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Time to Move On?

Tips for weighing your career options.

The Randstad Engagement Index supports what many believe, i.e., that the job market will pick up in 2012. About 52 percent of respondents indicated they believe this to be true.

That sounds like good news.

But, closely tied to these results are results that may be somewhat troubling for healthcare employers.

For example, the index indicates that 44 percent of healthcare employees are planning to explore other job options when the market does improve; and 42 percent would accept an offer from another company or give a lot of consideration to a job offer in a different company or organization.

Perhaps because healthcare seems to be a perpetually good industry for job seekers, more healthcare workers than in other industries (43 percent) believe it would take 1 month or less to find a new job if they lost their job in the near future.

"I think it's a great time to get a position that you really love because I think the economy is loosening up," says Marty Witrak, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing at St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN.

But, just because you can find a new job, doesn't mean that you should take it. We all know the grass often looks greener on the other side of the fence; the reality of what's on the other side, though, may be less than satisfying.

As the economy begins to show slight signs of improvement, many employees - including nurses - are considering whether it's time to make a career move.

But, some who have find that they regret moving on.

How should nurses evaluate their options and make sound decisions about leaving an employer for potentially greener pastures?

The feeling the grass is greener may not be an accurate reflection of reality, noted Jeff Eisses, vice president of sales for HEALTHeCAREERS in Centennial, CO.

"A number of nurses are to the point where they've had to work harder than they've ever had to at their current company and they may feel the grass is greener on the other side with another organization," said Eisses. But, he adds, what they don't realize is that the situation has been the same at all organizations - everyone has been asked to do more with less.

"People are moving, but they're not really being as gratified with what they thought the landscape looked like on the other side," he says.

It pays to be thoughtful about making a shift, obviously.

Time to Move?

Jennifer Cannon, MSN, RN, is the senior director of the nursing program director for Medtech College, with campuses in six states and the District of Columbia. Cannon cautions nurses from being too hasty to make a move, particularly early in their careers.

Most critically, she says, nurses need to be well-grounded in clinical care experience, even if they eventually move into other roles.

"You really need to have that foundation of clinical nursing," she says. For those who are not feeling bedside nursing is for them, Cannon suggests trying another department or unit before moving away from bedside care entirely. "Build a solid clinical foundation - give yourself 3-5 years to really get proficient," she advisef.

Shambra Speckmiear is a recruitment manager with Randstad Healthcare, formerly ClinicalOne, in Woburn, MA. "The biggest thing you need to do is identify your priorities and what your biggest pain point is," suggests Speckmiear. Doing this effectively requires some critical, and honest, self-assessment.

Scott Rozman is a certified career coach based in the New York City area. He offers the following suggestions for nurses considering a career or job change:

  • Get clear about what it is you like most about your current job or employer, and what you like least.
  • Explore options in other departments or organizations by speaking with people who work there.
  • Consider whether, more often than not, you find yourself complaining about your job. If so, it's time to start looking for a change.
  • Think about working with a career coach to help identify what may be going on at a deeper level regarding where you are currently and what other potential opportunities may be appropriate for you.

The good news, says Speckmiear, is that nurses have multiple options. "The industry is obviously growing and changing and there are new opportunities being developed, as we speak, in light of healthcare reform." The key, she says, is identifying what is important to them in terms of personal and professional objectives as they explore alternative career options.

Do you want to move from a clinical role into a leadership role? Do you want to move out of a leadership role back into a clinical role? Do you want to explore a different clinical specialty? Or, are you interested in an entirely different type of career - perhaps as a technology professional working with EMR implementation or as an entrepreneur?

"The beauty of nursing is that there are so many specialties and opportunities for you to be able to transfer your skill set into without having to make a complete 180-degree change," says Speckmiear.

But no change comes without a certain amount of risk and effort. Nurses need to consider now how to prepare themselves for potential future roles.

Positioning Yourself for the Next Move

Tricia Pattee, director of product management for HEALTHeCAREERS, pointed out that newer, more stringent requirements for many nurses may be driving some of them back to school to pursue higher level degrees.

"What we've been seeing in our research both industry-wide and based on the volume of job postings in certain areas on our job board is that facilities are looking for more experienced nurses," says Pattee. "A lot of hospitals are now requiring a bachelor of nursing degree versus just licensure or an associate degree," she says. This may be the time to boost their credentials in anticipation of a desired shift in career.

Witrak agreed. "I think there is a widespread recognition out of the IOM report on the future of nursing that a baccalaureate degree really increases skills and abilities," she says. She notes that advanced practice roles for nurses are also catching on significantly. Some of the topic areas she feels will be "economic sure things" for nurses are geriatric healthcare, behavioral health, and healthcare information technology or informatics.

For those not seeking additional formal education through a degree program, Cannon notes that "certificates are an easy and quick way for nurses who want to move," she said. In addition, she said, "Many hospitals now will also contribute to their education."

Regardless of the approach they take, Witrak encouraged nurses to think long-term - not just what may interest them today, but how they can build their knowledge, skills and abilities in support of a longer-range goal.

Finally, she says, "I would just encourage people to experiment and not to be afraid to try something. Doors open and doors close and I think many of us who find ourselves in satisfying careers would have never thought that this was a career we would have when starting out!

"When things come your way, be brave."

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.

At Work Archives
  Last Post: August 21, 2012 | View Comments(3)

I too am seasoned-40th yr-age 64.I lost my job after 33 yrs @ same place.Discrimination? You Betcha.Prove it??Government EEOC no help.Have been looking for 5m.Struggling.Bad time age to be w/o work.Plus it is my profession.I am good/passionate.

Marti Mueller,  RN BSN,  HospitalAugust 21, 2012
Denver, CO

Well said, Kenneth. It's very apparent when on the unit, that the majority of nurses are young. Unfortunately, the older ones with more experience, should be in demand since patient care is a skill that evolves with time. Many of the younger nurses don't seem to have the same work ethic, and are more interested in texting and surfing the web when they have any free time.

Betty  Holden August 11, 2012

For older, male nurses, such as myself, if we are out of work, our careers are over. Our education and skills are worthless because no one will hire us. I have been desperately seeking work for nearly two years and have not been able to even find volunteer work. Employers prefer younger workers even if they have no experience.

The nursing shortage is make believe, promoted by schools and businesses that get much of their revenue from advertising by those schools. Click on"job search" sites and you will likely get only,
"invest in your future go back to school" ads.

Kenneth NechitiloAugust 08, 2012


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