You’ve passed the NCLEX and are enthusiastically searching for your first nursing job. Should you work med/surg for a few years or jump straight into a specialty? Or maybe you’ve been a nurse for years and feel completely burnt out, wanting to do something else with your training and experience, but what?
Today’s nursing job market can be hard to navigate because of variable employment opportunities, rapidly evolving technologies, and expectations of applicants that didn’t exist even a few years ago (we’re looking at you, BSN requirements). However, as the nursing discipline grows and develops, there are fresh possibilities for career paths, entrepreneurship, and positions in niche markets. There is also an increasing number of mentoring and personal development outlets for new nurses to gain skills and confidence as they begin their careers. With so many exciting new nurse avenues, direction and advice from an objective expert can be helpful. Enter career coaching for nurses.
What is a nursing career coach?
Career coaches work to help people evaluate where they are in their careers and determine where they want to be in the future. Coaches then assist them in outlining a path with specific steps and action items to achieve these goals. While generalized career coaches can offer valuable advice, nursing is a unique field and requires the understanding and experience of coaches who have also worked as nurses and understand the dynamics of the profession.
Nursing career coaches are nurses who have expertise in career management and development, especially within the healthcare system. Some are board certified as nurse coaches through the American Holistic Nurses Association, while others draw from their job experience and continuing education that has maximized their skills in their own careers. These coaches can benefit nurses at any stage on the spectrum, from new nurse graduates to nurses in the latter stages of their careers who are looking to make a change.
How can career coaches help nurses?
Nurse career coaches understand the healthcare system as well the demands and nuances in nursing. They are experts not only in career and personal development but also in the nursing scope of practice. This puts them in a unique position to help nurses think outside the box and find novel ways to use their education, clinical skills, and patient care experience.
Some nurses seek out career coaches to help them find and prepare for new positions or brush up on career-related skills. Others, like new nurse graduates, simply need extra mentorship and coaching to gain their licenses and feel confident and competent in their first nursing roles.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, of NurseKeith.com, is a well-known registered nurse, blogger, podcaster, writer, and board-certified nurse coach who works with nurses from varied backgrounds. “I coach across what I call the nurse career lifespan,” says Carlson, “from nursing students just getting out of school trying to figure out what they’re doing, to older nurses who are coming into the profession from another career. Some people come to me because they want to make a transition, but they don’t know what to transition to. Others know exactly the transition they want but they don’t know how to do it. They might feel their resume isn’t strong enough, they don’t know how to use LinkedIn, or they don’t know how to network.”
Tiffany Gibson, BSN, RN-BC, CPN, a longtime pediatric nurse, and nurse educator, created New Nurse Academy to bolster confidence in new nurses through NCLEX test prep and an online mentorship and residency program. She is concerned that nursing schools are primarily teaching to the state boards instead of helping students translate their knowledge into their jobs as new nurses.
“Nurses pass the NCLEX, but then they get real-life patients and are still dumbfounded about what to do,” Gibson says. “It’s a whole new world. I want to be a mentor, to guide them, and to help smooth out that transition from nurse to professional.”
Nurse coaches provide a range of services based on individual needs. This could include basics like optimization of resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills, but many coaches also offer extended mentoring sessions that cover a range of career-related subjects. In her online residency program, Gibson conducts weekly video meetings with novice nurses to discuss practical questions in nursing as well as broader themes like nursing philosophy and ways to develop both confidence and competency in practice. She also helps nurses of all levels of experience define their career goals and interests when searching for a new position.
How to find a nursing career coach
Nurse career coaching is a relatively new field, but it’s growing rapidly. Here are a few tips on where to find a mentor or coach to help you shape your dream nursing career:
- Search LinkedIn to find registered nurses who are working as career coaches or ask for referrals through your own network.
- Visit directories listed on sites of organizations like the American Nurses Association, the American Holistic Nurses Association, and the National Nurses Business Association.
- Tune into podcasts like the Nurse Keith Show and explore entrepreneurial sites like New Nurse Academy.
Career coaching with Incredible Health
All nurses on Incredible Health have access to a dedicated talent advocate who is also an RN. Talent advocates are like free career coaches who help nurses through every stage of their job search. Just create a profile on Incredible Health to get started.
At Incredible Health, we believe nurses deserve better, so we’ve assembled a team of Talent Advocates to support you through the hiring process. They’re basically your personal career coach. Talent Advocate Molly shares her tips for tackling the job hunt. Get to know her story, and learn how our Talent Advocates can help you make your next career move.
Tell us about yourself.
I started working in the ER in Baltimore after graduating from nursing school. I decided to move to Mexico after going on vacation and meeting my husband. In addition to helping nurses create a career they love, I own a small organic reef-safe sunscreen business.
What got you into nursing?
I got into nursing because I wanted to do something that would help make a difference in people’s lives. When I started working with individuals with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries, I realized that I had an interest in the medical field and found it very rewarding.
How would you describe your job as a Talent Advocate?
As a Talent Advocate, I help nurses through the interview process, beginning with interview preparation for their first phone interviews. I help them keep track of where they are in multiple stages of the process with different hospitals. Many hospitals have different procedures and it can become overwhelming to navigate it all! I offer support and feedback all the way until they receive an offer, helping them weigh the pros and cons to ultimately find the best job for them. I love it! It is very fulfilling to be able to assist and alleviate some of the nervousness and unknowns that happen when applying for jobs.
What do you love most about your job?
My favorite part of the job is telling candidates that they will be receiving an offer. There was one nurse who cried happy tears when I told her and thanked me for changing her life! I frequently hear from nurses: “I couldn’t have done this without you.”
What’s the most common thing nurses ask you?
The most common question I get from nurse candidates is “Can you help me with salary negotiation?” Often candidates think it comes down to only the hourly salary. While that is certainly a motivating factor, I encourage them to take other aspects into account, such as the location, benefits, sign-on bonus, and loan forgiveness.
What’s one thing you want nurses to know?
My biggest advice to nurses in the job hunt is to remember the reason you became a nurse and remain confident during the interview process.