Returning to Bedside Nursing: A Shift in Perspective
Why I Left the Bedside
I wasn’t looking to leave my staff position of almost 5 years on an Adult Oncology Unit, but I felt a pull when I learned about an opportunity to help grow the Nurse Advocate team at Trusted. I wondered if my nursing education and career experience would be enough to qualify me to sit around a table with tech entrepreneur masterminds. Bedside nursing was all I knew and I wanted to push myself to acquire new skills. I left knowing that I would miss my team of nurses and the patients I cared for, yet I was unsure if I would ever (or could ever) return to the bedside.
My time at Trusted as a Nurse Advocate was a period of exponential self and career growth. I was pleasantly surprised that the skills I acquired at the bedside had somehow prepared me for a fast-paced growing startup company, thus proving that bedside nurses have the skills necessary to market themselves for jobs beyond the bedside. Similar to when I was a new nurse learning time management skills on the unit, I learned how to structure my days working remotely to ensure I got my work done in a timely manner. I learned that unread emails were my new call bells. I learned how to communicate effectively with my team and how to help my team remotely. I learned how to write emails, participate and lead virtual meetings, and how to quickly formulate relationships over the phone. I gained hiring skills as I interviewed potential team members and assisted in making hiring decisions.
Why I Returned to the Bedside
Coming back to my previous hospital at the beginning of the pandemic was not part of my plan, but adjusting and overcoming is something that I learned fast within both my hospital and tech roles! As nurses we are forever learning, and I jumped back into patient care with this mindset. Relearning skills and new procedures kept me humble and inquisitive. I experienced the joy of getting that beautiful flash during an IV insertion and the nervous feeling of hanging chemotherapy with a high chance of anaphylaxis reaction as if it were my first time. I had my fair share of fumbles as well – I remember accidentally giving out a provider’s phone number to a patient’s family member and forgetting the fastest way to the CT scanner – oops! Chemotherapy regimens that I could once recite in my sleep I had to relearn and those anxious butterflies returned the first time I shaved a patient’s head. Relearning nursing skills and finding my clinical judgement confidence again reignited the passion and curiosity I had when I first started my nursing career.
Despite returning to bedside nursing in the most challenging of times, I returned with a new perspective. I quickly adjusted back to shift work and the sweet, sweet phenomenon of weekday days off. I found joy again in my shifts doing all I could for my patients and my nursing team in 12 hours and then clocking out and not thinking about it. I developed a newfound appreciation of how shift work helps in separating work from personal life. Taking time away from clinical nursing refilled my cup of patience – I was burned out and did not realize until I stopped working bedside. However, I returned back to the bedside with newfound joy and fulfillment in the simple yet equally important tasks of the job I once found tedious such as changing linen, refilling ice waters, and tidying up rooms. I started incorporating a mindfulness practice into my shifts and my days off. I previously had been a hard pass on night shift, yet I found myself open to adding nights to my schedule to experience a different workflow and work with new coworkers.
What I've Learned Since Returning
Taking time away from bedside nursing helped me realize that I love patient care. I missed forming relationships with my primary patients and collaborating with my team of nurses about sick patients. However, my time at Trusted advocating for nurses sparked an interest in me to continue finding opportunities to advocate for nurses in the clinical environment. My experience of getting outside of my comfort zone and working in the tech world inspired me to say yes to joining our Unit Council and later transitioning to the Chair position. I even incorporated some of the meeting organization tools I learned at Trusted to my Unit Council meetings such as Asana and Google Forms. I returned to the bedside with the same stretching mindset that I used in the tech world. I am finding opportunities at my hospital I previously overlooked such as a mentorship program and continuing education opportunities. At Trusted, I learned how our team decisions were guided by the company’s mission, and I find myself now returning to my own nursing career mission. Instead of going through the motions of my shifts, I now try to think more about the purpose, the ‘why’ of my work.
There are so many opportunities away from the bedside to grow as a nurse and as a person. It is important to remember that once a nurse, always a nurse. Just because you take a job away from the bedside does not mean that you now refer to yourself as a nurse in the past tense. Taking time away from patient care may just change your perspectives and stretch your mindset of what you are capable of achieving within nursing!
Ready to get back to bedside nursing?
If you're looking to dip your toes back into the bedside nursing life, travel nursing is a great short-term way to feel it out again. Trusted has thousands of open jobs that get updated in real-time with full details on pay packages so you can browse before you commit! When you create a profile, you'll get matched with jobs that meet all of your requirements, and you can move through the process at your own pace!
Looking to explore your journey beyond the bedside?
- Careers at Trusted
- Nurse Burnout: What Is It and What Can We Do About It?
- How to Market Your Nursing Skills
Nursing Jobs Beyond the Bedside (Pt. 1): What Else Is Out There?
- Nursing Jobs Beyond the Bedside (Pt. 2): Advance Your Degree, Advance Your Career
- Nursing Jobs Beyond the Bedside (Pt. 3): Nursing Careers on the Fringes