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What Causes Career Stagnation For Nurses And How To Overcome It?

Career Stagnation For Nurses

If there’s anything worse than unemployment, it’s career stagnation. Stagnation in a career is the state of being consistently demotivated at work to the point of wanting to quit. But how can career stagnation be worse than having no job at all? Now, a job that constantly consumes you from inside, isolates you from the world, exhausts you, and makes you frequently upset or angry isn’t worth the money you’re getting. Also, having no job will give you some time to discover your passion or seek more opportunities – if you make the effort of finding one, that is. 

Regardless, given the nature of the routine work, nurses can experience career stagnation pretty soon. Sure, healthcare jobs can be exhilarating, but the tasks you perform as a nurse are more or less the same daily. Plus, understaffing and long shifts don’t make things any better. It can also become demotivating to work day and night and see doctors walk away with all the credit. None of this has a positive impact on a nurse’s career, and, as a result, they stagnate professionally.

But it can all be fixed. Listed below are some ways nurses experience career stagnation and how they can turn that around.

  1. Limited growth opportunities

While nurses form an integral part of the healthcare system, their roles are usually limited to carrying out the doctors’ instructions and helping out in treatment. Some nurses may be content with that, but for those who dream of professional growth, the opportunities in a healthcare facility are pretty limited. After all, there aren’t many promotions to look forward to.

However, it’s not a dead end. Nurses who wish to grow and avoid career stagnation can acquire higher education and eventually step into managerial, leadership, and entrepreneurial roles. So, consider enrolling in an advanced degree program to jump over this roadblock. If you’re already working and struggling to manage time, consider enrolling in an online nursing masters degree and create a flexible learning schedule. A masters degree will increase your know-how and allow you to specialize in a particular area of nursing care to diversify your career

  1. Difficult living conditions 

Every job in the healthcare sector is tiring. However, while doctors get to sit back and relax after meeting with their patients or performing surgeries, nurses do all the work behind the curtains. Their job shifts can go up to 36 hours straight with very brief or no breaks at all. Not being able to manage home and profession simultaneously keeps them from prospering in their job.

The solution here is to consider a realistic schedule. Extra money during late shifts might seem compelling but only sign up for it if you have the strength to do it. Invest your time in self-care and learn to say no to things when you have too much on your plate. Just because you’re a nurse does not mean you need to be there for everyone all the time. Also, it would help to ask close friends and family to help you out with things such as picking the kids from soccer practice, babysitting, or looking after a sick relative.

  1. Lack of recognition and appreciation

While doctors are the magicians who perform magic tricks and get applauded, nurses are the assistants who do all the work and get little to no credit. Consistent lack of appreciation can make you mentally exhausted. Your brain starts to slow your body down as it fails to sense any positive energy.

While you can’t force your coworkers or executives to appreciate you, what you can do is focus on appreciating yourself. Remember, you are your only competition. Reward yourself for completing small tasks. If you want to be surrounded by a casual environment, start the chain of appreciation and recognition yourself. Compliment a fellow nurse on their work, congratulate people for small things, and do it in such a manner so that your seniors notice and begin to do the same. Even if the culture doesn’t persist, at least you’ll feel good about yourself.

  1. Lack of skills 

In this fast-paced world, anyone who is not living in the present is missing several opportunities. By the time you realize you need to be living in the future, it’s too late. Not being acquainted with technology can lead you to stagnate and can also cost you your job too. In addition, not possessing a full range of soft and critical skills can also affect your performance, reputation, and growth in your career.

What you can do is always be on the run to learn new skills. Attend workshops, particularly for nursing. Always think five years ahead of yourself. Earn certifications that look good on your resume. These could be anything from acquiring new tech-based skills or even a second language to increase your cultural competency.

  1. Unfair treatment 

Unfair treatment is by far the most upsetting factor to pull nurses back from giving their best at work. In some cases, doctors escape with the credits. In other cases, it’s authoritative nurses not letting others progress. Unfair treatment can be mentally painful and highly agitating. The only way to avoid being a victim is to report such cases to your healthcare facility’s HR department or employee grievance committee. You’ll have to build your case with proof of what you claim. Turning a blind eye to unfair treatment can also halt your growth in the organization. 

  1. Your performance has plateaued 

It is difficult to accept it, but no one performs as well in their job as they did in their initial days. Sure, you may never have had negative remarks from your seniors, or you may never have called in sick. Still, meeting bare minimum expectations isn’t the only thing that will get you flying high in your career. Performing beyond what’s expected of you will.

Pay close attention to feedback from coworkers. Always look up to your nurse manager to review your work at the end of the month. Make room for improvement. Watch your diet and keep energy levels up to pull through the day without burning out. 


Nurses are heroes who wear scrubs instead of capes. However, they’re rarely given the appreciation that they deserve. Career stagnation can cost you your entire career. Quitting should be your last choice as the world needs healthcare workers now more than ever. This article highlights a few reasons why you, as a nurse, can experience stunted growth in your career and what you can do to overcome such hurdles. Follow these tips to the T, and you’ll reach new professional heights in no time. 

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