How Do You Define ‘Career-Minded Nurse’?

Photo by Biology Big Brother, via Flickr

Photo by Biology Big Brother, via Flickr

In our discussions of how to “brand” AJN, we on staff have sometimes referred to it as “the journal for the career-minded nurse.” I’ve often wondered who those nurses are. Some might think they’re that small percentage of nurses who go on for advanced degrees (only 13% of nurses, according to one source) or those who move into management positions.

But I see them differently. I think there are a lot more career-minded nurses out there than we give credit for. What about nurses in direct-care roles who strive to be the best clinicians they can be—aren’t they “career minded” too? They’re the nurses I looked up to when I was working in the hospital and hoped to be like some day. They keep the basic principles of good nursing in mind, combining compassion and evidence-based practice, behaving professionally, dressing appropriately, staying aware of health care trends, and advancing nursing by participating in unit- and hospital-wide committees and professional organizations.

It’s not always easy. I broke the “dress appropriately” rule once, and will never do that again! (A hospital is no place for snakeskin pants, I learned.) And what would a nurse manager think of my new nose ring? One recent blog post debates that issue.

In my definition, career-minded nurses also take their role as preceptor very seriously, showing patience and understanding to new nurses. We need more of this; as one nurse blogger, Not Nurse Ratched, put it: “I have many assets to bring to this profession and to my patients, and I hope I survive my first year without burning out so that I can keep those assets in this profession.”

Patients need smart, capable nurses at the bedside. Perhaps if those nurses start getting the respect they deserve, we can keep them there.

Christine Moffa, MSN, RN, clinical editor
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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Sean August 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    You are very welcome! Doing my part to spread the word!

  2. Peggy August 3, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Thanks Moffa for reminding me how OLD a nurse I am!
    Actually, I really wanted to thank Sean as I agree completely and it is why I will continue to recommend nursing as a career!

  3. Sean July 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I think we all enter in this profession being ‘career-minded’. It’s more than just a ‘job’. It’s more than just a career.
    I like to call it a ‘calling’.
    You are either made for this, or you’re not. And you find out just what your made of in that first year!

    We all are career-minded. The absolute most beautiful thing about being a nurse.. is your career.. is only limited by you.
    Endless possiblities… endless.

  4. nursemoffa July 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks for your comment Peggy! Just so everyone knows, Peggy was one of those nurses I looked up to back when we worked together. I had only one year of experience at the time and I knew if she was working that day I had someone to go to for guidance and support when things got tough.

  5. Peggy July 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I totally agree! We need many more professional, career minded, bedside nurses. A career at the bedside offers many benefits; a flexible schedule, travel opportunities, exciting and stimulating work, comraderie, among other things. A bedside role can also be a place that chews you up and spits you out. Until that dichotomy is tamed, we will continue to see less nurses maintaining a career at the bedside.

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