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I've worked on the same unit for more than ten years, but things have changed and now I feel scared and stuck. How do I get unstuck?

Thursday May 23, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I've worked on the same unit for more than ten years. I stayed that long because I loved going to work and made awesome friendships over the years. However, things have changed, such as mandatory layoffs, Obamacare reform, new administration and shifting of staff. Plus there is increased pressure to give the best care in less time and with less help. All of this has made the current job almost unbearable. People I care about are leaving for greener pastures and new adventures — I'm scared and I feel stuck. Why can't I move on? Why am I so scared to leave and take a pay cut? How do I get unstuck?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Stuck,

Many of us often stay in an unhappy or less than ideal situation for a variety of reasons. No one likes change and we fear the unknown. I address this very situation, along with strategies for moving forward, in the article “Knowing when it’s time to move on” www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Move-On. As the piece indicates, staying in an almost unbearable job takes it toll on every aspect of your life. If you stay too long, the damage can be hard to overcome.

Don’t assume you'll be taking a cut in pay by moving on. But you always have to look at the big picture when deciding on your next position: the total compensation package which includes both salary and benefits, the stress level, the opportunity to learn and grow, how the hours, schedule, commute, work setting and the work itself suit you. Everything is a trade off.

I remember something Bryant Gumbel said when leaving the Today Show after 15 years: "The world is too exciting to stay in one place too long." And I'll tell you what I always say — without change there is no growth. And if you’re not growing you’re stagnating.

Start the process by getting out to some nursing career fairs in your area. This is a good way to test the waters to see what's out there. It's also a good way to brush up on your networking and self-marketing skills. Those get rusty when you haven’t been actively in the job market for some time. See what's coming up in your area at www.Nurse.com/Events/Career-fairs/. Read “How to get the most out of attending a career fair” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Career-fair).

For additional resources, support and specific how-to's, read my book: “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical advice for thriving at every stage of your career” (www.Nurse.com/CE/7250). It will help you in numerous ways including updating your resume, image, interview and networking skills, as well as helping you decide where to go from here. In other words, it will help you get unstuck.

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.