When a nurse needs a career change, the reasons can be myriad and multifaceted. However, when we only reach for the money or career “advancement,” we may miss a golden opportunity for a different kind of personal and professional blossoming to take place.
We nurses change the course of our careers based on many factors, one of which may be We, nurses, change the course of our careers based on many factors, one of which may be money or advancement. This is all well and good, but based on my beliefs about the soul work of evolving as a nurse and a human being, money and career development are only parts of a much more intricate puzzle.
The soul work of nursing is that which lies deep within you — it’s the desire to serve, to give back, to contribute, to tend to others. Sometimes that soul work trumps salary and recognition. It just does. And sometimes that just has to be okay for a time.
What Calls You?
Sometimes, a move from one form of nursing to another may feel like a lateral move rather than a vertical one, but there are times when lateral moves make sense due to a calling that runs deeper than the call of your bank account.
It’s often said that nursing is more of a “calling” than a profession, and this may very well be true for many of us. And what “calls” us from one form of nursing to another may be the work we need to do on a deeper soul level, the level at which we fulfill our larger life’s mission.
You may have been working with adults for years but feel that spending time with children is now essential for your personal development. You don’t understand it and want to question it, but the magnetic pull toward this new aspect of your life as a nurse has more power than you realize and is simply undeniable. And if you honor that magnetism, you never know what gifts may lay in store for you down that as-yet-unknown path.
Or maybe you’re not feeling “right” anymore in your current position. You don’t necessarily feel burned out, but it doesn’t feel like it used to. Then, suddenly, a new position makes itself known, but you realize that it will amount to a cut in pay. Do you honor your desire and take the pay cut in anticipation of the gold that may be waiting within this new opportunity? Or do you turn your back simply because of the money?
Your life circumstances may allow you to absorb the financial hit and explore this new career option. But it’s worth exploring how you feel in your gut and heart and considering your options.
Multiple Bottom Lines for a Career Change
Of course, if you have a family, children, or other dependents, your financial bottom line must sometimes take precedence over your desires. However, we can also flip that statement around and see that there are many bottom lines: spiritual, physical, psychic, financial, mental, and emotional.
A few more dollars per hour may make a difference for you and your family, which may be true on a certain level. But what about your spiritual health and mental health? What “tax” will you pay for that slight pay increase? What will the toll be, and will you be able to pay it day after day? Look at a career change from a multifaceted perspective, and the decision may become more clear.
Weighing Your Options, Caring For Your Soul
Reality — especially financial reality — can feel weighty when making career decisions. And let’s acknowledge that there are other realities as well, and sometimes those realities (like the psychoemotional or spiritual) also need to be honored, weighed, and figured into the equation. We must also remember that when we think there are only two paths to choose, there are more often than not more choices than we immediately perceive.
So, if a career change is in your sights, examine it closely, weigh it all, do the math, and allow your heart, gut, and mind to guide you. Allowing only one of those important aspects of yourself to steer the entire ship without heeding the wisdom of the others may not yield the results you deserve.
Career change is exciting and sometimes scary. Use all of your faculties to plot a path, and make a choice that works for your soul, career, family, and who you truly want to be as a nurse.
Minority Nurse is thrilled to welcome Keith Carlson, “Nurse Keith,” a well-known nurse career coach and podcaster of The Nurse Keith Show as a guest columnist. Check back every other Thursday for Keith’s column.