Changing lanes

Nelly, Registered Nurse
Experienced nurse Nelly discusses how changing her perception of her skills and abilities led her on a new career path.

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I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years. I always loved the challenge and reward of clinical work. I’ve spent time in a management position gained skills in my chosen specialty, in management and the realisation of broader organizational goals. Over time, though, what I wanted out of my profession changed. I wasn’t ready for retirement, but I was very ready for a change.

I was always clear about wanting to be a nurse, but in hindsight, all through the development of my career — being a student, gaining experience post-graduation, choosing a specialty and pursuing my goals — I had never thought a lot about nor seen many examples of a planned, well thought out transition to retirement. Was that because most nurses just worked until they physically couldn’t function anymore? Was it perhaps because their careers were enmeshed with their identity? Did they fear financial insecurity?

As much as I felt I needed to, I lacked the imagination or energy to change. I couldn’t visualize alternatives. I remember the restlessness and disappointment that defined that period. In hindsight, I could have been kinder to myself. How? Well, I wasn’t open-minded around what I could do as a nurse. I kept searching vacancies in my specialty area. I was disappointed with the results and stayed stuck in an unrewarding job.

Acknowledging the skills I had gained over my career and rebuilding my self-worth enabled me to embrace change. I am surprised and grateful to people I knew who suggested jobs they thought I could do. Their suggestions differed from my own perceptions and my earlier experience of nursing.

Other people can often offer valuable insight into a career change: they can be mentors, coaches, colleagues, friends, family or counsellors. Listening to others can provide insight and inspiration.

When my current role came up, at first I thought I wasn’t qualified to do it. However, I had some skills required for the role and the capacity to learn others with time and attention. My job has proved rewarding in both learning new skills and opening my mind to how roles in nursing can be diverse and challenging.

A nursing career encompasses lifelong learning and adaptability. It nurtures curiosity and the art and science of helping others. In the twilight of your nursing career, ensuring your skills are passed on to ensure the future of the profession is as important as at any stage in your working life. Acknowledging the value of your skills and experience can enable you to plan for retirement with a sense of accomplishment and ease.

If you're considering making changes to your career and you need to talk, our service provides free and confidential support 24/7. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.