Nursing and product management are more similar than you think
Nursing is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers a person could ever ask for. It is also highly stressful, prone to burnout, and a field in which the adage that nurses “eat their young” is widely known and accepted.
In college I had a classmate who was curious about my desire to pivot from healthcare to business. I’ll never forget the earnest look of disappointment on her face when she asked If I, “didn’t want to help people anymore.”
In reality, I still wanted to help people. But, I wanted to be in a position where I felt I could make a bigger impact and unfortunately that meant leaving the bedside.
It’s been a little more than a decade since I graduated from the U.S. Army’s Practical Nursing Specialist (68C) course; and to this day it has been the most beneficial career decision I have ever made.
And as I come to the end of my time as a nurse, I thought it might be useful to share some of the similarities I have noticed over the years, just in case there is someone else out there who is looking to make the jump from the bedside.
Empathy for end users: as a nurse, patients and family members are your “end users” and understanding their needs is at the core of what you do each and every day. Having empathy for your user and being willing to immerse yourself in their journey is a skill that is critical in both nursing and product management.
Advocacy: whether it’s for a new feature, or a specific medical treatment, advocating for your user is something that both product managers and nurses must learn to do well in order to succeed.
Data analysis: nurses and product managers have to be able to synthesize both qualitative and quantitative data to identify opportunities, trends, and prevent future problems from happening.
Cross-functional collaboration: while product managers collaborate with engineers, designers, and other key stakeholders to ensure their product is meeting the user’s needs. Nurses collaborate with members of the patient’s care team, and other service departments, to ensure quality care is delivered and the patient’s needs are met.
Bonus: when you really think about it, nursing assessments are a form of user interview and patient care plans are basically simplified roadmaps. 🙂
While this is by no means a comprehensive list. It’s a starting point if you’re curious about leaving the bedside, but have struggled (like I have in the past) to translate your wealth of experience as a nurse into a role outside of patient care.
If you had told me 10 years ago how my journey from bedside nurse to product manager would play out I would not have believed you.
But, I’m starting to realize that life is just funny that way and sometimes it’s best to stop fighting it and enjoy the ride. Always forward!