Throughout my many years as a nurse I have worked in various types of settings. From medical/surgical, to emergency room, to intensive care unit, to home care, to management, to aesthetic medicine, as well as many years as what is called an “industry nurse” delivering educational messages to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians on behalf of pharmaceutical companies.
Doing some research, a 2016 statistic reports that there were 3.2 million professionally active registered nurses (RNs) in the United States. Additionally, RNs make up the highest percentage of the healthcare workforce in the United States.
When asked to rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in various professions, Americans ranked nurses as the most trustworthy. In 1970, men accounted for only 2.7 percent of registered nurses in the US. As of the most recent census, male RNs make up nearly 10 percent of the nursing workforce. Interesting numbers, right?
Throughout my experience I have often wondered what is holding this profession back from the presence that other types of professions may have. Well, my first thought is complacency.
I have seen numerous seasoned nurses remain in a job on a unit because they have 20 years of service and are at the top of the seniority chain. In this position, they get first pick at time off and holidays, but I have also noticed many of them are professionally miserable.
Some of my clients that are nurses experience this and I often ask them “Is some extra vacation time and first pick of a schedule really worth the sacrifice of your own professional fulfillment?”
One of the good things about nursing is that there are opportunities galore. Outside of your typical outpatient and hospital positions, exist many types of jobs one would not even imagine are out there. This is how I stumbled into industry nursing.
I researched some additional statistics:
18% OF HOSPITAL NURSES EXPERIENCE DEPRESSION
ONE-THIRD OF NURSES EXPERIENCE BURNOUT
HALF OF REGISTERED NURSES CONSIDER LEAVING THE PROFESSION
We entered this profession for a reason, and that may be different for everybody. For some nurses, a job is just a paycheck and a means to an end, and so they put little effort or consideration into careers. Chances are if you are reading this blog, that is not the case.
So, to my nurse readers I propose a challenge to you- pay attention to what behavior patterns you might notice in the profession. Do you witness nurse bullying, a recurring theme that gave the profession the infamous quote of how “nurses eat their young?”
Do you see high burnout and staff turnovers? Do you feel like hospital administration does not support you? For my advanced practice nurses, do you live in a state where your autonomy is undermined?
Many of these situations plague the nursing profession. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A career in nursing comes with a lot of stress, especially at the start, but it does not have stay there. You can be empowered to follow your inspiration and obtain the professional fulfillment and impact you ultimately seek.
Do not fall victim to complacency, there are much more opportunities out there for all of us. If you have any trouble advancing in your career or do not know what to do next, reach out to me and let’s work together. Together we can collectively develop a career plan that will help you meet your goals and live the life you like.