Top Skills Needed For Effective Nurse Managers

Top Skills Needed For Effective Nurse Managers

Nurse managers are the glue that keeps the nursing unit operating smoothly, effectively, and as professionally as possible. 

They must have strong communication skills, and know-how to assemble a well-balanced and positive team of staff.   Managing a team of nurses can be a challenge, and having strong leadership skills is a must.

Some of the tasks that nurse managers have on a day to day basis include:

hiring new nurses, handling nurse retention, managing a unit budget, making sure the unit complies with optimum nursing standards and practices, stepping up to help nurses with difficult situations, and even talking to families of patients when needed.

These positions are, of course, highly sought after, and with good reason. It’s an industry that’s expected to bloom in the coming years; the position is generally compensated well.   This is one reason why nurse managers can look for work all over the country.

If you would like to know more about the skills that are required for effective nurse managers, then take a look at the infographic below.


Infographic Design By: Bradley University Bradley University

Here’s Why You Should Consider A Career In Nursing

Here’s Why You Should Consider A Career In Nursing

Nurses are in demand more than ever.   So if you’re looking to change careers, here’s why you should consider a career in nursing.

Right now, there are over 4 million nurses in the US. However, due to the current healthcare environment and the fact that people are living longer lifespans, more nurses are still needed. The number of nurse jobs are expected to explode in the next decade, with some statistics showing that over 400,000 new nurses will be needed by 2024!

The dynamic growth of the nursing profession

One of the reasons for the nursing care demand is that both the general population and the nurse population are aging.  Therefore, we need a lot of newer nurses to care for patients.  Nurse Educators and Nurse Administrators are two of the most in-demand careers at this time.

More information about nursing education and salaries

At the moment (as you can see in the below infographic),  the cost of getting a master’s degree in nursing can range from $20,000 to over $60,000 depending on the school and the field chosen.   However, many nurses are making a great living with the salaries they earn after graduation. 

According to the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics, these are average nurse salaries in the US.

  • RNs $69,110
  • Nurse Educators $73,150
  • Nurse Administrators $94,500

For more information on the dynamic growth of the nursing profession, take a look at the infographic below.


Infographic Design By Norwich University

What Is A Nurse Technician? (& How It Can Help Your Nursing Career)

What Is A Nurse Technician? (& How It Can Help Your Nursing Career)

A nurse technician is another name for a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) or a nurse’s aide.  Nurse technicians are healthcare professionals who provide hands-on healthcare to patients in medical settings under the supervision of a registered nurse.  Some of the activities that nurse technicians help patients with include bathing, dressing, and any other necessary activities of daily living.

According to the Serous Of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for nurse technicians was $28,540, or $13.72 an hour in May 2018.

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Requirements

Educational requirements to become a nurse tech include training programs, passing examinations, and receiving criminal background clearance. Individuals can get certified as young as age 16.

When becoming a nurse technician, individuals are required to have obtained a high school diploma or GED, plus nursing assistant training. You can find nurse technician programs these programs at community colleges, trade schools, and some medical facilities.  (Some university hospitals will even allow nursing students to work as nurse technicians as long as they have completed a specific portion of their nursing program).

Upon successful completion of nurse technician training, individuals will subsequently be required to pass a Certified Nursing Assistant certification examination.   There is a written exam, which usually consists of multiple-choice questions as well as a clinical review, which requires the student to complete clinical skills to demonstrate their competencies.

Job duties of a nurse technician:

Roles and responsibilities can include the following:

  • Bathing patients
  • Turning or repositioning patients
  • Preparing rooms for admissions
  • Cleaning rooms and changing bed sheets
  • Taking patients’ vital signs
  • Following up when a patient uses the call button
  • Stocking supplies
  • Feeding patients, measuring and charting food and liquid intake
  • Combing hair, shaving, caring for nails and brushing teeth

How being a nurse technician as a nursing student can help kickstart a nursing career:

Becoming a nurse technician or CNA can be very beneficial to nursing students who want to gain knowledge from other experienced nurses in the hospital setting.  You’ll get the chance to work alongside nurses in a variety of healthcare settings and learn invaluable experiences along the way.

