Dr. Phyllis Has Advice For Your Next Career Move

Publish Date: May 17, 2017

Every step in a perioperative nurse’s career provides opportunities and challenges. The choices a nurse makes at these critical junctures can dictate the shape of his or her career. That’s why coaching can be a valuable resource along the way, according to nursing career coach Phyllis Quinlan, RN-BC, PhD, known in the nursing community as Dr. Phyllis.

She says career coaching provides a safe and confidential environment in which the nurse drives the conversation and the coach helps to illuminate options a nurse can’t quite visualize.

“Career coaching is not about fixing anything, rather, it’s an opportunity to spread out all of the options available for you and help you to understand the return on investment for a specific direction,” Dr. Phyllis explains.

She says career coaching provides different values at every stage in a nurse’s career. Here are three common career points where she often coaches nurses to find their next step:

Fresh Out of Nursing School

Opportunities to be accepted into a perioperative fellowship or internship program are giving new nurses more options for pursuing the perioperative specialty early in their career. I get phone calls from new grads wondering how to craft the perfect resume and make sure they stand out from other candidates. For these nurses, I explain that the right resume may get you an interview but the key to getting the job is articulating how your temperament, attitude, and philosophy as a nurse and a person will add to an organization’s culture. Career coaching can help nurses to widen their perspective on the different aspects of themselves they can bring to a new nursing position.

Looking Beyond a Strictly Clinical Role

Perioperative nurses who have been settled in a clinical role for three, five, even 10 years may be ready to make the time and scheduling commitment to venture into leadership in an educational or administrative capacity. This can be a critical time to set out a path for next professional steps so it’s important that I help these nurses understand where they see their path leading in the next 10, even 20 years of their career. There are so many options for a nurse at this stage and career coaching can offer clarity around these options to help a nurse become more focused and build energy and enthusiasm for a particular path.

Approaching the Mid-Career Mark

Nurses with twenty+ years of experience may start to appreciate that they are going to have to plan around a career that factors in physical stamina in order to plan wisely and strategically for aging into the profession. Moving into a combination of inservice and academic education, research, or even specializing in a non-clinical nursing area such as documentation might be some ideas to consider. I can offer access and insight into such opportunities.

Dr. Phyllis says one critical aspect of her role as a career coach is to have her finger on the pulse of where the nursing profession and health care industry is moving so the nurses she coaches can plan accordingly.

“My goal with any coaching encounter is multifaceted, depending on why a nurse is speaking to me. Maybe he or she wants to explore career options or needs to work through a personal challenge such as compassion fatigue,” Dr. Phyllis acknowledges. “I can put a name to a challenge such as compassion fatigue that a nurse may be experiencing and provide a path to work through these issues so he or she can come out the other side far more aware and more resilient.”

She also coaches nurses who are victims of bullying to help him or her validate that what they are going through is wrong and to regain a sense of empowerment through exploring options such as constructive confrontation and even legal options.

Need Coaching?

Through a new AORN benefit of membership, an AORN member can now connect directly with Dr. Phyllis for a complimentary 90-minute career coaching session, with the option for additional coaching at a 10% discount.

Dr. Phyllis says she is thrilled to be connecting with AORN members through this recently launched coaching partnership. “I am honored to be working with a professional nursing organization as large and respected as AORN that is advocating for its members in such a supportive and visionary way.”


If you are an AORN member, sign up here to claim your complimentary 90-minute coaching session with Dr. Phyllis.

Learn more about coaching opportunities with Dr. Phyllis.


Struggling with bullying and incivility among your staff? Learn Dr. Phyllis’ advice for understanding and addressing the problem.