Staying Positive in Your Nursing Career, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 17

Is nursing and healthcare your professional oyster? Do you want to create your optimal nursing career? Here on Episode 17 of The Nurse Keith Show, I’ll discuss ways to fine tune your attitude so that your optimal career doesn’t seem like such a pipe dream.

positive mind

We all enter the nursing profession for various reasons and with differing motivations. Of course, we need to pay the bills, put the kids through college, or repay our loans, but there are generally deeper motivations underneath our decision to become nurses, right? Some nurses say they want to help people, some want to be of service, and some feel that nursing is a way to give back to society in a tangible way. What was your motivation?

Meanwhile, despite our motivations, there are countless nurses who are unhappy at their jobs. Some may find themselves on the receiving end of bullying, harassment, or intimidation, and some may feel that they’re white-knuckling their way through most every work day. Is this really the end of the line for them? Is there really no joy to be found at this point in their nursing careers?

The Magic Wand

If you had a magic wand and you could create whatever nursing career you could imagine, what would your career look like? Don’t worry about how you’d get there; this is solely about imagining what your nursing career looks like if nursing is indeed your professional oyster.

With no limits imposed on what it might be, what’s your vision of the ultimate nursing career for you at this point in your life, and perhaps for the next five or ten years? What would it be like? What would you like to see and do? What skills or experiences would you like to have? Maybe you’ve always wanted to be comfortable in a high-acuity setting, with bells and alarms, complex patients, high adrenaline, and lots of action. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of sitting at the bedside and providing solace to the dying and their loved ones. It doesn’t matter what you want to do; but it matters that you can picture yourself doing it, and more importantly, loving it.

Visualize It

In your mind, picture your ultimate work environment. Walk through the front door, pretending that you already work there. What does it look like? What colors are the walls, and how are the hallways decorated? What does it smell like? Is it brightly lit? Are there many windows and plants? Do you have an office or desk? What’s your personal work environment like?

When you picture your colleagues in this workplace, what are they like, and how do they treat one another? What’s the culture of the workplace, and what are the values that support that culture? If you sit down in a meeting with your coworkers, is there laughter and kindness? Is there a supportive administration and management team?

Now, hold your first paycheck in your hand. What does that paycheck reflect? What are the hourly wage and benefits?

In terms of schedule, imagine what hours you work and what your weeks are like? Do you have a pleasant commute, and how do you feel when you arrive home after work? Do you look forward to returning the next day?

Your ideal workplace may feel like a dream, but it’s a dream that can be sought after and manifested in your life to some degree, especially if you’re thoughtful and careful about what you really want, and you take inspired action to find it (or create it).

The Positive

While it might sound mind of New Agey to visualize your ideal job and workplace, isn’t it better than continuing to complain about what you don’t have, and how you’ll never find anything better? If you can picture in your mind what you’d like to experience and what your optimal work environment is like, don’t you think it’s much more likely that you’ll put more energy into finding work that might fulfill at least some of your criteria?

If you spend every day muttering to yourself about how terrible your job and coworkers are, how motivated will you be to keep looking, doing some deep networking, and trying to move on to something better, something you deserve? If you’ve already admitted defeat in your nursing career, you’re in a tough spot. So, why not spend time visualizing what you want rather than what you don’t want? You need to believe that you deserve it, believe that it exists, and then tell everyone you know what you’re looking for.

Healthcare and nursing can be a tough. But since most of us have to work to pay the bills and do what we want in our lives, isn’t it preferable to put most of our energy into manifesting something that’s satisfying and makes us happy?

If your keep your eyes on the prize—even if it’s the prize of a nursing job that seems beyond your reach at the moment—maybe that prize will be that much easier to bring to fruition.

When you meet with colleagues and tell them about who you are and what you want, they’ll be more willing to help you if you excitedly tell them about all the things you’re excited about, instead of the things that make you miserable. You want to be seen as a forward-thinking, positive and enthusiastic person, and this is the type of energy that will motivate people to help you achieve your goals and manifest your vision.

Let’s face it, which type of nurse colleague would you be more willing to introduce to key people at your facility? A colleague who complains and moans about how horrible his job is and how he hates his coworkers and assignments and needs to escape, or a nurse colleague who excitedly tells you all about the type of nursing she wants to do, and how much she wants to meet like-minded people who can help her to fulfill her vision?

On this podcast—and on my blog, Digital Doorway—I’ve mentioned informational interviews, the savvy uses of Linked In, the importance of networking, and other tools that are important for your nursing career. Finding mentors is also something to bear in mind. If you want to move into nursing management but don’t know where to begin, start with finding a nurse manager with whom you can conduct an informational interview. This could be just a one-time conversation, or it could develop into a wonderful mentoring opportunity for you both.

Find It or Create It

If you want to be happy in your work as a nurse, it’s up to you to get out there and find what you want. Some workplaces are simply negative and unsatisfying, whereas others are happy, supportive, and warm.

At the home health agency where I serve as Chief Nursing Officer, our nurses say that we’ve created the most positive, convivial, transparent, welcoming, warm, and satisfying work environment that they’ve ever experienced. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but we work at it every day. Even as we continue to grow, part of our strategic plan is to make sure that our positive company culture is maintained and improved every step of the way. Does that sound like something you want in your workplace?

Anything is possible, and everyone has some pearls out there in the deep, blue ocean of nursing potential. It’s up to you to find where yours are hiding, and if you can’t find them, build your own from scratch.

Positive, supportive, and wonderful work environments for nurses do exist, especially when thoughtful people like us demand them and create them. And if you want a nursing career that’s satisfying and fun, it’s really up to you to create it, attract it, and recruit the support of others who can help you get there.

Now, wave your magic wand and get to work creating what you want!

The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by James Larson, and social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!

Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!


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

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

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 New Service,, 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.


Staying Positive in Your Nursing Career, The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 17 — 14 Comments

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