I became a nurse technician while I was in nursing school, and it gave me an edge in many ways, such as:

  • I was able to earn a little extra money while I was going to school.  BSN programs are becoming more expensive every year, and working as a nurse technician offered me a way to help pay down my student loans before graduation.
  • Working with experienced RN’s gave me hands-on experience that helped me earn higher grades, especially in my skills training.
  • I confirmed my passion for nursing and the healthcare profession.  Helping people with primary care and completing everyday activities of daily living gave me a sense of pride that what I was doing was important work.
  • Most importantly, being a nurse technician helped me get my first post-nursing-school job as a neuroscience and stroke RN at a major teaching institution in Los Angeles.  The experience served as an on-the-job interview for me, and I was able to secure an RN position at the same hospital that I worked as a nurse tech.

Additional recommended reading:

8 Jobs For Nurses Who Don’t Want To Be Nurses Anymore

8 Jobs For Nurses Who Don’t Want To Be Nurses Anymore

(This post may contain affiliate links.   Read our disclosure page for more information.)

Once a nurse, always a nurse.  But what if you have come to the conclusion that you don’t actually want to work as a nurse anymore?

Even though you don’t want to practice nursing at the bedside anymore, it doesn’t mean that you lose the RN title after your name.

After all, you struggled through nursing school.  You worked your tail off as a new grad to learn challenging nursing skills along-side your peers.

In fact, you may have already spent many years in the profession, working on several different units, while adding new specialties and certifications to your resume along the way.

Most importantly, you have helped humankind and even saved lives.

But now you are starting to feel it’s time to move on.  And it really shouldn’t be a surprise  – nurses are burning out at a rate unparalleled to any other profession.

coll career alternatives for nurses

For me, it started after having my own children and realizing that I wanted more flexibility in my life that a traditional nursing career can’t offer me at this time.  In fact, I speak with mothers all the time who are looking for alternative ways to practice nursing so that they can be more present for their children at home…  and finally stop working 12 hour shifts!

My point is that you will always be an RN.   And the best part of being a nurse: your skills are highly transferable.  There are many different ways to practice nursing…   What will your next nursing pathway be?

I don’t want to be a nurse anymore…   What else can I do?

There was one aspect of the nursing profession that really appealed to me when I was considering becoming a nurse as a second career: flexibility.  There are so many pathways that nurses can take outside of the hospital setting.  Now it’s time to take those critical thinking skills and apply them in a new direction!

After all, nurses are lifelong learners by nature.  Taking on a new job away from the bedside can be an exciting adventure.  Where will you end up next?  Have you ever considered looking for a way to use your nursing degree working for a corporation, or as a nurse entrepreneur?

If the answer is YES then you may be ready to embark upon a new nursing career journey.  It is time to open up you mind to new nursing jobs away from the bedside.

8 Awesome Nursing Jobs Away From The Bedside

#1.  Medical Device Sales Representative

Sales person shaking hands with doctor

Alternative nurse job #1: medical device salesperson

Medical device sales representatives are sales experts who sell medical equipment to hospitals, surgery centers or physician offices.  Their job is to detail unique features and benefits of their products and work as a liaison between the device company and the client.

Many medical device sales representatives spend time in hospital operating rooms teaching physicians and staff how to use their company’s products.  However, there are also many sales reps who sell products directly to hospital units as well.

If you have an outgoing personality, a bulldog attitude and enjoy meeting hospital and office staff around your city, this may be a great fit for you!  It’s a lot of hard work- but medical device reps often make a high salary to match the stress.

In addition, many medical device companies hire “clinical nurse specialists” to work as educators for specific products.  CNS’s travel to business accounts and do in-services.  That is a great way to get your foot in the door as a medical device sales representative when you have a great clinical background as a nurse.

How to get a job in medical device sales:

  • MedReps
  • Work with a medical device headhunter
  • Network on Linkedin
  • Polish up your resume and upload online to jobs boards

#2.  Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical Sales Professional

Alternative nurse job #2: pharmaceutical sales representative

Pharmaceutical sales is very similar to medical device sales, however, pharmaceutical reps sell drugs, not devices.  (Although their are some companies who have reps that sell both).  Pharma reps provide drug information and product samples to physicians. Also, pharmaceutical reps monitor prescribing patterns of physicians within a specific geographical territory.

Pharma reps go door-to-door and meet physicians who work in specialties that may be interested in prescribing their products.  For example, a drug rep who sells a medication for atrial fibrillation would focus on selling drugs to cardiologists.

