American Sentinel University Career Coach Says Nurses Must Act Self-Employed to Better Their Careers

By Adopting a Self-employed Mindset, Nurses Have a Greater Chance to Create a Healthcare Career That Thrives

AURORA, Colo. – May 4, 2017 – No matter who’s currently signing your paycheck, the reality is that in the big picture, everyone is self-employed, according to American Sentinel University’s career coach Kim Dority. She says one way to think of this is that we’re renting our skills out to our current employer.

Dority says this can sometimes be an odd idea for those in the nursing profession to come to grips with because nurses are trained to think of themselves as being part of a helping community.

But she also notes that every aspect of the profession has been affected by financial realities that lead to mergers and management changes, budget constraints, and occasional staff cuts and layoffs.

While it’s not personal, it is reality

Dority says nurses’ understanding of their need to take responsibility for their career outcomes – and to act on that knowledge – is one of the most important career competencies they can develop.

“That’s not because employers don’t care about your well-being, but rather because your nursing/healthcare career can’t be their highest priority. So it has to be yours,” says Dority.

For nurses to get used to this take-charge approach to their career, Dority says it’s important to master some key concepts that will help them focus on opportunities rather than waiting to be blindsided by unexpected workplace changes.

For example:

It’s not (necessarily) personal. She says your employer’s responsibility is to make the best use of the organization’s resources to support its key mission or strategy (and survival). Both missions and strategies may change over time, and a nurse’s skills may no longer align with the new direction. This is how most layoffs happen.

Dority stresses, “Even if it is personal, if it seems like your boss has it in for you and has been actively undermining you prior to a termination, the reality is that there are some truly awful people in the world, and it’s likely you’ll end up working for at least a couple of them throughout your career.”

She urges nurses to let go of their anger and focus forward – specifically, on what they’d like their next steps to be.

No one can get you unstuck but you. Dority says everyone dreams about their perfect job, preferably one that lands in their laps and pays a lovely salary. But even though it may not have landed yet, that doesn’t mean that nurses still can’t work their way into that perfect (or close to it) job.

“If you’re feeling stuck in a less-than-fulfilling job, you’re the one who can change that – because you’re the one in charge of your career,” she adds.  She encourages nurses to research their options and to determine what people to talk to, what questions to ask, to figure out what they might rather be doing and how to make that happen.

Set your goal, know how you’re going to get there, and then create your action plan. “It’s critical nurses create a plan detailing what steps they need to take and when the timing is right,” Dority says this is both the exhilarating and the scary part of being in charge of your nursing career – all of the decisions are yours to make.

Taking control means focusing on short- and long-term opportunities. Once a nurse realizes that they’re ultimately self-employed, and the trajectory of their career is solely in their hands, they will start making decisions based not only on short-term considerations (for example, a higher salary) but also on long-term career benefits.

For example, Dority says nurses should think about what they might learn in a given job that could at some point lead to opportunities they are particularly passionate about in a new nursing area. Nurses can also connect with colleagues or mentors they might be able to build career-long relationships with by volunteering for a professional task force.

Also, they’ll probably want to think about what doors might open if they invested in further professional development in an area of emerging healthcare trends.

“When nurses begin to take charge of their career outcomes and frame them within a decades-long context, investing in their careers starts to pay off with both short- and long-term benefits,” Dority adds.

Embracing a self-employed mindset

Dority says if nurses aren’t used to thinking this way about their nursing/management career, it can feel a bit unreal at first. And the longer a nurse has been a professional (for example, if they started working when employment was considered a fairly stable situation), the more disorienting it can seem.

“The good news is that there are now some excellent books devoted to this topic, and they do a solid job of considering what the self-employed mindset means to individuals more comfortable with employment than entrepreneurship. Here’s a list of some of the best books I highly recommend.”

“People change, companies change, life circumstances change, and your career will change as well,” adds Dority. “The good news is that by adopting a self-employed mindset, you have a much better chance of creating a nursing/healthcare career that thrives through those changes.”

Check out American Sentinel University’s nursing professional series blog for more tips.

About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online nursing degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The DNP program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The university is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The Accrediting Commission of DEAC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.