Nurse Keith: What Nursing Environment Suits You Best?

Nurse Keith: What Nursing Environment Suits You Best?

Whether you’re in your first semester of nursing school, or you’re deep into your BSN, Master’s in Nursing, or DNP program, defining your “nurseness” is an important step in personal branding as a nursing and healthcare professional

Your chosen nursing environment

For some nurses, everything they do revolves around the hospital. This makes sense, since most members of the general public (and healthcare workers themselves) see nurses as belonging in the hospital environment. Even though many nurses work far outside of hospital hallways, the stereotype of the nurse is ostensibly defined by acute care.

Looking deeply at your own preferences, what environment lights you up and makes you feel at home? If you’re in a nursing program and don’t even know yet, that’s perfectly fine; there’s plenty of time to figure it out along the way by experiencing as many different clinical milieus as possible.

If you’re in a rigorous RN to BSN or MSN program, this is a prime time to begin evaluating what it is about nursing that piques your interest, and within what kind of environment you’d like to stake your claim.

Small or large?

The size of your work environment can impact the quality of your work experience. Just like some students do better in small colleges and some fare better in enormous universities, you may already know that you feel more comfortable in a certain type of workplace.

Do you like to know everyone at your place of work, or do you prefer relative anonymity? Are you perfectly fine working in a hospital with 8,000 employees, many of whom you will never meet or get to know?

Culture is key

Workplace culture is also an important aspect of the place where we spend so much of our time. Do you like open communication and shared governance, or do you prefer a workplace where the hierarchy is more strictly defined?

Do you want to be employed in a setting where mediation, problem-solving, and collective conversation is the norm, or do you prefer that conflicts be handled behind closed doors between as few parties as possible?

Workplace culture is part of the environment; it will, to some extent, define the environment and “vibe” of your place of employment.

Be prepared to change

When you first complete your BSN or MSN program, you may be 100 percent certain that, at this point in your career, you need a very large teaching facility with direct contact with a large multidisciplinary team. However, you may eventually have had enough of the large environment, and you’re ready for a community health center or private practice.

Your needs in terms of a workplace will change; as you grow as a clinician, you will need exposure to different experiences and challenges, and that will sometimes necessitate a major or minor shift in the type of environment that will best serve your career.

Your growth as a nurse is paramount, and you can choose work environments where you feel comfortable, challenged, supported, and valued.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at

Empower yourself with knowledge through an online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case managementinfection control, and executive leadership.

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