To be successful in pharmaceutical sales (much like medical device sales), you need to have a go-get-em’ attitude and an outgoing personality.  There is a lot of talking involved in pharmaceutical sales for things such as educational events, in services, and in-servicing to clients.

How to get a job in pharmaceutical sales:

  • MedReps
  • Work with a pharmaceutical headhunter
  • Network on Linkedin
  • Polish up your resume and upload online

#3.  Nurse Freelance Writer

freelance writer typing on laptop at home

Alternative nurse jobs #3: nurse freelance writer

Do you enjoy writing?  Nurse freelance writers write about healthcare topics and work on a self-employed basis.  Most nurse freelance writers are independent business owners who manage their work right out of their own homes.

As a freelancer, your clients hire you to write articles and you are generally paid per writing assignment or per a group of writing assignments.  Nurse freelance writers often have clients with recurring projects that they pay for on a per diem basis.

There are many different types of nurse freelance writing, depending on what you want to do, such as:

  • Ghost writer-  write under a client’s name (not your name) for blog posts, eBooks, or webpages.
  • Freelance blogger-  write blog posts for other healthcare bloggers
  • Content writer-  write for various websites and online magazines

How to be a nurse freelance writer:

  • The Savvy Scribe Podcast:  One way to get started as a beginner nurse freelance writer is to learn from other nurses who have made the transition.  Listening in to the Savvy Scribe podcast with Janine Kelback and Carol Bush is a great way to start learning how to be a nurse freelance writer when you already have a busy schedule.

#4.  Nurse Blogger

Jobs for nurses who don't want to be nurses anymore: Nurse blogger

Alternative nurse job #4: nurse blogger

Nurse bloggers generally create and manage a website where they have a specific nursing niche they write about.  For example, I am a nurse mom blogger who writes about working mom & nurse lifestyle topics – things I have directly dealt with myself as a working mother.  Over time you can grow and audience that is interested in the topics you like to write about.

Advertising, affiliate links and creating & selling a products are a few of the ways that bloggers make money.  In general, bloggers have to start their work as a side hustle for many months or years before they start making an income.  It’s more of a long game – you can start it as a side hustle, or work as a per-diem nurse until you get things moving along.

How to be a nurse blogger:

Health Media Academy:  Health Media Academy is a company managed by two very experienced nurse influencers:  Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber.  They help nurse harness the power of social media, blogging, and other methods of online influence to create an audience of your own as a nurse blogger.

In addition to influencing positive change on the healthcare blogging front, Health Media Academy aims to promote wealth-building strategies and business-focus for healthcare influencers all while maintaining the dignity and integrity of their profession.  Check out their Nurse Blogger 101 course!

#5.  Legal Nurse Consultant

legal nurse consultant at work

Alternative nurse job #5: legal nurse consultant

Legal nurse consulting is a great job for nurses who don’t want to be nurses anymore – but still want to utilize the knowledge they have learned while working in patient care.

Legal nurse consultants analyse and evaluate the facts and testimony in legal cases as it relates to the delivery of nursing and other healthcare services.  Often times, LNC’s  analyse cases involving injuries and other medical legal situations.  These nurse experts must have strong experience and education in the healthcare setting, an act as expert witnesses in legal cases.

LNC’s clinically analyse and evaluate facts and testimony related to the delivery of nursing and other healthcare services and outcomes.  They also analyse and review the nature and cause of injuries in legal cases.

Many LNC’s are entrepreneurs and start their own legal nurse consulting businesses.  Which means you should have a self-starter attitude and be willing to hustle to get your business up and running.

Legal nurse consultants’ responsibilities vary depending on the employer and often include:

  • Attending medical reviews by independent medical exams
  • Testifying in court as an expert witness
  • Reviewing cases to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Preparing chronologies or timelines for medical records
  • Working with lawyers to plan healthcare litigation
  • Drafting legal documents in medical cases under the guidance of an attorney
  • Educating attorneys and paralegals about healthcare issues, and nurses as it relates to legal situations

And although certification isn’t necessarily a requirement for working as a legal nurse consultant, many employers prefer to work with nurses who hold a certification from the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board (ALNCC).

#6.  Lactation Consultant

Mother with newborn baby

Alternative nurse job #6: lactation consultant

If you believe that breastfeeding is an important start to babies life and want to help develop the bond between mothers and babies, then becoming a lactation consultant might be a wonderful next career step for you!  Especially if you have had your own experiences with breastfeeding and want to share both your clinical knowledge and personal experience as a breastfeeding mother.  Breastfeeding can be a highly personal and emotional experience – helping a new baby get a positive start in life could be a very fulfilling and exciting career.

