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Are You Ready to Take a Risk in Your Nursing Career?

Are You Ready to Take a Risk in Your Nursing Career?

Have you ever felt that your career needed a jolt of adrenaline? Have you ever sensed that you’re too comfortable and complacent and things need to get shaken up? In our nursing and healthcare careers, we risk becoming too complacent when we’ve been settled into the same job, facility, specialty, or area of expertise for a long time. Things can sometimes get stale and repetitious, with few opportunities for growth and renewal.

Change can be risky, and the unknown can be scary. Even so, are you at the point where you’re ready to take a risk?

The Magnetic Pull of Change

Sometimes, we fear change, sometimes we long for change despite the fear, and sometimes, we don’t even know we need it.

But change can be an essential driver of new thoughts and ideas, inspiration, and creative problem-solving, and it can sometimes open doors that we didn’t even know were there.

Some people feel the attraction of change and welcome it with open arms; others might resist change with every fiber of their being.

For example, an ED nurse with 18 years of experience knows she needs a change. She’s excellent at what she does but has the sense deep down that there’s something more. She loves working with patients struggling with mental health issues; even her colleagues can see she has a gift. After six months of research, conversation, and soul-searching, she enrolls in a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program, works in a mental health practice run by a group of NPs and MDs, and feels she found her true calling.

If you’re a nurse or healthcare professional who feels like something is missing and hungry for something new, you may feel the magnetic pull of change tugging on your stethoscope. Will you take a risk like this nurse and exercise your curiosity?

The Benefits of Risk-Taking

The ED nurse above took a risk. She knew something had to give, and she used an open mind to explore an area of nursing that fascinated her. Even though she had almost 20 years in the ED under her belt and knew she couldn’t just put her nose to the grindstone and work several more decades in the ED without possibly feeling regretful that she missed the boat on a more exciting road despite the risks to get there.

Are there benefits to not taking risks? Indeed, going back to school is a big deal, and you might not like the program you choose, so doing nothing can feel safer. We always hope we’ll be happy and that borrowing money for an advanced degree will pay off, but we can only know so much in advance. This is the nature of risk; sometimes, we want to avoid going there.

But what if we take that risk? Sometimes, our lives can change amazingly when we do something that leads us to color outside the lines.

There is a risk-benefit ratio to everything we do: having a baby, getting married, going to school, buying a house, taking a new job, moving to a new city. Whether we take that leap or not dictates the shape of our life in the days and years ahead.

Ultimately, we can ask if the potential benefits outweigh the risks; we can only know once we get there. That is the ultimate challenge of risk-taking.

The Tightrope of Change

To risk or not to risk, that is the proverbial question.

  • Do you take that new job with the hope that it will be a better fit?
  • Should you enroll in that graduate or doctoral program?
  • Do you apply for that leadership position?
  • Should you submit your application for that fellowship?

There are no easy answers, and a calculated risk is just that: a calculation. Our brains have both inhibitory and excitatory cells that govern risk-taking behavior, and the inhibitory cells are said to be more numerous as we age. Many of us might settle into our lives and not want to change.

Overcoming our inhibitions and stepping onto the tightrope of change isn’t easy, and not all risks pay off in the end. But if your career needs a jolt of novelty, a calculated risk may be just what you need to ignite a new path.

Turn to mentors, research, ask questions, be curious, and remain open to possibility. Who knows? That next risk could be the choice that opens an exciting new avenue to personal and professional fulfillment.