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Step away from your comfort zone

Murray, Kathleen MSN, RN, CNA

doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000421677.18347.3c
Department: Leadership Q&A

Vice President of Patient Care Services, Baptist Medical Center Downtown, Jacksonville, Fla.

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Q I've been a CNO for the last 10 years, but I'm ready to do something different. Do you have any suggestions for how to leave my comfort zone?

Many people change careers because they no longer find enjoyment in their job or just need a change. Before you go down this path, I highly recommend taking it slow and evaluating if you really want to make a career move now or whether you just need some time off to reenergize. If you truly decide you want a career change, planning for this change will be instrumental to your success and future job enjoyment.

First, you'll need to discuss your intention with your family because this will affect them too. They may need to adjust to a potential decrease in salary, a possible relocation, or a complete change in your schedule.

To decide what your next job might be, you'll need to evaluate what part of your CNO job has kept your interest. If you're struggling with self-evaluation of your leadership passion and strengths, consider completing a reliable online career assessment, which can assist you with identifying a potential new job opportunity. Part of your assessment may include the need to obtain additional education or training, which could take anywhere from several months to several years.

After you've identified some potential job opportunities that interest you, it's important that you spend time researching those opportunities to see what's locally and nationally available. You may need to accept that your current employer may not support your decision to change to a different role within the organization. Most likely, you'll need to switch employers to move out of the CNO role.



Next, update your résumé to highlight your strengths for the job you're pursuing. Send your résumé out to those in your network whom you trust and who may be able to offer you advice and information about a particular opportunity that interests you. Consider broadening your network through your alumni and professional organizations. If a potential opportunity comes your way, do some homework on the organization to determine if it's a good fit for you before you submit your résumé. Your persistence will play a key role in getting interviews.

If you're truly ready to leave the CNO role, you'll need to be open to new prospects, which could range from doing interim work to consulting. You may experience stumbling blocks and second thoughts along the way, but always remember that your decision to pursue a career change can be an extremely positive experience.

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Q I'm not getting anything from my membership in a professional organization, but I keep paying the dues out of guilt. Should I just cancel the membership and be done with it?

With any membership, you get what you put into it. It will be up to you to take advantage of all the benefits offered to you as a member of your professional organization. Make it a ritual to go online to the professional organization's website, start attending its local meetings, and inquire if your facility will financially support your attendance at its national conference.

Understand that professional organizations offer an opportunity for nurses to access information ranging from evidenced-based practice to a network of professional nurses from other facilities facing similar clinical challenges. Here are some examples of the benefits of belonging to a professional organization:

  • subscription to its journal
  • availability of continuing education in your specialty
  • access to standards of care specific to your specialty
  • networking (job opportunities, mentorship)
  • extra perks such as group discounts for insurance.

Clinical practice resources, continuing education, new employment opportunities, and a professional mentor are clearly returns on investment for the dues you pay to continue your membership in your professional organization.

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