Eyeing the Slow Lane?

As I consider retirement, I am struck by several competing emotions….How do I feel productive without making any income? What will I do with my time? Shouldn’t I be older or disabled to retire now? What will people think? Have I worked enough? When the airplane I was on recently slid off the runway, none of that mattered. However, it is a good idea to evaluate your situation thoroughly before deciding how to move forward.

Do you want to slow down? Have less stress? Have more personal time? Enter the twilight of your career? If job related stress is making you crazy, what are your choices? If you cannot quit your job all together, you may feel stuck. But, there are alternatives. According to Dennis Nishi, plenty of professionals are scaling back on their workload or ceding management responsibility (WSJ.com, 2010). You have choices, even when you feel stuck. Start by considering:

  • How you evaluate goals and measure your personal success? A successful career does not have to include 60 hour per weeks. Consider how you can work your job around your home life. What does that look like for you? There are routes to advancement or continuing your career within healthcare that will satisfy your personal need for more time, less travel or pursuit of a hobby.
  • Can you accept the idea and results that you are limiting your career ambition? Who you are is not what you do. You need to integrate what is most important to you into your life first; then work other things, like your job around that.
  • Are you willing to boss others less? If you downscale as a manager, you can apply skills to a position that doesn’t require overseeing employees. If you have proved yourself to your facility/industry and provide something valuable to the organization, moving to a role with fewer direct reports will not be viewed negatively, unless you present it that way.
  • Are you willing to tell the truth and be upfront about your decision? Whatever you decide to do, it is important to communicate your intentions and plans in a way that demonstrates your commitment to the facility/company, organization and industry. Explain why a different position is a good fit and have a frank discussion/dialog about why you want to make the downward move. Always play to your strengths.
  • Have you prepared your finances? It is crucial that you take time to plan financially before making changes that impact your salary. Plan your savings strategies, budget and expenses around the new income level before you make the change.
  • Are you willing to think ahead? If you change your mind about the downward move, you will not be harming your career. You can spin the decision positively when you apply for new positions. Tell the interviewers what has changed and why you are ready to “get back on the track.”

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN


About Turner Healthcare
As CEO and founder of the consulting firm, Turner Healthcare Associates, Inc. since 1993, Dr. Turner continuously implements the skills gleaned from over thirty five years of experience in the healthcare field. She began her career as a registered nurse in a Critical Care Unit and Emergency Department. She has served in top management roles, including Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, for various hospitals throughout Southern California. Dr. Turner was also appointed the first Statewide Nursing Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Dr. Turner is an Associate Professor for the UCLA Graduate School of Nursing, Moorpark Community College, and has served as the Health Career expert for Monster.com for six years. Currently, Dr. Turner provides career coaching, planning, and advisement. She specializes in helping young adults seeking healthcare careers and individuals in transition, such as older RNs. In addition to her Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing from Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, she holds a Master's Degree in Nursing from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master's of Business Administration from California Lutheran University. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Business Administration from California Southern University. Her doctoral dissertation discussed the ramifications of clinical re-engineering of nursing services in the 1990’s. Dr. Turner is the author of numerous articles in national healthcare journals as well as the “The Nurse’s Guide to Managed Care,” and “The Nursing Career Planning Guide,” both published by Jones-Bartlett.

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