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Does an experienced RN need to find a new career if he/she prefers to work behind the scenes instead of with patients, families and staff?

Monday June 30, 2014
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Dear Donna,

After being a nurse for more than 20 years, I am trying to decide if I should continue to try and find my niche in nursing or change careers. The Myers-Briggs typing tells me I am an INFP. Do you have any advice for this particular type? It fits me perfectly; I would rather be working behind the scene, focusing on one thing at a time and focusing on the big picture. I avoid conflict at all cost and am exhausted by talking with patients, families and staff all day long. I do, however, consider myself a healer, but I’m not sure where I fit.

Trying to Find Niche

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Trying to Find Niche,

The great thing about nursing is that it offers something for everyone. It is the most diverse profession on the planet.

The idea of finding your niche is an outdated model in nursing. There was a time when nurses chose a specialty, dug their heels in and stayed there for most of their careers. Today, everyone is living and working longer. Plus the healthcare environment and job market are continuously changing. So most nurses will change specialties/employers/settings multiple times in their careers.

Myers-Briggs typing is a good tool for self-awareness but not a definitive guide for career planning. There are many others aspects of an individual’s personality, likes and dislikes, experiences and where they are located that go into deciding on a career. For the record, most humans avoid conflict at all costs, even though the costs are often high. Read “Seven strategies for managing conflict” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Seven-Strategies).

Don't even think about leaving nursing. You possess a great body of knowledge and experience, including your healing nature, which is marketable and valuable. What you do need to find is a position where you feel you are learning and growing and otherwise fits your needs at this time. Many positions involve no patient contact. There are many ways and places to make a difference, both direct and indirect.

Some examples of "indirect" positions might be: working for your state Quality Improvement Organization (http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/QualityImprovementOrgs/index.html?redirect=/qualityimprovementorgs/)
doing chart reviews and quality studies; working for an insurance company, doing utilization review; working for a pharmaceutical company as a drug information specialist or doing insurance exams for a portamedic company. The possibilities are endless.

You'd be a perfect candidate for my “Career Alternatives for Nurses” seminar
It also is available in a home-study version (http://ce.nurse.com/Professional-Development).
You also should attend career fairs in your area since many exhibitors have nontraditional/non-patient care related opportunities (http://www.nurse.com/events/career-fairs).

Clearly you are need of a change but leaving nursing doesn't have to be part of that change. Most nurses are not aware of the broad array of opportunities available to them or even know how or where to find and get hired in those jobs. The above resources, as well as generally meeting and talking to others in healthcare about alternative career opportunities, will start you on the path to making your next move. Another good resource for you to read is “How to find your forte” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Forte).

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://www. Nurse.com/Events.