Career Development For Nurses

For most people, salary is the primary concern when seeking to make a job change. However, there are a variety of additional considerations which are equally important in ensuring long term job satisfaction. Take some time to review your needs with regard to each of the factors listed below and then devise a strategic plan so that you can focus your job search only on those opportunities most aligned to the needs you have defined.

Your Values:

Carefully assess those aspects of work on which you place the greatest value. For example, do you value a team atmosphere, challenge, significant responsibility, leadership, or autonomy? Different practice areas will have more or less of these qualities so it behooves you to do some research so that you can focus your job search on those opportunities most closely aligned to your value assessment.


Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions one can be a part of. Nurses are vital members of the health care team and responsible for making quick decisions in often highly time-sensitive environments. Unfortunately, the constant exposure to these stressful conditions often leads to nurse burn-out and retire from the profession. This combined with the low enrollment of new students in nursing programs country-wide has led to the nursing shortage currently affecting every facet of the health care delivery system.

There are certain practice areas where the stress levels are significantly reduced although one may need to accept certain concessions. For example, if you are an ER nurse accustomed to having much autonomy and responsibility and decide you wish to move into a group practice you might lose some decision-making authority, along with independence and autonomy. Review your values and decide if these trade-offs are something you can be comfortable with over the longer term.

Spend some time doing research in a variety of practice areas and arrange to speak with colleagues in these specialties to obtain their feedback with regard to both the pros and cons of their work..

Work Environment:

Perhaps yours is not an issue of burn out but you simply seek to work in a different type of facility. If you are hospital-based, perhaps you now seek to work in a private medical office or community clinic. Again, research is important to fully understand the duties and responsibilities of nurses in each type of facility. You will also want to consider that compensation ranges will differ in each type of setting. Finally, learn about the particular cultures in different settings and make sure they align to your work values. For example, if one of your higher values is to be in a team-oriented environment, consider joining a group or multispecialty practice. However, if you seek a leadership role, significant responsibility, and quick recognition for your efforts, a small medical office may be more in line with your goals.


Perhaps at the start of your career you were willing to commute some distance away from your home because you were being paid an attractive salary. However your priorities have now changed and you wish to work closer to home so that you can spend more quality time with your family. If this is the case, focus your search on those which are closer to your home. However, it may well take some time to locate a new job as there may not be any openings at the time of your search.

If you seek to relocate to another part of the country there are a number of factors you will need to consider such as the type of community you wish to reside, possible places of employment, salary ranges for your specialty, school ratings, accessibility to universities in which to continue your education, as well as housing and cost-of-living expenses.

A good place to start is with the local Chamber of Commerce. Nearly every Chamber has a Web site with information on most of the above and will also be able to point you to local newspapers and other information so that you can get a "feel" for the community


An important consideration is that different types of facilities offer varying levels of salary. For example, HMOs typically offer higher salaries, along with a regular work schedule. However, there is usually a heavy patient care load and relatively little room for autonomy.. A second consideration is to factor in where you will be working as income is not evenly distributed across the country. A good resource for performing a cost of living comparison is Sperlings Best Places, A final consideration is to weigh in the benefit package as part of the overall compensation structure. For example, it is important to know what types of health insurance programs are available and how much the employee expected to contribute to each. Also ask about matching 401Ks, family leave, etc.

Statistics by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that most people will change their jobs at least ten times during their lives. Yet, most people forge ahead with a job search without any real planning and then wonder why they are dissatisfied again in another two or three years. It is well worth the time to engage in a strategic and focused job search now so that you can be assured that your next position is one in which represents true growth and development in your career.

If you are considering a career move and are not fully confident that you can, or should, try to write or improve your own nursing resume, you can find a professional that can at NursingResumePros. We specialize in Nursing Resumes and can give you as much or as little help you think you need.

We are proud to be the only full-service resume writers dedicated to nurses and medical professionals. In addition to our resume writing services we offer expert advice and tips you can use right away. Let us help you advance your career and improve your outlook on life.

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