One of the best aspects of the nursing profession is the variety of choices we have. When you think about it, we can work just about anywhere: hospitals, camps, industry, offices, cruise ships, schools, and the home-wherever people need the knowledge base that belongs uniquely to nurses. And if we have a special interest, we can choose to subspecialize in more targeted areas such as pediatrics, emergency care, women's health, geriatrics, rehabilitation, or oncology, to name a few. We even have the choice to veer off the well-trodden clinical path and develop skills in education, leadership, research, writing, information technology, product development, or sales and marketing. For those who desire an expanded scope of clinical practice or opportunities that come only with higher education, myriad programs and courses are suited to both our needs and our tastes. The possibilities seem endless. We have only to look.
We don't ever need to feel stuck in a place that we've outgrown or one that makes us long for something different-whether that place is within ourselves or in a particular job or role. As nurses, we're in the enviable position of being able to re-create ourselves as our lives, tastes, and needs change. That might mean developing a new skill set or becoming an expert in some aspect of a present role, moving into a completely new role, or changing an employment venue altogether-or even acquiring valuable experience through involvement in activities outside of a primary job role, such as with volunteer or committee work for a professional organization or a noble cause.
There's risk-yes. Change is daunting. It means moving out of a personal comfort zone-whether or not we're truly happy there. It means feeling like starting all over after we've attained a hard-won place-and giving up, for a time, the self-assuredness that comes only from experience. It may even mean that we have to put aside ego and rely on the kindness and competence of mentors to help us grow in the right direction. But all of the experiences we have both as nurses and in life make us who we are. This tapestry builds our character and prepares us to take on new and greater challenges.
Are you looking to make a change now or the future? If so, do some soul searching. Consider your interests and your passions. Can you combine them in some way that ultimately leads to the nursing role of your dreams? Investigate the options. Be creative-then devise a plan for professional development and career advancement. Take that first step and then the next. Soon, you'll be well on your journey, however long it takes. And whenever you feel doubt or need inspiration, keep these words in mind: A ship in the harbor is safe-but that is not what ships are for (author unknown).
Linda Laskowski-Jones, RN, MS, ACNS-BC, CCRN, CEN
Vice President, Emergency, Trauma and Aeromedical Services
Christiana Care Health System