I get bored and frustrated with my nursing career and feel like I need to move on to a new specialty every couple of years. What should be my next step in the profession?

By | 2022-02-11T16:12:41-05:00 July 1st, 2010|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I’m searching online for an interesting nursing field that I may not have really thought about before. My motivation: a combination of boredom and the sense that I am failing myself. Can the grass really be greener somewhere else, and can I ever really feel like a success?

I am a full-time nursing (house) supervisor, and I fill in as a procedure nurse. I’m great as a supervisor and good at placing PICC lines, and administering conscious sedation is simple. So why am I bored, and why do I feel like I’m failing? I continue to hit a wall every two years where suddenly I’m bored and frustrated. And during those two years, every time I feel like I perform poorly, I want to quit and run.

What typically happens is I suddenly become angry with processes that have not been fixed, careless coworkers who are still plugging away, directors who have not fixed department problems in years, and leadership that meets good advice with denial and does not understand the jobs of those beneath them. Also getting old are the constant multiple licensure renewals, computer EMR updates and training sessions, disaster trainings and drills, staff meetings, etc., all of which occur on scheduled days off. Because I wear several hats, I share weekend rotations for more than one specialty, too.

So here I sit wondering if there is any place I could work, any type of nursing I could do, any setting where two years into it I remain thrilled to be part of something bigger than me.

But there is also the issue of feeling less than successful at times, not just bored or frustrated. I’m great at starting difficult IVs and am skilled with use the of ultrasound when necessary. But I still get nervous, especially with peds patients and laboring OB patients or if family members are watching or are being demanding. I perform best when alone with a patient and there is no sense of urgency. I hate myself any time I can’t get an IV because of environmental or situational stresses. I feel like a failure.

Do I really need other people to think well of me to be able to be happy at work? Am I immature to crave positive feedback so much and to fear failure or what others think of me?

I have learned every new nursing field in half the time it takes others. I like to learn about and master completely new areas of nursing, although I’m not one to chase after lots of schooling. I am a hands-on learner and not one to sit in long lectures and read textbooks.

I would love to teach nursing students. I just realized this. But could I ignore campus politics enough to do it for more than two years?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Nathan,

There are so many potential issues to address in your post I barely know where to start. I wish I knew what your educational background is because regardless of where you go from here (or even if you stay) I do know that furthering one’s education is a way to learn more about yourself, build confidence, and better equip you to be happy and successful. Read “Go Back to School and Change Your Life” at www.Nurse.com.com/Cardillo/BacktoSchool.

It sounds like you are an intelligent, experienced and multi-talented individual — good at many things. It’s not surprising you get bored and frustrated after a short time. But just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you necessarily enjoy it or should be doing it. If you’re not happy and not fulfilled, you’ll never feel successful and will always have a sense of unease.

In many ways I can relate to your story. I used to change jobs every two to four years because I became bored, frustrated and/or overwhelmed. Family and friends would say, “Don’t you know what you want to do?” or “Can’t you hold a job?” I often wondered what was wrong with me. But looking back I now realize that I was accumulating experiences so I could do what I do today as a nurse entrepreneur — speak, write and support and advise nurses and more. It all becomes part of your story and path.

It also might be helpful for you to work with an RN career coach, life coach or a mental health counselor. Coaches help people assess their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, make decisions and support them on their journey. Counselors can help all of us to find our way in life, develop good life skills, overcome traits and tendencies that drag us down and explore more of our inner self. Both can be part of a successful life planning/life executing strategy for happiness and success. I have used both in my life at varying times.

Who knows? You might be an entrepreneur at heart. Or maybe you need to simply look in new directions for work, perhaps a more non-traditional path. Consider attending my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar to fully explore your options and identify transferable skills. See where I’ll be at www.nurse.com/ce “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses — Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career” (www.nurse.com/ce/7250). The book will help you map out a plan for your career that will take you where you need to go — even if you don’t yet know where that is.

My best wishes,

Let us help you get started on your next educational journey in nursing. Visit our Higher Education Guide and comprehensive School Directory to learn more.


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