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.Â 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.