Working a job you enjoy doesn't only benefit you. When you feel fulfilled, you're more successful and productive — and your employers and patients benefit too. Two key factors to consider when searching for a job are the work environment and the work conditions. Is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it conducive to learning? Full of people you enjoy? If so, you're in for a long and happy career.
A positive work environment for nurses results in increased job satisfaction, reduced turnover and better patient outcomes. And because your nursing degree offers so much versatility, you have a variety of options for finding a healthy work environment that fits your skills, career goals and personality.
Nurses work in various care settings such as hospital systems, long-term care facilities and healthcare clinics. If you're looking to build your resume or develop new skills to highlight in your cover letter (do both using our Resume Templates and Cover Letter Templates), your interests, strengths, and work style should play a role in determining the right work environment for you. Tailor your application materials to each position for which you apply and highlight how your unique skills make you an ideal fit for their work environment.
To determine which nursing environment is the best fit for you, ask yourself these seven questions:
1. What kind of environment do you want to work in?
As we mentioned, you can't deny the importance of a healthy work environment. We in our lifetimes, and that's not counting overtime. Job satisfaction contributes to your overall mental and physical health. Work conditions for nurses can vary based upon the work environment you choose. Take time to consider what's important to you in a work environment. Depending on your preferences and where you are in your career, those priorities may include:
- Opportunities for promotion
- Fast-paced work environment
- Autonomy and independence
- Working within a specific patient age group
2. How much responsibility do you want?
Nurses generally take on a lot of responsibility regardless of their environment. If you choose to work in a clinic or smaller community facility, you might have fewer coworkers with whom to share the load. But that independence also provides you plenty of opportunities to prove you're an autonomous self-starter. Consider the kind of role you see yourself in. Maybe it's a nurse leader or a supporting nursing staff member. Also, think about whether you feel comfortable making independent decisions or if you prefer to collaborate with other nursing personnel.
3. What kind of pace do you enjoy?
To maintain a healthy work environment in nursing and avoid additional stress, consider the pace at which you want to work. If you prefer a fast-paced environment, you may thrive in a hospital environment or a busy emergency department. A clinic might be a better choice if you prefer a slower pace, while a long-term care facility's pace can vary depending on shift, staffing and patient needs.
4. What type of patient relationship do you prefer?
Working in a long-term care facility often means assisting patients who require chronic care. Their ongoing needs offer opportunities to develop longer-term relationships and provide one-on-one attention. Depending on the type of clinic or community facility you work in, you may also have regular patients with whom you build relationships. On an acute care unit or hospital floor, your patient relationships will likely be short-term ones.
5. How much experience do you have? Are you looking to develop?
Hospitals and long-term care facilities are excellent places to build and develop your foundational nursing skills. A long-term care facility lets you improve upon a variety of nursing and interpersonal skills while caring for patients with chronic illness and an array of needs. Hospital environments offer the chance to care for patients in different units. This will enable you to gain valuable experience and determine if you'd like to choose a nursing specialty. You can use those skills and experiences to build a resume that proves you're an ideal candidate for a specialized role.
6. What kind of schedule do you prefer?
A clinic may offer a more consistent schedule and a steady paycheck. Long-term care facilities and hospitals, on the other hand, require staffing coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to maintain a safe environment in nursing coverage and care. This schedule can be challenging if you work rotating shifts, overtime, or have to cover your share of holidays. However, you may prefer a nontraditional schedule to cut childcare costs or allow you more time with family. Another positive to this type of program is the ability to earn more money with shift differentials or increased pay on holidays.
7. Do you want to pursue a nursing specialty?
If you already have basic nursing skills and want to specialize, consider which nursing specialty you're interested in, and what environment will gain you the most knowledge. A long-term care facility might provide experience in areas like geriatrics or psychiatric care. A clinic or hospital, on the other hand, might allow you to develop specific expertise in areas such as pediatrics or obstetrics.
8. Choose what works for you . . . and your life
When considering your workplace goals, be realistic about what works with your lifestyle right now. If you find a job that looks good on paper but doesn't suit your current schedule or personal needs, you won't last long. Once you find your ideal work environment, you'll thrive in your career and enjoy coming to work each day.
Thinking about moving to a more positive work environment? Already in a healthy work environment and looking to step up your career? Either way, our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder with easy-to-use templates and guides will help you convey why you're the best nurse for the job you want.