I am interested in working for an insurance company or a law office. I’m feeling nervous about transitioning from the hospital but desperately need a change. My friends say I am throwing all my experience away if I leave. Any words of wisdom?
Interested in Insurance Nursing
Dear Interested in Insurance Nursing,
When making a transition from a traditional patient care position to something less traditional, such as case management, telephone triage or legal nurse consulting, it is common for some nurses to feel uneasy. I’ve heard nurses refer to this as “changing careers” or “leaving nursing,” neither of which is the case. The truth is that nurses are versatile and multitalented. We are healers, teachers and nurturers. There are many ways and places to make a difference — some direct and some indirect. We are vital at the bedside but we are just as vital in every other aspect of the healthcare arena.
Is a nurse who works for an insurance company or is an editor of a nursing magazine or is a recruiter for a hospital or does research any less of a nurse than one who delivers direct patient care? Not at all.
Actually, the more places we work, the greater impact we will have as healthcare experts and patient advocates and the more we will get noticed and taken seriously. In addition, our collective voice will be louder. Besides, having options is a good thing. Just knowing you have options lessens your anxiety about the future.
When transitioning into a non-traditional role, not only will you have things to learn about your new specialty, but you might also be working in a different type of environment and be required to learn different types of skills. You may be required to dress differently than you are accustomed to, e.g. business clothes vs. uniforms or scrubs. Because of this, many nurses making such a transition will say, “I feel like a fish out of water.” That feeling is normal and will dissipate as time goes on.
Unfortunately, some nurses jump ship and return to their old jobs before giving themselves an opportunity to become comfortable in a new setting. Every new job, specialty and work setting requires a period of adjustment. You have to set small, short-term goals for yourself and track your progress. Remind yourself that you are expanding your horizons and experience base every day. Also, expand your view of who you are, what you do, and what you are capable of doing as a nurse.