How to Find the Best Job and Salary in Your New Nursing Career

Fabiah Blog is supported by Fabiah.com, where you can purchase affordable, comprehensive malpractice insurance for nurses and healthcare professionals. If you are not already insured, you are uncertain about purchasing a personal policy, or would simply like to learn more about personal medical malpractice insurance, then please read this article. Now, here is how to find the best job and salary in your new nursing career. 


Considering the current shortage of nurses, it would seem that finding your dream nursing job would be relatively simple. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Because of the competitive atmosphere in the healthcare industry, it takes time, energy and planning to find your perfect job. Taking a proactive stance in your career development is the best way to find your ideal position. Whether you are a recent graduate from nursing school or an established nurse, there are a variety of steps that you can take to build your perfect career. Here is how to find the best job and salary in your new nursing career.

Know exactly what you want

Of course, there is no guarantee that you will get it, but knowing what your dream job is, including the specialty, the shift and the pay, makes it much easier to decide if a posted job opening is the right one for you. You cannot expect the perfect job to fall into your lap, and by knowing what your goals are, you can make an educated choice when applying for a position.

Be ready to compromise

It is rare that one job that has everything an individual prefers. Even people that love their job have days when they do not want to put on their scrubs or dread heading to work. Your goal is to minimize those days, while still having a job that pays well and allows you to have a life outside your work. To effectively compromise, you have to know what is most important to you, and realize that this can change several times over your career. When you are fresh out of school, single, and ready to repay your student loans, money may be the most important factor. If so, working less desirable shifts that offer a shift differential can be very attractive and a smart decision. Ten years later, married and with children to shuttle to soccer practice or piano lessons, you may prefer less money but straight days and no overtime, again, a smart decision at the time. You cannot make these decisions, though, without having a clear set of priorities and the ability to compromise.

Develop a long term career path

While your long term plans may change over time, it is important to consider what you want out of life, and where you want nursing to take you. For some people, nursing is a stepping stone to a hospital management or supervisory role. For others, the hands-on nursing work is where their passions lie. Some individuals want to leave nursing and enter the nurse educator field, which is a fine career goal as well. Regardless of what your choice is, it will not happen overnight. Planning ahead is the best way to achieve your goal.

Continue your education

If you received your RN through a community college, and have an associate degree, you may want to consider taking courses to receive your B.S.N., if you have your B.S.N., you may want to take graduate level courses. With so many courses available over the internet and with limited class time, as well as the fact that many hospitals provide tuition reimbursement, it makes sense to continue your education.

Join local professional associations

The best way to stay up to date with what is happening in your industry is thorough local professional groups. They provide insider knowledge about what is going on at each hospital, and you will often find out about job openings before they are advertised. The benefit of networking with other professionals is understood in many industries, although the nursing industry has been slower to catch on. Networking provides you with the opportunity to make connections with many people that can later provide you with references, job leads or even emotional support.

Don’t burn any bridges

This is the final tip on our list of how to find the best job and salary in your new nursing career. No matter how much you hate your job, your coworkers or your boss, make sure to act professionally at all times. It doesn’t matter if you promise yourself that you will never work for them again or even if you are sure that you will never see them again, it is important not to burn any bridges. The healthcare industry is a small world. People move around, to different floors, different hospitals, and what feels like righteous indignation to you may sound like bad behavior to others.

A career in nursing can provide a lucrative and secure future. By taking the time to formulate a game plan, negotiate the things that are important to you, and continue your education, you will find that you are in a position to take advantage of your ideal career opportunity when it presents itself. If you do not know what you want, or think that you will recognize the perfect job when you find it, you will be disappointed. People that take this approach to their career often find themselves moving from job to job with no clear progression.

Part 7 of EI and Nursing – Sympathy vs Empathy

            Welcome back to the Fabiah Blog series, EI and Nursing! This time we cover sympathy vs empathy as well as compassion. Next time, in our final article of the series, we will see one more surprising way that EI helps nurses.

