Overcoming Resistance in Your Nursing Career, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 87

Resistance is something we all face in our personal lives and our careers, and nurses are no exception. What types of internal resistance do you face when you know that change is needed? On this episode of The Nurse Keith Show, we talk about

resistance to change.

ResistanceIn a blog post on December 12th, 2016, I wrote about resistance to change and how it’s largely based in fear. What initiated the writing of that post was the fact that I was sitting at my desk at home, looking at piles of papers and filing that needed to be done, and I found that I was facing massive resistance to tackling the job. That’s right; even Nurse Keith gets stymied, folks!

If you ask if I actually succeeded in finishing my filing, I’ll have to honestly tell you that I didn’t. Sigh. However, I did clean my desk, reorganize my things, and I set the stage for being able to do my filing without the extra burden of a desk from hell. I was resisting doing this task, and I realized that, yes, resistance is actually a form of fear. What was I afraid of? I’m not sure; maybe getting in over my head? Maybe I was afraid of getting so mired in filing and organizing that I would fall behind on my deadlines? It’s hard to put my finger on it, but that resistance has kept my desk in a state of user-unfriendliness for a while. It looks so much better now (but that pile of papers is still there on the window sill).

Regarding the magical thinking that can sometimes underlie resistance, I wrote the following in the aforementioned blog post:

Many nurses and non-nurses alike can engage in magical thinking at various times throughout their careers. “Oh, I don’t need a BSN; they’ll never close the doors on associate degree nurses.” Or maybe something like this: “Start a business as a nurse entrepreneur? I’ll just tell people I have a business and clients will come to me without much work.”

Magical thinking is everywhere, and you can probably find it if you want to. We can think magically about how our abusive spouse will change “tomorrow”; we can also think magically that we’ll get a promotion without actually asking for it or throwing our hat in the ring.

In my book, magical thinking is a form of resistance, not to mention a form of self-delusion, as well as the delusion of others who trust your opinion and follow your lead.

What if we don't change at all---and something magical just happens? In that post, I also wrote about nurse bullies, and how our resistance to going up against them is absolutely born out of fear. Bullies are often holders of great power, and if we challenge them, they may turn their vitriol on us. However, if we allow a bully to thrive and go unchallenged, our silence in the face of bullying is tacit complicity with such aberrant and damaging behavior. If a bully is making your nursing career a living nightmare—or if that bully is torturing one of your colleagues—how long can you allow your fear and resistance to keep you from taking action?

Stunted career growth is another subject I brought up in that post, and for good reason. On that account, I wrote: 

I’ve spoken with hundreds of nurses over the years, and I’ve seen countless examples of nurses’ career growth and forward trajectory being stymied by nothing other than resistance to change. Sure, exhaustion or ennui can keep you from taking action, but sometimes we just don’t know what to do even though we know that change is necessary.

Our nursing career growth can get stunted for many reasons, and it’s painful to see someone stuck in a job they hate with colleagues they distrust and an endless future of joyless shifts ahead of them; isn’t that just so tragic?

Risk-taking is often part and parcel of making change in our careers, whether we’re nurses or not. We can’t always afford to quit an awful job without the safety net of another job in the wings; but on the other hand, if the stress of our current position is making us literally or figuratively sick, what are the risks of resisting change and eventually getting even sicker? Or what if our practice environment is so dangerous that we continue to risk making a grave error and losing our license? Again, fear can stop us in our tracks, but we can’t always allow it to do so.

Your nursing career mission can very much be an engine that drives change in your career, and when you feel resistance to change within yourself, you can revisit your mission in order to get reinvigorated. I recommend going back and listening to episode 55 of The Nurse Keith Show, as well as reading the show notes. If you feel truly connected to your mission and vision, then making a change and overcoming resistance can be easier. Here’s another blog post excerpt:

The identification and fulfillment of your mission as a nurse is intrinsic to your overall satisfaction with your nursing career. If you’re resisting change—or even resisting your career in general—take a deep dive into your mission, and this may help to reinvigorate your sense of mission and the vision of who you want to be as a nurse and human being.

Your nursing career mission isn’t impossible, it’s inevitable; and your resistance to change, growth, or evolution is likely based in some form of fear. Because what is resistance other than a manifestation of our fear?

Embrace your nursing mission, and if you don’t have one, create one. And if you’re resisting change and feeling stuck, let’s get the Crowbar of Change out of the tool shed and pry your resistance open.

Resistance is indeed a form of fear, so enlist your allies (trusted friends, colleagues, family members, faith leader, coach, counselor, or therapist), and blast through the fear to the other side. Freedom from resistance awaits you.


The episode of the Nurse Keith Show sponsored by StaffGarden, staffgarden.com/nursekeithThis episode of The Nurse Keith Show is brought to you by my friends at StaffGarden, a unique digital healthcare company allowing nurses to create a private online ePortfolio that StaffGarden shares with high-quality employers (with your permission, of course) in order to connect you with the best facilities and positions.

StaffGarden partners with fantastic employers seeking the best candidates in the nursing profession; through powerful partnerships with the recruiters and talent acquisition professionals employed by these healthcare leaders, they deliver your ePortfolio directly to the people who are looking for nurses just like you.

Having a StaffGarden ePortfolio and landing a job with a partnering employer costs you nothing. However, your ePortfolio will get you noticed for positions that you would likely not have access to through traditional ads or job postings.

As a nurse, partnering with StaffGarden adds depth and breadth to your job search process, as well as your exposure to some of the most progressive healthcare employers in the country. Allow SG to work for you and connect you with some of the greatest job opportunities in 21st-century healthcare.

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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith was previously the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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