At some point in your ICU career, you will probably look for a new opportunity or place to work. Here is some advice to consider before taking the leap. Taking the time to stop and take stock of where you are in your nursing career is an important exercise- everyone should do at least once a year. This allows you to be mindful of your motives to make a change or to stay where you are, below are a few things to consider while evaluating your current position:
Do You Have Enough Experience to Make a Move?
One vital element in having the leverage to entertain multiple opportunities outside of your current position is your level of experience. If you have been an ICU nurse for less than 5 years, you may need to stay put until this benchmark is reached. Once you have hit the 5-year mark, you’ll be considered seasoned, and will have the experience needed to be a competitive candidate for other positions. In the meantime, consider building up other areas of your resume such as education and certifications, while you wait to hit your 5-year benchmark.
If you get hired at a company that isn’t the right fit, that’s ok too! Just try to make sure you show that you can stay at a place for a few years when you take the next opportunity. You don’t want to be viewed as a job hopper, but job hopping is becoming much more normal these days.
Education is another critical factor when considering your options. In order to work at reputable hospitals or facilities, a BSN degree is commonly required. If you still only have your nursing associate’s degree, consider completing your BSN while continuing to add to your experience in order to put yourself in a position of maximum leverage. There are many BSN programs that you can complete online or schedule the classes around your work schedule. Adding another two to three years’ experience while earning your degree can be a great combination for your future.
Does Your Current Employer Have Advancement Opportunities?
Are there opportunities to advance into management or administration where you currently are working? It may take several years to move up the ladder. If not, this may be reason enough to move on.
Does your current employer offer personal development opportunities? These type of opportunities can be priceless, even if you don’t see yourself staying with this organization for the long-term. If professional development courses or classes are offered through your organizations for free, try to take them!
Not ever organization offers professional development. When looking for the next place to work, evaluate their commitment to your professional development. Will they pay for your continuing education? Will they reimburse your college tuition or debt? Can you negotiate reimbursement with your hiring package?
Seeking Additional Specializations and Certifications
Do you want to pursue a nursing specialization? What if your current employer doesn’t have a need for this specialization? If it’s your passion, go for it anyway! For example, you may want to become a certified wound care specialist, but your current organization doesn’t have CWCS opportunities. You may find by attaining the CWCS you actually created new opportunities for yourself and may want to explore other organizations looking for CWCS’.
Learn more about additional Nursing Certifications from what they make to what to expect. There are so many different specializations and certifications that can all help you become more marketable.
Another important factor to consider is the size and strength of your network in your current organization. Having a strong network doesn’t necessarily mean having connections higher up in your organization. It can simply mean you have a tight-knit group of several peers and a supervisor or two whom you can trust. This is an excellent situation to be in, and not something to take for granted.
If you don’t see a long-term future with your organization, but do have a strong support network, take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience, solidify your network, continue pursuing your education to earn your BSN and/or MSN and earn additional nursing certifications to differentiate yourself. Then leave for the perfect opportunity- you have no reason to settle.