someone find some relief from her symptoms of menopause, and so on…. Primary care practitioners have so much to offer and the need is so great.

The very first key message from the IOM report states “Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.” Does this mean that it is my duty to practice as an NP because I have the degree and license? Would I be disregarding this message by returning to staff nursing in the ICU? I sure hope not. Then again, I could always pursue another degree…critical care NP might be the answer. Now there’s something for me to think about!

Perhaps as we prepare for the future of our profession, we should all take this time to look at our individual goals as well. What is your future in nursing?