The transition from winter into spring always inspires me to think of new growth and untapped potential. The freshness is energizing. It's an especially good time to reflect on the transitions that we go through in our nursing careers—and consider the transitions we have an opportunity to make when contemplating career goals. Whether it's graduate nurse to competent clinician, clinical nurse to educator or leader, or movement into any other related career path, there's a personal and professional growth process to be undertaken. So, for all of you who are ready to take the leap or who are in the midst of your own transition, I share these insights.
When you decide to make a transition (like going back to school or accepting a new position), you're still the same person, but be prepared: People might see you differently. That's because you're changing the status quo for coworkers, friends, and perhaps even family. (For Star Wars fans, you're causing a disturbance in the Force.) Some will be happy for you; others will reserve judgment and wait to see how your transition might affect them. A few might even exhibit varying degrees of negativity because of what your decision might take away from them: excuses for not progressing in their own careers, the spotlight at work, a desired position, and time together to name a few.
How do you handle such responses? First, be open-minded. Carefully observe your new playing field and make meaningful connections with the people in it. Quietly seek insight into reactions that you observe. Be kind—don't fan flames of negativity. Let people get to know the “new you”—even though they knew you before. Evaluate your responsibilities and prioritize them. Address issues and barriers that emerge the best that you can, but continue your journey forward. Investigate helpful survival strategies, like an upgrade to your computer technology, to enable improved efficiency and productivity. Seek trusted experts who can serve as formal or informal mentors. Commit to being a lifelong learner—take courses to hone skills and expand your knowledge.
Each transition builds a foundation for the next. These endeavors aren't always straightforward, and the path isn't always paved, but the journey is definitely part of the adventure and, ultimately, the road to your destination.
Until next time—
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2014 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.