Many nurses feel stuck and need help figuring out why. Alright, no worries. I can reassure you that you are not the only nurse feeling this way. Here are some reasons you may feel stuck and how to get out of that rut.

Lack of Career Advancement and Growth

You may not be experiencing growth in your current position. Or you are not getting the opportunities you want due to different circumstances.

The Fix: Keep learning and growing from a personal and professional standpoint. Seek opportunities to learn, go to conferences, return to school, or get certified in your specialty area.

The bottom line:

  1. Continue to increase your skills and knowledge.
  2. Articulate your desire to be promoted and advance in your career.
  3. Make sure you keep all your receipts and be ready to present why you deserve to be promoted.

Sitting in the corner and working hard will not automatically get you promoted. Instead, make yourself visible and highlight your accomplishments. Network with other nurses and other industries. Network in person and on social media and search for different opportunities. If all fails, then you can take your talents somewhere else.

Burnout and Exhaustion

You may not even realize that you are experiencing the negative impact of burnout.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Always feeling tired
  • Dread work
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of sleep or trouble sleeping
  • Feel overworked
  • Feel unappreciated or work has no meaning
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feeling apathetic about helping others

The Fix:

  1. Learn to say no in your personal and professional life.
  2. Ask for help and support from colleagues.
  3. Prioritize self-care activities such as sleep, exercise, rest, and eating healthy. If you take a break and return, still not feeling well, it may be time to find another position.
  4. Seek medical attention for an assessment and speak to a licensed professional regarding mental health concerns.
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Limited Scope of Practice and Not Feeling Challenged 

The Fix: Nurses can feel stuck due to the limitations of their current practice. Recommend taking on a different assignment or project.

Precepting or mentoring can be a great way to reignite your passion and keep you on your toes. Seek out work that is fulfilling and aligned with your purpose and values. Consider going back to school to pursue advanced practice roles such as a nurse practitioner. You may be bored of the same thing day in and day out. Starting your own side business, such as writing, tutoring, or speaking, could add something new and exciting to your career.

Feeling Unappreciated

You may not realize it, but perhaps you feel underpaid, undervalued, and unappreciated.

The Fix:

  1. Join or start a recognition and appreciation committee within your organization.
  2. Ask for feedback from colleagues, patients, families, and the leadership team.
  3. Engage in nursing organizations that promote recognition and support for nurses.

Lack Clarity

You may not know exactly what you want, and that’s ok. However, this uncertainty may lead to you feeling stuck.

The Fix: Take the time to reflect and see what you want to do. Try to be strategic by looking at your end goal and working backward to how you will get there. Create career goals and a list of what is most important in your life this season. Determine what type of life you want to have and create your career around that lifestyle. Define what success means to you. Seek guidance from mentors and career coaches to gain clarity and develop a career advancement and success roadmap. Career coaches like me can help you get crystal clear about your priorities and your next moves.

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Remember:

  • Compare yourself to only yourself
  • Do what you want, and do you
  • Be patient with yourself
  • Invest in yourself
  • Ask for help

Stop overthinking, make a decision, and take action. Part of feeling stuck is all in our heads, and this indecisiveness can lead to anxiety and, obviously, inaction. Nursing is the greatest profession in the world, with so many opportunities. Be comfortable knowing you can always redirect yourself to another path in whatever direction you take. So go ahead and take action. Get unstuck.

Farah Laurent
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