How to be yourself while building your nursing career

By | 2016-11-22T21:37:34-05:00 November 16th, 2016|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Through all the changes in the 21st century, nurses remain the backbone and lifeblood of healthcare. I am passionate about nursing and am confident nurses will continue to have myriad opportunities that will help build successful careers. But two things that I see as most central to having a satisfying nursing career over the long haul is authenticity and the drive to continue learning.

Be authentic

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken,” and this could not be truer for nurses. In a world of increasing corporatization and centralization, we can sometimes feel like cogs in someone else’s quickly spinning wheel, while we’re just trying to provide excellent patient care.

If you feel it’s important to hold a patient’s hand, heed your authentic intuitive nature and do it. While holding a hand may not yield an earth-shattering revelation, you never know how such a simple act may reverberate through the patient’s mind and heart for days. Sure, those few moments may throw off your tight schedule, but small acts of authentic kindness can change the tenor of your day, your patients’ experience and how you feel about your career.

Authenticity comes in many forms, from having a frank conversation with a patient to going the extra mile to support a colleague in need of a shoulder. Being true to yourself, your career, your motivations and your professional and human aspirations are an intrinsic part of who you are.

Cultivate a lifelong curiosity

As a nurse, you obviously need to earn continuing education hours to renew your license. You should study the latest evidence base for emergency triage, central-line dressing care and so on, since that type of learning is crucial to your practice. But there is so much more.

Nurses who work with patients also can be students of the human condition, choosing to continue learning about people, their motivations, their aspirations and how life challenges us daily.

Aside from learning about new insulin pumps and antibiotics, nurses also can seek out experiences and knowledge that will assist them in being better at their jobs, as well as better people in the context of human relationships. When we more fully understand culture, psychology, art, literature, politics, socio-economics and society at large, we can increase our capacity for understanding, empathy and compassion.

So be authentic and go wherever your curiosity takes you. Continue to learn about life and the ways in which nurses can contribute to the empowerment and well-being of others. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

This is my last blog as’s official career blogger. But you can continue to find my career advice on It has been a privilege to contribute to this robust online nursing community. May you all continue to grow and find success as nurses.

To comment, email [email protected]



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About the Author:

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. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.”

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Croney November 18, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    At 60+ years and a life long nursing career I have been left behind with technology. Dealing with deaths (from an early age) geriatrics, many years of home health at night (with clients hooked up to many machines), and life with a career military person who was in more than 1 war has taken a personal health toll. Since then I have worked with dementia and mentally/physically challenged individuals. I am ” burned out” and have little reserve to fall back on. I have travelled and lived in several foreign countries, have hobbies of gardening, swimming and music. Differential diagnoses i have include depression, arthritis, P.T.S.D., ? Aspergers, ? Pragmatic Communication Disorder, ? Sjogrens, ? Fibromyalgia, ? Borderline Personality. Had cataracts removed but nothing can be done for visual “floaters”. Have sleep apnoea using C.P.A.P for 10 years lying down. The surgery for same produced no improvement. All nurses now spend majority of time with data entry, which I cannot enter within the legal time frames. Am expat looking at Brexit. Was turned down for SSDI when I informed assessing doctor I was concerned for my adult child’s health who was in military war overseas and has similar diagnoses. I do not have a U.S. Nursing degree nor do I misuse medications. I take the bare minimum. Triggers to my past are in the news every day; I had an inter racial marriage. My young friends confide in me and say I am their inspiration, though they do not have time to offer practical assistance. That doesn’t pay the bills. When attending any job interview I am told that I am over qualified for the positions that I have applied for. Your last blog?? Are you burned out too?? I do not want to work from home in isolation. I am not allowed to do continuing nurse degree online or in any other State. I have no wish to go into student loan debt to sit behind a computer to get a degree in a different area. Volunteering ? Talking? ( i freeze when have to recite in front of a crowd). Have just vented to you. Not enough hours in my day to complete what I need to at my slow pace. Have yet to learn how to use a smartphone, Windows 10 or practice with Office suite due to using specific websites and multiple programs at work. Apply for jobs? Update resume that a computer reads for key words? Seriously; staff do not have time to do their own tasks let alone mentor / perform on the job training with newcomers. The system is broken!!

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