What a lactation consultant does:

  • Helps mom and baby develop a healthy bond
  • Shows mom what a good latch looks like
  • Helps position the baby correctly for feeding
  • Performs weigh checks with the baby to assess sufficient intake
  • Offers emotional support to breastfeeding mothers

Lactation consultants work can work in hospitals, for private businesses, and even for themselves.  They do both  private appointments and classes for larger groups.

#7.  Nurse Health Coach

women working out

Alternative nurse job #7: nurse health coach

Nurse health coaches have the ability to actualize their patient’s healthcare goals outside of the hospital setting by helping them develop the healthiest version of themselves.  By teaching patients how to take optimal care of themselves and holding them accountable, the nurse health coach can inspire clients to achieve even greater results.

Nurse health coaches works with patients to provide guidance and resources to assist their patient in living a more healthy and balanced lifestyle.  In terms of nursing experience, nurse health coaches generally have many years of direct patient care in the hospital setting, and have the desire to have a more direct and positive health impact on their patient’s lives.

Many nurse health coaches are entrepreneurs who work in private practice, although some hospitals and doctors offices hire nurse health coaches as well.  According to some surveys, nurse coaches can earn similar or even more income than they do working in hospitals.

Nurse health coaches help their patients by working with them in the following ways:
  • Understanding their patients’s unique healthcare dynamics
  • Holding patients accountable for their pre-established goals
  • Assessing patients’s readiness for change
  • Identifying client opportunities and issues for improved health
  • Identifying and setting goals to achieve optimal health
  • Empowering patients to reach their goals

In addition, nurse health coaches can decrease healthcare spending by:

  • Helping insurance companies reduce the cost of disease management, and
  • Assisting patients to improve their overall health and well-being by decreasing the incidence of chronic illness and the healthcare costs associated with them

Resources to become a nurse health coach:

#8.  Nurse Recruiter

Nurse on the phone

Alternative nurse jobs #8: nurse recruiter

You don’t need to be a nurse to become a nurse recruiter, however, most employers prefer working with candidates with a nursing background.  In fact, experienced nurses may have more career opportunities in this field than those without prior nursing experience. This is because nurses already understand the qualities needed to be a successful nurse.

Some of the roles of nurse recruiters include: 

  • Marketing- It is the nurse recruiter’s job to find great nurse candidates to hire for the company.  This may include attending professional conferences, designing and implementing media advertising campaigns, attending job fairs, and developing relationships with student work advisers.
  • Interviewing – Screening candidates, setting up interviews and performing telephone interviews
  • Collaborating with departments to fill job vacancies quickly

How to be a nurse recruiter:

  • Apply for entry-level nurse recruiter positions. Employers list job openings through their websites and on Internet job boards. Increase your chances of getting an interview by applying for as many nurse recruiter positions as you can find.

Conclusion

There are other career opportunities out there for nurses who don’t want to be bedside nurses anymore.   The great news is that you have learned valuable career skills both in nursing school and while working as a nurse in patient care.

So, take these critical thinking and time management skills and abundant clinical knowledge that you have gained as a bedside nurse and apply it to a new endeavor.

Good luck!

Additional recommended reading: 

 

alternative nurse careers

How To Prepare For Nursing School: 9 Tips

How To Prepare For Nursing School: 9 Tips

(This post about how to prepare for nursing school may have affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here).  

Written by Deborah Swanson at allheart.com

What is the best way to prepare for nursing school?

Higher education of any kind is a serious commitment, and nursing school is no exception.  Classes are difficult, clinical shifts are long and the environment can be competitive and even cutthroat at times.

So what can you do before nursing school starts to ensure that you get off to a great start?

The truth is that there is so much of nursing school that you will have no control of.  But there is one thing that you can control – and that is to prepare yourself in advance the best you can.

Because not only is preparation the key to succeeding in nursing school, but it also determines how you will succeed in your career as a nurse.

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  – Benjamin Franklin

9 Super Helpful Nursing School Tips

It feels like ages since I graduated from nursing school.  Yet it is as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday.  And it is no exaggeration to say that graduating from nursing school is the most challenging thing I have ever achieved in my life.

