Choose Your Nursing Career Path by Embracing Lane Changes

February 28, 2023

Jamal Ali


Illustration of the profile of a nurse, with arrows leading away from the profile

It’s no surprise that in the days since COVID-19, job satisfaction in healthcare has decreased. Between half and two-thirds of nurses say they plan to leave their job in the next three years. The exhaustion, stress and mental strain many nurses have felt are all completely valid reasons for someone to consider a career change, but perhaps there’s another way to approach this change. Instead of leaving nursing, what if you could still utilize the knowledge and skills you have, just in a different position? It could be time for a lane change.

While I was a young nursing graduate, I was offered a position in a geriatric dementia ward and I politely declined. As a new nurse, I knew working eight to twelve hours a day with dementia clients wouldn’t be the right fit for me. It wasn’t because I felt uncompassionate or incompetent to care for them. Rather, I knew there was a more suitable role for me. I also knew that at least half of my graduating class would have loved to work in that setting, so I felt comfortable I said no.

I share this story because it’s important that you choose the nursing path that works for you at whatever point you are in your career. Before getting into training, benefits or work culture, you need to ensure you’re in an environment that you know you can thrive in as a nurse, able to utilize your unique strengthens to the best of your ability. If you’re overstressed, emotional or unprepared for a job, not only do you suffer, but so do the patients.

So, where do you begin?

There are many jobs for nurses, so ask yourself what you like to do, what you dislike and where you could you see yourself for the long haul at this point in your life. Be honest with yourself. If your answer is “I want to help people,” you should drill down and get more specific, because your interests and strengths can help people in many different ways. Perhaps you like data and paperwork – administration or utilization review might be your path. If you enjoy an everchanging, fast-paced environment that requires quick thinking on your feet, emergency medicine might be your calling. There are even opportunities to give one-on-one patient care without being confined to a floor in home healthcare.

Look around the web, chat on nursing websites and explore social media. From critical care to forensic research for prisons to public health, there’s a place for you in nursing. Discover what kind of jobs are out there and see how changing your lane can get you the nursing career that best serves you.

American College of Education’s fully online programs are a great way for you to earn the education you need to make a lane change. Explore our education, nursing, business and leadership programs.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of American College of Education.
Jamal Ali
Jamal Ali, MSN

Jamal is a Registered Nurse and the director of healthcare services for Briarwood Home Health and Interim Hospice. He is pursuing his master's in nursing from ACE, with a focus in nursing administration.

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