Many people, almost 3 million, have chosen to make nursing their career. Many of those people are satisfied with their choice, while others have run into large roadblocks. Nursing today has advanced so far that there are many routes to circumvent any roadblock that may arise.

We often use the word empowerment in nursing. How to empower nurses, patients and every person we encounter in life. It is high time that we take our words seriously. We must learn that with the proper effort, any goal is within our reach. We need to realize that many of the obstacles preventing our progress are often self-imposed. We need to break through these barriers to let the nurse in each of us go forth to make a positive impact in the world. An exceedingly lofty goal? I set my personal views in life at a very high level! Truly, we all should aim high.

My postings to blogs and other discussions focus on the positive aspects of nursing. Many of the comments to these columns focus on how hard it is to provide care in the high stress, short staffed and bottom line hospital world of today. The number of these post has led me to think about ways that the person who finds the stress of traditional nursing overwhelming, can best survive, intact, in today's nursing world. No matter what solution I think of, I always come back to the fact that people must empower themselves in order to continue their chosen career of nursing.

For the nurse who truly desires to stay at the bedside in the hospital atmosphere, there are sources for helping with the stress that enterprises are this type of work. Many facilities have an employee assistance program (EAP), stress management or similar programs available. These programs are particularly effective in dealing with the short-term problems that may be affecting nurses. These are usually advertised as part of the employee's benefits along with paid time off, health insurance and educational assistance programs. Everyone takes advantage of the time off and health insurance benefits, why not make use of the EAP benefits as well? The interaction is confidential. What is discussed is not reported back to your employer. The type of program may include stress management techniques, alternative therapies or simply the ability to vent your problems out loud to a non-judicial person who can offer an independent caring ear. It is surprising how your problems change when you actually speak the words instead of stewing the words inside of your mind.

Maybe bedside nursing is no longer an option for you. Family commitments may conflict with rotating shifts and long hours. Forty years ago when I went to nursing school, your employment prospects were limited to working in a hospital or in a doctor's office. The nurse of today has an infinite variety of workplace opportunities available. Positions within the insurance industry, advanced practice nursing, independent practice, home health and hospitality are but a few of the many opportunities that are available today. Pursuing advanced education is possible by way of the Internet. Some of this education may lead to an advanced degree (BSN, MSN) while other courses may lead to a certificate in a multitude of areas (risk management, simulation, medical coding, or legal nurse consulting). A click of any search engine will yield a variety of options available for today's nurse.

Each person must make an honest assessment of their present work status life position and where they want to be. Maybe you need to start taking the first steps towards your future while continuing on with your current position. As Steven Covey stated, we must start with the finished picture in mind. We need to have a personal and professional goal to work towards. When you are taking concrete steps towards achieving your future goal, it becomes a little easier to accept your current position. All the while knowing that better days are ahead.