In hindsight I realize that was actually a good thing.  Because working on the front line of patient care in today’s healthcare environment is more challenging than ever, and the healthcare industry needs amazing nurses.

It is likely that you already know that not everyone who goes to nursing school will make it through.  But with the right attitude, grit and relentless preparation you can do it!

Here are 9 helpful and actionable tips to help you prepare for nursing school:

#1.  Organize your life

nurse writing in a calendar

Organization is crucial for success in nursing school- to be successful you need to manage your time relentlessly.

Before nursing school starts, take stock of your life and get things in order.

Inventory your existing school supplies, clear out your closet and deep clean your house—all those chores you always meant to get around to, but never had the time.

You definitely won’t have the time to do these time-consuming tasks during the academic year, and since they don’t need to be done that often, getting them out of the way before you start school is an excellent idea.

As a result you’ll feel much more centered so you can focus your energy where you need it most – on your school work.

 

#2.  Create your schedule for the semester

Once you’ve enrolled in classes and finalized your schedule, input everything into a master calendar: class times, exams, assignment due dates, clinicals, whatever is relevant. Then add in everything from your non-nursing school life, such as doctor’s appointments and family commitments.

Many nursing school students swear by paper planners, but a digital calendar on your phone or computer makes it really easy to update events if the dates change around (no messy crossing out necessary!).

Get into the habit of adding things to your calendar as soon as they come up so you never forget a deadline.

 

#3.  Buy all your nursing school supplies

The most important nurse supplies you need as a nurse

Click to read more about some of the most important nurse supplies you need.

Your school should provide a list of everything you need for your classes.

Of course, you’ll need school supplies such as textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes and more.

However, you’ll also need a whole host of nursing-specific supplies, including scrubs, nursing shoes, a stethoscope, a watch, a lanyard or badge clip and various clinical supplies.

Take yourself shopping before the first day of school, and if you’re buying online, give yourself plenty of lead time for shipping so the items will arrive before classes start.

#4.  Follow nursing forums and blogs

While your mileage may vary depending on the quality of the writers, nursing forums and blogs are a great way to get your questions answered by more experienced nurses.  It may also give you a peek behind the scenes of real nursing work.  (For example, you are reading information from a nursing blog right now at www.mothernurselove.com!)

As podcasts have taken off, audio content has also become another great resource for nursing students.  Here are a few quality podcast resources out there for the aspiring nurse:

The Fresh RN podcast is hosted by experienced nurses from FreshRN.com who discuss the basics of that first year of nursing school. They discuss everything from (but not limited to) orientation, tricks of the trade, personal nursing experiences, time management, delegation, and even dealing with patient deaths.

  • Your Next Shift, with Elizabeth Scala, a podcast for nursing career stories and career techniques

The Your Next Shift podcast is great for helping you think outside of the nursing box!  There are so many ways that nurses can practice nursing.   Elizabeth has interviewed hundreds of nurses creating new career paths for themselves.  Her weekly episodes present listeners with “mindset shifts to be themselves and career techniques to do their best.”   It is also great inspiration for nursing students!

#5.  Connect with fellow classmates

nursing school students

Nurses should connect with other nurses to find additional support through the challenges of nursing school.

Your nursing school classmates will be in the trenches with you and understand exactly what you’re going through, which is why forging relationships with them is so important.

Most schools will host various social events during orientation, so make an effort to attend as many of them as possible. If you feel a connection with someone, don’t be afraid to make the first friendship move and ask them to get coffee or study together.

As the semester goes on, study groups will become invaluable to both your social life and your homework success, so join one or start it yourself.

 

#6.  Find a mentor

“Nurses eat their young” is a saying for a reason, and this mentality is what makes having a supportive mentor so much more important.

Ideally, you’ll have at least one mentor who is a much more experienced nurse and works in the specialty you want to pursue.

It can also be hugely beneficial to find a second mentor, this one a nursing school student who’s a year or two ahead of you. They can advise you on classes, faculty and all things school-related and give you inside tips on how to succeed.

 

#7.  Aim for the best…

smiling nurse

Prepare for the best as a nurse by setting goals!

Of course, you want to do well in school, but setting specific goals and documenting them will go a long way towards helping you succeed.

Figure out what doing your best looks like for you. This could be getting an A- or above in all your classes, doing some extra shadowing or taking advantage of every extra credit opportunity.

