Most people are familiar with a board of trustees. These are the leaders who advise, guide, direct, and lead businesses large and small while keeping the organizations’ best professional, financial, and strategic goals in mind. Members of a board of trustees are a diverse group with broad expertise; these varied backgrounds allow the group to look at problems or issues through several different lenses.
As a professional nurse, having your own board of trustees is one way to help your personal and professional growth flourish. Your board doesn’t need to sit around in a conference room (or, today, on Zoom), your own group can be informal, and they can actually be a mutually supportive group who has each member’s best interests in mind.
Who will you invite into your board of trustees? Here are a few things to consider.
Those You Admire and Respect
Nurses who hold leadership roles and who perform their work duties in a way you want to emulate are excellent people to have in your corner. Asking for their advice and guidance or just watching how they approach their responsibilities is going to help your career.
Those Who Don’t Know the Industry
Your board of trustees shouldn’t include only those in the medical industry. Professionals in other industries—from banking to teaching to construction—are going to help you. They can offer perspectives of patient personalities and what might be percolating for the general public. They may offer insight into business practices that could help your own work flow be more efficient or could boost the morale of your unit. They can also give you tips on salary negotiation or interviewing.
Those Who Help with Nitty Gritty
Your alma mater can help you with a career search or with a resume review. The neighbor or cousin who can watch your kids while you finish up a grant proposal is worth more than gold. Your colleague who motivates you to exercise or take a break when you‘ve hit a wall is going to watch out for you. These people belong on your board and you belong on theirs. These are all great opportunities for reciprocal relationships—you can help them as much as they help you.
Those You Network With
Colleagues who are active in nursing associations can help you network to find a new professional opportunity. These are the people who can help you pinpoint excellent presentation topics or give you insider information on how to navigate a particular conference. They can guide you to elevate your visibility in the industry.
Those Who Know You Best
An opportunity might look so-so on paper, but your best friend might be the one to point out how it matches your passions and gives you a launching pad. Or a job offer might be weighed by your sister who asks if you’ll be able to move the 1,000 miles required to make it happen and then cheers you on when you figure out how to do exactly that. This is the crew who will tell it like it is and who always have your back.
Having a board of trustees—or really a board of trust—in your corner is a way to ensure you aren’t going it alone. People are often willing to help. It’s important to offer something in return and to understand you also bring value to the relationship.
If you’re hoping to ask for advice about a career switch from a nurse who is in that specialty, make an offer to take them out to lunch. If someone is watching your kids, offer to watch theirs or to pick up some groceries the next time you go to the store. There are many ways we can all support each other. Start building a circle of trusted people and see the impact it has on your well-being and your career.
you agree with the latest trend toward simplicity and reducing the
amount of things you possess, there’s something to be said for the
idea of reassessing.
Marie Kondo’s philosophy of The
the stands, people around the globe took notice. With an eye toward
tidying up and, more importantly, the simple question of “Does this
spark joy?” Kondo has inspired legions to cut back, donate, and
toss everything from clothing to dishes.
the simplicity question also begs a larger examination of the life
you lead, and for nurses, this is especially important. When you
apply Kondo’s question to your career, it might make you stop and
rethink how it is progressing.
a nurse, you likely came to the career because you had a passion for
helping others, for making sure patients were treated respectfully,
and for a meticulous approach to accurate methods. But as a nursing
career progresses, burnout can take a toll on your mental and
physical health as well as your job.
matter what stage of your career you are in, it’s worthwhile to check
in with your hopes, dreams, and expectations every now and then.
Maybe “sparking joy” is a little extravagant when it comes to
career assessment, but it’s not that far off.
put, is what you are doing making you happy?
the answer is yes, that’s great news. It doesn’t mean you are off the
hook, though. If what you are doing is satisfying personally and
professionally, think about what you do that makes it that way. Also
think of ways you can expand your professional goals to include
activities, educational pursuits, or opportunities that will continue
to keep you on the right path. People change and so do careers. If
you know the core reasons you are happy in what you are doing, it’s
worth finding ways to grow from that point.
your answer is more on the negative side, it’s time to take a close
look at the roots of your dissatisfaction. You might find yourself
feeling unhappy in a role that once was perfect for you. But you
might have new colleagues, new standards or expectations, or even a
longer commute. Your shift could be different or you might wish for
more flexibility if your life at home is changed at all. You might
even find your work has become more routine than you like and are
thinking of making a switch.
Kondo’s close examination of the possessions people hold,
scrutinizing your satisfaction with your career might reveal some
tweaks that can make all the difference or it might become perfectly
clear that it’s time for a major career change. Could a new schedule
serve you better? Would you be happier working predictable clinic
hours instead of working on a unit that runs 24/7? Are you thinking
your years of experience are better suited to making changes at an
administrative or policy-making level? Or have you been in an
administrative role and want to get back on the floor?
the time to weigh your options given your basic needs for things like
salary and benefits, patient care options, educational commitments,
and personal lifestyle. Then begin to chart out the steps you need to
take to get back on track.
is a calling for so many, but it’s not perfect. It is, however, a
broad industry, one that offers opportunities for change and growth.
Figuring out how to stay satisfied and nourished in a career you once
felt compelled to become part of can bring you some of that spark you
I have been a nurse for 30 years and have worked in various areas of nursing: Oncology, Gyn-Oncology, Home Health, TeleHealth, Legal Nurse Consulting, Teaching, and Endoscopy. During nursing school and as a new nurse I thought that I could only work in a hospital as a floor nurse or in a nursing home. As I gained experience and began to grow, I found that there were many other areas that needed to be explored. Nursing is a constantly changing field and in order to grow, you must move and spread your wings. You should never stop learning. Nursing is a rewarding career and if you always remember why you became a nurse (other than for the money), it will help the bad days appear better. If you ever get to the point that you feel stagnate, don’t give up, GET MOVING!! Some ways to help you grow is to go back to school and advance your education, change your specialty, and gain new knowledge and experience.
Too many times nurses are quick to give up after a few years in practice, but with anything that you want to perfect it takes time, commitment, and patience. There is no rule that states that you have to stay in a certain area for years. Oftentimes, nurses stay in the same area and they become frustrated and burned out. This can have an untoward effect on the care that is delivered to patients and affects the morale of the nurse and the unit. These are the nurses that are angry and complain, but they are afraid to change. Often these are the same nurses that are selected to be preceptors for new nurses. This is not a healthy environment for the new nurse, because this can cause them to question if they want to stay in the nursing field.
So as nurses, we need to explore other options to work, without giving up on the career we worked so hard for. One positive change that needs to be implemented in nursing school is for instructors to inform students that there are multiple fields available to them. There are several non-traditional areas to choose, such as doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, school clinics, insurance companies, and you can even work with attorneys, where they rely on you for your health care background.
If I had never realized that I could work in other areas, without giving up nursing, I probably would not have been a nurse as long as I have. Even at this point in my career, I am still seeking and searching for new learning opportunities. I want to expand my knowledge and experience, and I would encourage other nurses to remember to spread your wings so that you can grow.
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