See the current issue of Scrubs Magazine

Should there be a for nurses?

Polka Dot | Jupiterimages | Getty Images + iStockphoto

Ever had a nurse get hired to your unit only to notice, after some time, that s/he is just not a good fit for the specialty itself? There may be nothing worse than a “stuck” nurse!

I wonder if there should be a “specialty-match” assessment of some sort that nurses could take pre-employment. Kind of like an online dating profile, it would put you in a specialty perfectly suited to who you are. Reality is that not all specialties attract the same personalities. And just thinking that because you or I are a good fit in one area does not mean we could just work anywhere in the hospital and have a perfect match.

For example, I love L&D. Really, I don’t think I could work anywhere else. But sometimes I have dreams of going to the ED. I was an ED tech in nursing school and miss that kind of adrenaline. But I think I would burn out in ED. My visions are of the ED being one way, yet in fact I know it is a really tough specialty and I probably don’t have the personality for it, being the sensitive person that I am. Know thyself, and all of that. So I stay in the specialty that miraculously fits me quite well. I got lucky.

Then there are my nursing school friends who, four years out, are stuck in specialties they hate. But we nurses become so highly-specialized, it becomes almost impossible to move around within the system.

So what does the unit do when a nurse shows up who just isn’t “cut out” for the specialty? In my experience, things can get really ugly. Doctors act out, nurses act out, patients complain—it seems that when a person gets rooted in a specialty that they hate, and that hates them, things are miserable for everyone. And if the nurse doesn’t see the problem—they become convinced they can make it work—everyone is at a loss. And face it, it is difficult to fire someone, move them to another unit, etc. Change does not come easily in the hospital.

The result of a “stuck nurse” is that they become unhappy (or oblivious), their co-workers are unhappy, and ultimately the patients get stuck with a nurse who just is not up to par for that specialty. I hate watching it! Yes, eventually it pans out, but usually in a negative way. I’ve seen it go on for years. Nurses who end up in this situation often make mistakes, burn-out, get angry and explosive, and everyone suffers. Nurses will even change professions just to get out.

It seems there should be a better way than just “guessing” to match up nurses and specialties. Until we find that way, things will continue to be difficult for nurses who are not a “fit” on their floor.

, , ,

Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

Post a Comment

You must or register to post a comment.

3 Responses to Should there be a for nurses?

  1. Jeanie

    I agree with the article. I went from 2 years as new grad in Telemerty nurse, to the ER for 13 years then became “burned out”. I then went to ICU for the next 13 years. I was then well prepared for the next career move, Travel Nurse. I love the 8 years I traveled, working ICU, ER, MS and even a stint as “house float”. In my 37 year career have met so many nurses in the “wrong” specialty. It seems during our education proces we would have a way to define our specialty.

  2. Brenda Harper

    I work on an adolescent psych unit and I love my job,unfortunately a lot of people come to the unit with very idealistic expectations of what they will do for our kids. One of the best thing our hospital and manger have done is instigate a “shadowing ” program where people can come on the floor for 4 hrs before being hired (no pay) and decide whether it is actually a good fit for them. We have had a few that said no I don’t think so and it is an excellent even if not perfect way to get good “matches”

  3. Lee Ann

    went to PN school in upstate NY, where all the LPNs are floor nurses, and RNs are paper nurses. I moved to colorado before my NCLEX and went to a nearby hospital to find out that LPNs are not hired for hospitals in Colorado. So my next option was long term care. I walked in the door, one guy was peeing on the floor, one lady was shrieking in the dining room and I thought, “OMG what have I gotten myself into?” within a few days, I found that I love LTC. I get to know the residents, their families, their hopes and dreams, and I get to love and care for them until they leave us, either for home, or the great beyond. They know me, we have funny jokes between us, I know what they like and don’t like. I worked med surge in the hospital for a year and I get nervous having new patients all the time. so I am right where I am supposed to be. I’m now too old and medically having problems, so I am not going to go back to school. I have eight years until I retire.