16 July 2015

The next great adventure

My next great career adventure has begun! I recently resigned my faculty position after 20 years of teaching and started working full time as a nurse consultant for ATI Nursing Education. Some say the decision to pursue the next leg of my professional journey was swift. But those in the know are keenly aware that I was methodical and purposeful, carefully and strategically considering each aspect of my career change. It was a deeply reflective experience as I sought the wise counsel of family, friends, and numerous mentors who guided me along the way.

I knew I wanted something new, fresh, and different in my work life. My love for nursing and education never wavered, but a strong and convincing force was beckoning me toward a new direction. For decades, my custom has been to strategically plot my short- and long-term goals on a timeline, to share them with my closest mentors, and to implement an action plan to achieve them. I have known for years that, someday, I would leave my faculty position to pursue my passion to become a full-time nurse consultant. This career transition required careful consideration.

I spent a good deal of time thinking about the type of organization with which I desired to be affiliated. It didn’t matter whether the organization was private or public. What mattered most was that members of the organization lived by a shared vision and mission, based on values of mutual respect, collegiality, quality, and excellence—values built on organizational trust and community responsibility. I wanted to be a member of a workplace where employees are viewed as partners, valued as assets, and generously rewarded for their individual and collective contributions to the success of the organization.

I looked for a workplace with high levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, and morale. It was also important to be affiliated with an organization on the rise, one that encourages free expression of diverse ideas, so that all voices might be heard and appreciated to inform the best decision-making processes possible. I wanted to wake up in the morning filled with feelings of excitement and joy for the work I was doing and be rewarded for a job well done. If you are not doing work you love, you might never reach your full potential. It will continue to be just a job and eventually become rote, mundane, and boring. I never really lacked a passion for teaching; it’s just that the tug of something more continued its steady pull. Thus began my odyssey to pursue one of the best jobs ever.

To begin, I set clear goals and carefully detailed what I was looking for in terms of organizational culture, work responsibilities, opportunities for personal and professional growth, ability to express my passion and ideas, membership on a high performing team, making a difference, and most of all, having fun! Once I began to deeply reflect on these and other issues, I spent countless hours talking with coaches and mentors about the best direction to pursue. I wrote down the pros and cons of leaving my current faculty position and taking on a new role in what would essentially be the grand unknown.

I focused on key elements of a healthy work environment and, taking my own advice, I assessed the relative health of my new work environment by completing the Clark Healthy Workplace Inventory. Because I am a firm believer in working for an organization that promotes wellness, as well as physical, emotional, and spiritual good health, I wanted to ensure that I was making the right decision and focusing on important issues related to healthy workplaces.

It’s easy to become content with the status quo and fall victim to the relative comfort and ease of current work conditions, especially if we are paid a fair wage and genuinely like our co-workers. Of course, there is nothing wrong with feeling content or comfortable in your job. It's just that if you yearn for more, this complacency can hold you back from achieving your grandest dreams. Remember, we spend well over 40 hours per week at our jobs, so it’s important to regularly evaluate our career goals and consider opportunities that will take our careers to a whole new level.

Whether you are curious about the health of your current workplace or seeking employment elsewhere, you might want to complete the Clark Healthy Workplace Inventory. I have said it before, and I'll say it again: “Culture trumps everything.” So if you are curious, click here to see how your place of employment stacks up.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.