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I am looking for a career where I can improve the safety of patient care and ease nurses' workload. Any suggestions?

Wednesday October 17, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I recently finished my master’s in nursing and health administration and am currently an assistant charge nurse. I want to improve patient care with safety as a priority and improve the nurses’ workload, which is getting harder and harder every year. I am looking for some performance improvement careers. Do you have any advice?

Hoping To Improve

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Hoping To Improve,

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments. That is commendable. I recommend you look into the specialty of risk management. This is a hot and growing field that encompasses all issues related to safety. Learn more from the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (www.ashrm.org). Attend local chapter meetings, even as a guest for now. Do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with others already successfully working in the specialty. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it.

Also, I suggest that you attend local chapter meetings of the American College of Healthcare Executives (www.ache.org). This will help expand your professional network. You never know where the spark, idea, information, opportunity or contact will come from. You have to put yourself out there. Be sure to bring business cards with you — if you don't have any related to your current position, have some made. Do the same with the National Association for Healthcare Quality (www.nahq.org). Everything happens through networking.

Consider working for a healthcare consulting company that works on the type of issues you are interested in. To find these companies, ask people already working in quality and risk management. Someday you might even start your own consulting business.

Start moving in a positive forward direction with the above suggestions and the right path and opportunity will eventually reveal itself.

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.