Stay or Go? Ten Questions to Figure Out if You’re in the Right Nursing Job

Ah, the overwhelming joy of landing a job! During the economic ups and downs of the recent past, most of us have been so grateful to land a decent, full-time job that few have given much thought to whether that job is really the right place for them.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. Now that the economy is turning around and you’re developing a greater level of confidence in your skills, you may be starting to think more about how well your current job fits who you are, what your strengths, interests, and passions are, and where you’d like your career to be heading.

Here are ten questions that will help you figure out whether the job you’re in is the right one for you, at least at this point in your career:

1 – Do I agree with the values and mission of my employer?

This is an increasingly important question as more and more of the medical and healthcare industries move to a profit-driven financial model. It’s certainly possible to combine both profit and customer-centric approaches to service delivery for hospitals and clinics and other healthcare delivery organizations, but if this is an important issue for you, your employer’s mission or focus will strongly influence how good a fit your job is for you.

2 – Do I enjoy most of the work I do?

Every job’s going to have its share of icky stuff – too many reports to fill out, dealing with a cranky coworker, having to play on the department baseball team, for instance. But if, on balance, you’re able to enjoy the work you do on a day-to-day basis, then there’s probably a good alignment between what makes you happy and what the job provides.

3 – Do I enjoy the team I work with, and do they help me bring my A-game?

Every team has its share of cranks and complainers, but if you enjoy, trust, and are challenged by most of your colleagues, then it’s probably a good work environment for you. Growth and innovation flourish in a safe environment, and if your workplace provides that, it’s likely that your ability to grow and innovate professionally will flourish as well (an especially good outcome for the future of your career).

4 – Do I have a decent relationship with my boss?

You and your boss don’t have to be best buddies, but there does need to be mutual respect and trust. You need to feel committed to helping your boss succeed, and in return, he or she needs to be committed to your long-term success. Your boss may not be as engaged with your work life as, say, a mentor might be, but a boss who will at least take the time to listen to your concerns and treat them seriously is a keeper.

5 – Am I paid a reasonable salary, with decent raises?

There are many smart reasons to take low-paying, entry-level jobs when you’re just starting out in your nursing career, but once you’ve established yourself as a reliable, consistent contributor, you salary should reflect those strengths. Yep, we know that high salaries aren’t the reason you went into nursing, but on the other hand, you do deserve to be paid a competitive wage.

6 – Can I grow professionally in this job?

There are lots of ways to challenge yourself to expand your skill set on the job. One of the easiest is to ask someone whose skills you’d like to learn to share their expertise with you (while you, of course, help them with their job responsibilities); another way is to attend in-house training sessions and professional development programs offered by your employer. A third way is to volunteer (above and beyond your existing responsibilities) on new projects and initiatives in order to develop skills such as leadership, cross-departmental team collaboration, or perhaps project management. Yet another way to grow professionally is to take advantage of every single professional development dollar your employer offers, for things like memberships in professional associations, conference attendance, or tuition reimbursement. If, however, none of these options are available to you, then it’s probably time to rethink what could be a dead-end stalling point in your career.

7 – Is career advancement likely in this job?

Does your employer look for opportunities to promote from within by investing in the growth of high-performing staff members and grooming them for higher-level positions? If it’s a company you’d like to stay – and grow – with, this can be a key consideration. You don’t want to spend years of your career giving your all you best stuff and loyalty to an employer only to find that your commitment is unlikely to be reciprocated. If you’re not seeing a lot of individuals “promoted from within” (as opposed to your employer filling open jobs with outsiders), then it may indicate a lack of internal career-advancement opportunities.

8 – Is this job taking me in my desired career direction?

Whether it does so directly or indirectly, if at all possible you want your current job to position you for your next-phase job, the one that will get you closer to your dream job. If after several years in your current spot it becomes clear that you’ve landed in the proverbial “dead-end job” with no hope or prospects for taking your skills in new directions, then it might be time to accept that reality and consider alternatives.

9 – Is my employer keeping up with advances in medical care or healthcare delivery?

Working for an organization that’s not investing the funds necessary to stay current with technology advances and process improvements not only makes it more difficult to do your job well, it also hurts you competitiveness in the job market if other job applicants are familiar with technologies you’ve barely heard of, at best. On the other hand, if your employer is willing to make the investment but just needs someone to lead the initiative, that’s the kind of career opportunity you should immediately volunteer to be part of, if not lead.

10 – Are there ways my job can help me increase my network and/or professional visibility?

Some jobs are worth staying with simply because they provide you with amazing opportunities to grow your career in terms of expanding your network of professional connections or your professional visibility. Are you asked to represent your company via conference presentations or delivering training sessions or authoring expert-opinion articles under your own name? Each of these activities provides substantial opportunities to grow your professional presence and value in the eyes of other potential employers, while also helping you make the key career connections that help you expand your professional horizons.

As you think through your answers to these questions, also think about which of the questions are most important to you at this point in your career. Is a good relationship with your boss and coworkers a higher priority than a great salary and raises? Does enjoying the work you do outweigh having a good chance of being promoted within the organization? These are the types of questions you want to consider as you decide whether to stay or go.

Still not sure which choice to make? Relax and simply pay attention to the questions for awhile. Eventually, you’ll find that the picture becomes clearer for you, and you’ll be ready to commit with confidence to one choice or the other.

This article was brought to you by American Sentinel’s career coach, Kim Dority – be sure to check out her other articles for more tips.