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After six years as a psych nurse, I feel stagnant and need a change. But I have physical limitations. Any advice?

Wednesday October 24, 2012
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Dear Donna,

After graduation I went into med/surg, which I love. However, I developed arthritis after being on my feet for eight hours and it got bad. So I changed specialties and became a psychiatric nurse specializing in addiction, rehab and detox at the hospital and non-hospital levels. The patients are ambulatory, so it has been easier on my bones. After six years, I feel stagnant and would like to do something different. But I don’t know where to turn. How do I figure out what and where I can go with my limitations?

Feeling Stagnant

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Feeling Stagnant,

You need to start generating some positive momentum in your career. One way to do this is by attending nursing career fairs. Even though there may be a number of hospitals there looking to fill traditional bedside positions, there are usually at least a handful of nontraditional employers with less physical options. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (Nurse.com/Cardillo/Careerfair). See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-Fairs/.

You should attend local chapter meetings of nursing professional associations, even as a guest if you don't belong to any. Consider groups such as the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org) and the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org). This type of networking is well known to be a great way to explore options, find a job, and make valuable professional contacts.

While at the above events, dress your professional best (a business suit is ideal), shake hands and have business cards and updated copies of your resume with you. Talk to as many people as possible. When you meet someone doing something that is interesting to you, ask if you can spend time with him or her on the phone (or in person) at a later date. In another words, arrange to do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing).

You should consider attending my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar. Find out where I'll be at www.Nurse.com/Events/CE-seminars/. If you can't make any of the events, the program is available in a home-study version at CE.Nurse.com/Professional-Development.

Read the article “How to find your forte” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Forte).

Transitioning is a process, so be patient with yourself and the process. Move forward as above, in faith, and the right path 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.