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Should there be a Match.com for nurses?

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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.

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