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Playing big or small in your nursing career

Throughout the history of nursing, nurses have struggled for recognition and a deeper stake in the healthcare ecosystem. While lauded as the backbone of the healthcare industry, nurses’ individual and collective bids for increased autonomy have met with varying levels of resistance, even today.

We owe much to those courageous nurses who have paved the way for change, stretching the profession past seemingly arbitrary boundaries. These nurses have played big, serving as role models for those of us who want to color outside of the lines as nursing professionals.

On episode 45 of my podcast, The Nurse Keith Show, I speak at length about the notion of playing it big in your career. In this article I address that idea, albeit with a different twist. That podcast is an excellent companion to this article, and vice versa.

Do this, don’t do that

In the course of your life, how have you been molded by what you felt you were supposed to do? When you were a child, were there voices chiding you to do things a certain way? Did you color outside of the lines? As a teenager, were you unable to even see the box into which others wanted to place you?

As nurses, we can feel beleaguered by forces attempting to dictate our roles and scope of practice. In some states in the U.S., legislators with little knowledge of healthcare have attempted to control nurses, frequently based on lobbying by physicians who would prefer to keep nursing autonomy in check.

In your nursing career, if you’ve limited yourself because of others’ views of your capabilities, then you now have the opportunity to play it bigger. If you’ve been playing it small and you’re tired of unwittingly wearing a yoke that others have placed around your neck, what would it feel like to remove that yoke altogether?

Your oyster, your pearl

At this time, there are prolific signs of change in the nursing zeitgeist. Nurses are starting businesses and entering the entrepreneurial space. Advanced practice nurses are gaining greater autonomy and expanded scopes of practice in many states, even as physicians attempt to stop the inevitable tide. Nurses are seizing power and developing a larger sense of self. What about you?

If you were to listen more deeply to the calling of your nurse’s heart, what would you do? If you were to accept that the world is your (nursing) oyster, what career-related pearls would you set your sights on? If you could reboot your nursing career, what would it look like?

There are plenty of reasons to play small or big in this world; the nursing profession can feel like a straightjacket if you allow it to be one. Remember you have the freedom to reject such restrictions, forge your own path and create a nursing career that speaks to your heart, your mind and your desire for overall professional and personal fulfillment.

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By | 2016-04-07T16:41:01-04:00 March 11th, 2016|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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    mary ann ebe May 5, 2016 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Your article made me take stock of where i am right now and the things i’d like to still accomplish. I hope with the right break and opportunity i can see my goals and vision for my career to fruition.

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