            What if, by saying something nice, we made a patient feel worse? What if phrases like “It’s alright,” and “You won’t even miss your hair,” and “You’re just the strongest person,” were exactly what they did not want to hear?

            That’s exactly what a 2017 study found. Shane Sinclair and Kate
Beamer asked palliative cancer patients about the responses people had to their suffering. The patients described one category of response that was unhelpful, unwanted, and even made them feel worse. And those “nice” phrases mentioned above fall right into that undesirable kind of response. If these are unwanted responses, then why do we say them? And, what should we say instead? As we delve into these questions, recall what we’ve learned about Emotional Intelligence (EI) and empathetic listening. Both will help us make sense of the results of this study.

            Sinclair and Beamer found patients making a distinction between responses that expressed sympathy vs empathy

            Of sympathy, one patient said, “Sympathy is very easy, it’s an emotion, probably one of the easiest emotions to fake. I hate sympathy!”

            According to patients sympathy is:

  • Distant
  • Selfish
  • Unhelpful

            From the patients’ point of view, a sympathetic response was a distancing response. By expressing sympathy, a person kept the patient’s suffering at arm’s length.
Sympathetic responses often included mitigation of suffering – “It’s not so bad.” – or shifting focus – “You should think about the good things.” Patients noticed people used this distance for self-protection. By rebuffing difficult feelings like grief and fear, sympathy protected people from coming too close to the patients’ suffering, but left patients feeling alone and discouraged.

            Empathy was given an almost opposite profile. Patients described empathy as being:

  • Connected
  • Selfless

            Empathetic responses were marked by the attempt to connect with a patient’s suffering. Rather than protect themselves with quick and shallow responses, people who expressed empathy adjusted their attitudes and emotions to be more aligned with the patient. The patient’s emotion was given priority.

            Of empathy, one patient reported, “Empathy enters into another’s suffering … it’s just the ability to be there.”

            Connections to the sympathy/empathy distinction have appeared throughout the EI and Nursing series. For example, we saw that empathetic listening is the effort to understand and connect with another person, which is exactly what distinguishes empathy from sympathy. Or consider Emotional Intelligence, by which we correctly identify and effectively manage emotion; Sinclair and Beamer found that a person’s inability to process a patient’s suffering is what leads them to express sympathy instead of empathy. We could say that sympathy is stuck in the attention phase of EI, where we have a general awareness that something is wrong, we feel distress, but can’t get any further. Without moving on to the clarity and repair phases of EI, we’re left with the knee-jerk reaction of sympathy.

            Above we gave sympathy three markers and empathy only two. Why didn’t we describe empathy as helpful the way we described sympathy as unhelpful?
Because patients in Sinclair and Beamer’s study used a third word to describe a response that both connected with their suffering and looked for some way to help. The word they used was compassion. Whereas empathy might listen and connect but do nothing further, compassion wants to find something to do to alleviate patients’ suffering. 

            So, now we can say why those nice sounding phrases can make a patient feel worse. In sympathetic responses, patients sense a desire to disconnect, which leaves them alone with their suffering. So why do we sometimes express sympathy instead of empathy? Because sympathy protects us, because we’re thinking of ourselves. It’s the same barrier we covered last time, standing in the way of empathetic listening. On the positive side, the three strategies we covered in the previous article apply here as well. In place of sympathy we can ask questions that lead to connection, like “What are you feeling?” We can reflect: “You seem frustrated with your options.” And, we can help: “Is there some way I can make things better for you?”

            If we put into practice all we’ve learned in this series, we should find ourselves moving more and more from sympathy to empathy and, lastly, into compassionate care.

            We hope you enjoyed this discussion of sympathy vs empathy. Be sure not to miss our next article! Type your email in the box below to receive the next article as part of Fabiah Blog’s weekly newsletter.


Fabiah Blog is supported by Fabiah.com, where you can purchase affordable, comprehensive malpractice insurance for nurses and healthcare professionals. If you are not already insured, you are uncertain about purchasing a personal policy, or would simply like to learn more about personal medical malpractice insurance, then please read this article.