My experience with career transition

Mark Aitken, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Nurse & Midwife Support
Nurse & Midwife Support Stakeholder Engagement Manager Mark Aitken tells his own story of career transition in his 30-year nursing career.

Decorative image: Young midwife

Since Nurse & Midwife Support started in March 2017 we have heard from nurses and midwives wanting information and support on how to change their career or do a different job while remaining in their profession.

Many nurses and midwives I meet on my travels talk about their careers and are curious about how I landed such a great job!

Like many nurses and midwives, my career has had many twists and turns. I’d like to say I planned every stage, but that would stretch the truth! Sometimes I followed my passion for work I wanted to do, and at other times someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to take on a role. I have regretted none of my decisions and have had a varied and interesting career. The one constant has been that I have always remained a nurse.

If you had asked me 30 years ago what my career would look like, I would have said my goal was to be a great nurse doing interesting work, contributing to quality patient care and supporting my colleagues. And that is what I have achieved.

30 years ago, I did not know what a Stakeholder Engagement Manager did, I’m not sure someone had thought the title up!

Nurses and midwives do interesting and varied work and there are many career choices and opportunities in the field. How do you get that dream job? How do you take that step into the unknown to do something new?

My approach has been to find a mentor. I have identified people that I admire in the profession, tapped them on the shoulder and asked if I could buy them a coffee and have a chat about their career pathway and how they got to where they are.

They have been generous, supportive and given me great advice. They usually bought me the coffee! Many have become friends and continue to give me guidance on my career.

Now I enjoy buying my colleagues coffee and providing career advice and mentorship.

Career transition requires planning and careful thought. You don’t want to take a spontaneous leap and regret your decision. Sometimes it requires more study or you may take a pay cut but do more fulfilling work or achieve a work-life balance.

Nursing and midwifery provide us with a broad range of knowledge, skills and experience transferrable to widely varied jobs.

Assessment, planning, coordination and completion of multiple tasks, problem-solving, reacting to the unexpected, reviewing data, clear thinking and evaluation, communication are among the many skills that are readily transferable to other areas of nursing or midwifery.

Look after yourself and each other. Your health matters!