Then, break down each of your goals into specific concrete steps that you can complete one at a time to attain your goal.

#8.  …but prepare for the worst

That being said, life happens, and nursing school is hard.

While you can and should set big goals for yourself, be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall short. Getting a poor grade in a class—or even failing it—isn’t the end of the world or your journey to becoming a nurse.

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with the support and resources that you need.

 

#9.  Make time for yourself

You’ll get overwhelmed really quickly if your life is all nursing school and no play.

Remember that master calendar you created? Now go back and schedule in some you time throughout the year. Read a book, take a hot bath, get a massage, do something for yourself that’s not work-related.

While many people recharge through being alone, don’t forget to schedule some social time as well, and keep nurturing your relationships outside of nursing school. Your non-nursing school friends might not understand exactly what you’re going through, but they will provide a much-needed reality check when you’re in the trenches.

In conclusion

Nursing school is an exciting but stressful time in any aspiring nurse’s life. Thankfully, being prepared can make everything go more smoothly.  We hope that these tips help prepare you for nursing school and move you towards a rewarding career as an RN.

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About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com – a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys.  She keeps busy by interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening.

Additional recommended reading:

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list below!

how to prepare for nursing school

My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

I recently wrote an article about my #1 biggest nursing career fear.

It was a hard post to write, to say the least.  It brought up a lot of emotions for me, but also helped clarify new career goals that I needed to set for myself.

At first glance it may seem to some that I did that to torture myself.  But there was a method to my madness.

I recently began a comprehensive writing and website development course that will take me at least 12 months to complete.  And one of my first assignments was to write about a major fear that I have that pertains to my current writing niche.

As a nurse mom blogger who writes about finding ways to help nurses take better care of themselves, I really put a lot of thought into this.  And I have come to the conclusion that one of the ways I want to take better care of myself is to NOT work as a floor nurse for my entire career.

Unfortunately, the wear-and-tear is starting to break me down.  I am afraid that what was once a cerebral challenge is starting to turn into full-fledged irreparable nurse burnout.

Never let feat decide your fu

Never let your fear decide your future:  my 2021 nursing career fear mantra

As a nurse blogger who frequently blogs specifically about the topic of nurse burnout, I have worked very hard to find solutions for my own exhaustion.

In fact, my #1 reason for starting a website was to create an outlet for my own overwhelm and fatigue as a nurse and new mom.

Over the last two years I have spent nearly every minute of my free time researching and exploring possible solutions for these struggles.  Then I write it all out clearly as I can with the hope that I am able to help myself and (hopefully) other nurse moms in my position.

And voila, it works!  For a while anyway.

But, sadly, I eventually find myself feeling burned out again.

So, in the spirit of continuing the blogging assignment I mentioned earlier, I am going to dive in and open up about all of my fears about my nursing career.

It saddens me to think that I may not be a direct patient care nurse for much longer.  The healthcare system needs great nurses. But I will always be a nurse, and as I like to say, a nursing practice can take many forms.

My biggest fears as a bedside nurse:

#1.  I fear physical injuries from years of nursing.

nurse neck injury

Nursing career fear #1:  physical injuries on the job

There is alarming evidence now that even proper lifting techniques expose nurses’s spines to dangerous forces.

In addition, chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%.

Many non-nursing professionals may be alarmed to hear that after only 7 years as a bedside nurse I am already feeling the wear-and-tear of being on my feet all day.  I already have chronic back pain.  My legs and feet ache for days after a 12 hour shift.

I do a lot of yoga as a preventative measure and it helps tremendously.  But as soon as I have another busy shift with a heavy patient load, the pain returns.  Especially, when I work with total-care patients.

#2.  I fear a life of burnout and constant exhaustion.

Nurse tired sitting in hospital hallway

Nursing career fear #2:  years of chronic exhaustion

I have written many times about my own exhaustion as a nurse and have even come up with several solutions to beat my own nurse burnout (at least temporarily).  But if I’m being honest, the only way I really even recover from burnout is to just not work at all.  It is amazing how much better l feel after stepping away from bedside nursing for a week.

Admittedly, I have created a few of my own unhealthy habits to cope with my nursing career.  Which is why one of my goals this year is to start taking simple steps to help keep my stress in check so that I don’t end up becoming a patient myself.

