Nursing is a very demanding job and it’s not uncommon for nurses to consider quitting many times during their careers. Things have been especially rough for nurses lately, and if you’ve thought about quitting, you’re not alone.
However, you have to think about all the years you’ve spent building experience in this industry and look at whether you’re truly ready for a life outside of nursing. There could also be options outside of quitting that you may have not considered. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should do before you quit nursing for good.
1. Speak to Someone
Before you make a snap decision about your career, you should think about getting support first. Maybe you can speak to someone you’re working alongside with whom you have a good rapport or find a nurse support group. There are plenty of groups around the country that are there specifically to help nurses who are feeling distressed at work. The people here may be able to give you the help you need and tell you whether getting out of the profession is the best and only choice for you.
You should also look at the resources available at your place of work. If you have a wellness program or can have access to a therapist, use them right now because times like these are specifically why these resources were set up. Also, don’t be afraid to tell people around you if you’re feeling out of it. They might not be able to help you, but they may approach you differently which could make a world of difference and maybe convince you to stick around for a little while more.
2. Change Departments or Look at Specializations
If you’re a registered nurse, you should first look at whether you could specialize before calling it quits. You should also consider asking to be moved to a different wing to see if you could benefit from a change of air and pace. It would be a good idea to look at a few specializations first and see if anything catches your eye. You could then ask to be moved to a corresponding department. This will give you an idea of what the job of nurses in that specialization really is like and if this is something you could see yourself doing for the rest of your career.
It would also be a good idea to speak with as many nurses as possible in the areas that interest you. If you want to know an easy way to get in contact with specialized nurses and ask for their opinion, LinkedIn is the place to go. You can run a search on LinkedIn for nurses in virtually any specialization and you’re likely to find one that will be willing and happy to tell you what you can expect from the position. They’ll be able to tell you some of the pros and cons of the specialization along with some of the challenges that might stand in your way.
3. Look at Leadership Roles
Another thing you could consider is moving to a leadership or administrative role. This is an especially good option if you’re an experienced nurse and you feel stuck in your current position. Sometimes, nurses get disengaged because of the monotony of the job and they start going through the motions, or they feel stifled in their responsibilities. If you have always craved having more responsibilities on the floor and are already the one keeping everyone on track, then you might be the right fit for a leadership position.
If this is something that interests you, know that you don’t have to quit to working as a nurse leader. Universities like Baylor have online nursing leadership courses that you can take from the comfort of your home. You’ll be able to get your credentials and maybe start applying some of the things you learn in your course as you go. This could allow you to move to a better position before you even complete your studies.
4. Start Working Part-Time
If you have a solid safety net and you feel like you’re making much more than you need right now, there’s nothing stopping you from working part-time. You could realize that you are simply overworked and aren’t sick of the profession per se. Another option would be to move to a three-day schedule with 12-hour shifts. You won’t find this type of schedule everywhere, but if you do, working three days only while still being able to earn a full-time income could be a life-changer. This is especially true if you have children and feel like your job is hurting your relationship with them.
5. Get Away from the Bedside
Have you thought about getting a non-beside job? Nursing is such a vast field and quitting just because you’re sick of the ER would be a horrible decision if you don’t look at alternatives first. For instance, you could move to a job as a school nurse and get much easier shifts. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about overtime, and you’ll get three months of vacation every summer. Or you could work as a rescue nurse and provide life support to people getting airlifted. You could work on a cruise line if you want and get to travel the seven seas while assisting cruise-goers. You also have the option to move into academia or research.
Another option could be to become a nurse entrepreneur or provide services. Some nurses provide transcription services, for instance, or work as forensic nurse consultants. You could also provide specialized training for certification or work as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company or medical equipment manufacturer. There are so many opportunities out there for you when you have nursing qualifications, so see how you can capitalize on your experience before you just throw it away.
These are all things you need to look into before you think about leaving the nursing field entirely. This is a decision you might end up regretting fast, so look at all the options that are open to you and take your time.