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Is there a nursing position where I am not on the floor, but I can still help patients?

Tuesday September 25, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am a new nurse who entered nursing in my ‘40s with a background in management. I am working at a skilled nursing care center. At times I have 17 patients. The majority of my time is spent passing out medications and taking accu-checks. The entire day I feel like I am drowning and always trying to catch up. The sad thing is that I have very little patient care contact. This was the reason I went into nursing. I want to help patients and be their advocate.

I know the real world is different than what we learned in school, but it is scary. Medication errors can happen very easily, because sometimes I see medications being shared among patients. I do not want to lose my license.

Most hospitals will not hire new grads. Maybe floor nursing is not my thing, although I loved my clinicals. Is there a nursing position where I am not on the floor, but I can still help patients? What nursing options are out there that will allow me to continue in nursing without being on the floor?

Craves patient contact

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Craves Patient Contact,

Certainly there are other areas of nursing you can consider and look into where the working conditions and nursing care environment is very positive. You might look into working at an assisted living facility or hospice. Also, there are many ambulatory care options, such as community clinics (some are nurse-led), cancer care centers, public health departments, occupational health, school nursing, out-patient hemodialysis, just to name a few. Also, many home care companies have comprehensive training and orientation for new nurses. There are even acute rehab and sub-acute care that would be a step up from what you are doing now.

I recommend you start attending nursing career fairs to see what else is out there. Although many hospitals exhibit at these events, there are almost always a variety of nontraditional employers as well. It’s a good venue to test the waters, gather a lot of information, and make valuable professional contacts. See what’s coming up at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Careerfair).

Also. I urge you to join and get active in your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). It is vital that you immerse yourself in the community of nursing. Not only is this vital for your professional growth and development, but it is a good way to meet nurses from other facilities working in other specialties. You can do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with some that you meet. Networking is well known as a powerful way to find the good jobs, under any circumstances. The more active you get in the association by attending meetings and even getting on a committee, the better members will get to know you and you them, thus furthering your networking reach.

Also consider attending my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminars to fully explore your options. See where I’ll be at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars.

I know you have gotten off to a less than ideal start, but I am confident you will find the right path for yourself in nursing by moving forward in faith and taking the steps I recommend above.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.