I realize now more than ever that, in order to care for others, I must to take care of myself first.   And the only proven way I have been able to do that thus far is to step away from the bedside and practice nursing in a different realm.

#3.  I fear verbal abuse and violence.

Stop violence against nurses

Nursing career fear #3: violence against nurses in the workplace

Abuse against nurses is very common.  In fact, nurses are expected to put up with levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting.  I have been cussed at more times than I can count, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job.  And guess what?  Not one single abusive patient or family member as EVER been asked to leave the hospital.  Sadly, it appears that nurse abuse is acceptable and that nurses must deal with it as a part of the job.

Here is a recent example:  I had a patient verbally assault me in the most vile way possible when I brought them their scheduled life-saving anti-rejection medicines.  I explained that I was there to help them and calmly asked the patient several times to stop using vulgar language at me.  Finally, I told them I would find them a different nurse and left the room.

Tearfully, I told my charge nurse, who supported me and assigned the patient a different RN.  I found out later that the patient was so offended that I refused to be their nurse that they filed a complaint against me.  I also found out later that their were several other nurses in the days prior who had been putting up with the same exact verbal abuse.

Even worse, violence against nurses is prevalent (especially emergency room nurses) and  it usually isn’t even routinely tracked.  I have been lucky not to find myself the victim of direct physical violence as a nurse as of yet.  Many nurses have not been so not lucky.

#4.  I fear not having more earning potential.

To do list; make more money

Nursing career fear #4: not reaching a higher earning potential

Working for an hourly wage kind of sucks.  I am very driven and I have a great work ethic.  But no matter how hard I work as a nurse, I’m just not going to make any higher (or lower) than my hourly wage.  I could work more hours, but I am already experiencing a lot of nurse burnout and I have a family to take care of as well.

I often think how nice it would be to get paid more for working harder.  And I really want the opportunity to earn a better living.  Especially because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, and it’s only getting more expensive.

#5.  I fear having a terminal position with no growth opportunity.

nursing career growth

Nursing career fear #5: not growing professionally in my career

There are opportunities for nurses who want to move into administrative roles or become nurse practitioners if you are willing to go back to graduate school for a masters degree or PhD in nursing. (When you work in the UC system in California, you MUST have have Masters Degree In Nursing to move into administration.  No exceptions).

However, my bachelors degree in nursing was already my second college degree as I am a second career nurse  (I have a prior BA in journalism).  Not only was going to nursing school in my early 30’s the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life, it was also extraordinarily expensive.  In fact I know nurses graduating with over $100,000 in nursing school loan debt (I don’t have it in me to tell them they will likely never pay it off on a nurse’s salary- at least not in California).

In addition, I have a family now with two toddlers who need me – and I’m already a working mom.  So, I could spend a ton of money going back to school, spend almost no time with my family, have a whole bunch of brand new student loan debt, and have a terrible quality of life for the next 3+ years.

And quite honestly, the idea of being a hospital administrator doesn’t even sound very appealing to me.  Not to mention, many nurse practitioners are making less then bedside nurses.  Thus, I have a hard time seeing the benefit in more school at the moment.

#6.  I fear not putting my own needs first.

Make your dreams bigger then your fears

Nursing career fear #6:  putting my own needs last

In my first career I was a medical device sales person because I wanted the opportunity to make a significant amount of money.  A decade later, I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to help people and save lives.  I wanted to do something that was so much bigger than myself.

I was proud to become a nurse, and I still am.  However, this profession revolves around constantly putting other peoples’s need first.  And it must, because our patients’s lives often depend on it.

But I have a family to care for too. And as a mom of young children I often feel that I am in constant “survival mode.” This leaves very little time for self care.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Thinking about the things I fear most is probably my least favorite thing to do.  In reality, I am a non-confrontational person and it feels unnatural for me to do a deep-dive into the things I am most afraid of.  Especially listing them one-by-one and publishing them on my website!

But, if I can’t be honest with myself about what I feel in my gut when it comes to my nursing career, then how am I supposed to grow and create a better future for myself and my family?

As a busy working mom, I hardly have time to think about myself as it is.  It would be a lot easier to pretend my fears didn’t exist and stay super busy until my kids turn 18 and go off to college.  But making big life changes is hard, even when they are the best thing for you.

Plus, I would be well into my 50’s by then!

And I don’t have time to waste on being afraid!

Do you have any fears as a bedside nurse?  Please leave a comment below!

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