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Do I stay, or do I go? How to make the decision whether to stay in your current nursing job or leave

Posted by: Lynn Sedgwick

A new job brings with it new challenges and the opportunity to make a positive change. But what if you’re on the fence about leaving your current role? Deciding whether to stay in a job or to leave is a complex process. For many nursing and care professionals there is a whole range of considerations to make, from skills and experience to organisational culture and working practices.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, the choice has to be an individual one that suits you. That’s why we’ve put together this blog to walk you through important considerations and hopefully to make the decision a little easier for you. 

Weigh up your options

If the possibility of leaving your position is on your mind, it’s useful to start by weighing up your options. The first step is to consider your job role and the organisation generally, and look at all of the positives, followed by all of the negatives. Does it meet your career ambitions, are you achieving your own goals of where you’d like to be now or in the future? When you compare the two lists side by side, does one significantly outweigh the other or is there not much in it?

The next step is to think about your skills and experience: what value can you add? Hands-on experience is a real asset in any care setting and so too are advanced qualifications or specialist knowledge; look for opportunities where your work experience matches up with demand.

Areas where there are particular skills shortages include mental health and social care. According to figures published in the Guardian, mental health suffers more staff shortages than any other area, with up to 20% of mental health nursing posts vacant across London. Similarly, the vacancy rate in social care is notable, with an estimated 76,000 vacancies for care workers at any given time. The population is ageing, and with more people living longer with complex physical needs, as well as mental health concerns such as dementia, the demand for talented individuals in these areas is unlikely to slow down soon. The trick is to research what’s out there, trends that are affecting the health sector generally and your specialism in particular, and how your skill set and interests could fit with the kind of roles that are available.

Don’t forget about skills that aren’t strictly related to the work either. Having managerial experience or administrative skills can be valuable to a potential employer. Digital proficiency is growing increasingly important as technology becomes more prevalent in our working lives, so make sure you highlight these aspects too. Many job seekers also find it beneficial to have a chat with a recruitment consultant as well as doing their own research.

Approaching the end of the year; time for a change?

If the thought of finding a new job is playing on your mind, the start of a new year is the ideal time to make a change. According to HR Magazine, January is the most likely time for employees to start a new job, with nearly a fifth of people (18%) saying that it’s the most popular time to move. If you’re making plans for the future of your career, a new year and a fresh start can give you the impetus to bring the plan into action.

Important considerations

When weighing up whether to leave your job or to stay, there are certain considerations to make that will impact your decision. One of the most common factors that crop up for those in the healthcare profession is the issue of support from their employer. For people in a patient-facing role the pressure to deliver can be intense, especially when considering the added pressure of chronic staff shortages and dealing with the complex needs of an ageing population. And while a challenge can be stimulating, feeling like your employer is not very supportive can be disheartening. For many care professionals this can be a deciding factor on whether to stick with an organisation or to leave. If you feel that you’d be better supported elsewhere, it may make sense in the long term to make a change now.

As well as the big issues, small issues can add up and impact on your decisions. Some of the most important considerations when deciding to stay or go are around ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors.

Push factors are exactly as they sound – things that make you want to look elsewhere. They might include:

  • Doesn’t meet with your career ambitions and goals.
  • Work life balance – are you able to achieve your life goals?
  • Feeling that the work isn’t suited to you, that you are not challenged by it, or that the workload is simply too much.
  • Disagreeing with the overall direction of the organisation.
  • Is the company growing, or does it feel like it’s staid?
  • The general company culture doesn’t fit with your values.

Pull factors are things that draw you to a particular job role or organisation. These might include:

  • Career prospects – is there room for promotion within the organisation?
  • Do they encourage people to learn and develop their skills and experience?
  • Location – would a move mean a shorter commute, for example?
  • Salary – money can be a powerful motivator and a higher salary can be an attractive pull for many people.
  • Benefits – the right benefits package that appeals to you can be very appealing and can give an indication as to how the company treats their staff.
  • Will a move to the new organisation help fulfil your own career plan?

How a recruitment agency can help you decide

A nursing and healthcare recruitment consultant can assist job seekers in a number of ways:

  • Overview of the market: consultants are in constant communication with health organisations of all shapes and sizes across a range of specialisms. They are well versed in what the market looks like currently. Chatting with a consultant will give you a good idea of what’s out there and what real employers are looking for.
  • A fresh perspective: having knowledge of what employers need can help you out, as consultants can encourage you to emphasise skills that you might not have known were sought after. They can also suggest roles that you may have otherwise overlooked, giving you a better chance of finding the ideal job role.
  • Feedback and insight: any recruiter worth their salt will have developed good relationships with their clients over time. They can ask employers for feedback, which candidates can sometimes feel shy or awkward about asking for. This gives you useful insight into how you can improve your interview performance next time.

Decision time

When you’ve weighed up your options, thought about whether the timing is right and considered all of the various push and pull factors, it’s time to make a decision. Your recruitment consultant can listen to your goals, offer words of wisdom and make suggestions. Ultimately, however, they cannot decide which job is right for you – only you can make the decision to stay in or leave a job.

So if you’re feeling a little unsure about what to do, perhaps increasing your awareness of what’s out there will help you decide. Our specialist nursing and healthcare recruitment consultants would be happy to talk through your options – why not give us a call? We’re on 01772 259 121 and would be pleased to hear from you, alternatively you can look at our vacancies online.

You may also find our last blog: How to tell whether your healthcare job is going well or not, useful in helping you evaluate what you’d like to do.

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