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How can nurse find her niche?

Dear Donna,

I was a LPN for three years and worked in mostly long-term care. I went back to school for my RN and went straight into the ED. I loved it other than having to stick little ones with needles. I didn’t stay in that field. Then I moved through several jobs: rehab, doctor’s office, travel nurse and med/surg nurse. Co-workers always compliment me on being a good nurse. This makes me feel so good, but I think I lack self-confidence. I just want to be happy at my job and give great patient care. I would love for my next job to be my niche.

Looking for Her Niche

Dear Looking for Her Niche,

The idea of finding a niche in nursing, that one magical place where each nurse feels a sense of belonging or destiny is both outdated and misunderstood. It is based on an old model of nursing where a new nurse would choose a clinical specialty, dig her heels in and stay there for the majority of her career. Nurses don’t work that way anymore for many reasons.  The job market has changed, the role of the nurse is expanding and everyone is living and working longer.

I would imagine you are searching for someplace where you feel happy, challenged and appreciated. There’s no question that that is ideal, but coming to that state in one place can take a little time. There are pros and cons to every setting/situation. No place is perfect. You don’t seem to be giving anything much of a chance. It’s normal to lack confidence in the early stages of nursing. Changing jobs over every little thing you don’t care for or is hard for you is also a way of avoiding the challenges and facing the fears that you must eventually confront on the road to becoming a competent and confident nurse

Even though you were an LPN for many years, being an RN is very different, as you already know. It is said it takes a full year to start feeling comfortable in your new role and another year to start feeling competent. You’ll have trouble achieving that if you keep jumping ship. You’ll also have trouble getting hired soon if you keep job hoping. It does not inspire confidence in a prospective employer or in you.

Finding a good job is one thing. Creating support systems and immersing yourself in the community of nursing is another and just as important. Regardless of how long you’ve been an RN, read the following articles to help you build a foundation in nursing and increase your confidence: “New grads: you can do it!” and “Lean on me.” You might also find my book “Your 1st Year as a Nurse” helpful.

Once you accept another position, be ready to make at least a one-year commitment to it. If necessary you may want to seek the counsel of a nurse career coach to help you get your career on the right track.

Best Wishes,





By | 2020-04-15T16:19:10-04:00 May 18th, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Donna Cardillo
Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, is president of Known as The Inspiration Nurse, she is a keynote speaker, retreat and seminar leader, 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." She brings more than 25 years of clinical, management and business experience to her role as career guru.

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