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How do I deal with leaving bedside?

scrubs-folded-upYou probably became a nurse because you wanted to help people, right? So stepping away from the bedside—even to a much-coveted position—can bring about a host of mixed feelings and self-doubt.

First, allow yourself time to grieve. It’s perfectly natural to feel sad about leaving your old position while feeling excited about the new one. That’s especially true if bedside nursing is “all” you’ve ever done, or if you’re moving on due to physical limitations. Mentally summarizing your time as a bedside nurse (or writing in a journal or talking with a trusted friend) can help you wrap up that chapter of your life, so to speak. Enjoy the going-away parties, if any are given—and if not, consider throwing one for yourself. This is a major milestone in your life and it deserves to be celebrated.

Meanwhile, begin preparing for your new role. That can include everything from shadowing your mentor to shopping for new clothes (if you have an office job, you’re probably not going to be wearing scrubs anymore). Find out everything you can about your new job before starting—job expectations, communication structure, corporate culture, etc.

As for dealing with self-doubt: Fake it ‘til you make it. That doesn’t mean pretending to have skills you lack; it simply means projecting an aura of professionalism and confidence at all times. You may wonder if you’re cut out for the new job, but remember you were hired for a reason. Ask questions if you need to (and you’ll probably need to ask a lot of questions in the beginning), but present yourself with poise. You’re an intelligent, valued member of the healthcare team.

Everyone handles the break from the bedside differently. Some nurses embrace their new direction wholeheartedly, while others want to maintain bedside proficiency as well. If you’re part of the latter group, go for it. Sign on with a staffing agency or your facility’s PRN pool. Read clinical journals and stay on top of the latest clinical findings. Whatever you do, though, make sure your first commitment is to your new job. Even if you’re unsure whether your new position is right for you, try to complete at least a year on the job before making any long-term decisions. With time, you just may find that your new job is completely “you.”

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One Response to How do I deal with leaving bedside?

  1. Nicole, RN

    This article brings to surface an issue that many experienced nurses deal with when they leave the clinical setting and head into the office or administrative roles. I have spoken to some of our experienced nurses who say the transition can be very hard- that they miss the clinical setting but as with all job promotions and transitions, they get used to it and embrace the new role because oftentimes in administrative roles in the hospital, you can still have some patient contact. I also know of some nurses who worked administrative roles for years then transitioned back to the bedside nurse role. I do think the advice the article gives in keeping the bedside proficiency is important because of how quickly nursing practice changes over the course of time.