There are many potential signs that it's time to leave your current nursing job and seek another position. It can be difficult to throw your career into transition, but the following three signs are sure bets that you need to make a move.

1. Your license is at risk

Perhaps the most important reason to change employers is when you're certain your nursing license is at risk.

If you are pushed to work outside of your scope of practice and beyond your professional comfort zone, leave immediately. This may include situations where you are requested to make decisions that should be made by other licensed professionals (e.g., a physician or APRN) or when you suspect insurance fraud. In home health and hospice, the risk of inadvertently committing Medicare fraud is high; less scrupulous agencies will knowingly commit fraud in the interest of profit.

Nurse-patient ratios and other staffing issues are more signs that you may want to remove yourself. If you are unable to provide high-quality care due to your work load, and the risk of errors is elevated, you may be working for an employer who doesn't necessarily care about your license.

Avoid getting into a situation where your employer throws you under the bus after an error is made.

2. Negative workplace culture

A negative workplace culture can manifest in myriad ways. Such an environment does not bode well for your morale and professional happiness.

When organizations tolerate or turn a blind eye to bullying, intimidation, harassment or discrimination, this is a sure sign of an unhealthy work environment. Whereas some cultures are simply unfriendly or depressing, a workplace culture rife with verbal violence and aberrant behavior is a place to avoid.

You deserve to feel safe, cared for and valued at work. If your employer provides anything less, this is where you draw the line. No one deserves bullying, harassment or discrimination, but a culture does not need to be deviant or violent in order for you to jump ship.

3. Lack of growth and opportunity

Another reason for leaving a position or employer is lack of growth or opportunity. Progressive, forward-thinking organizations want their employees to grow along with the company, and they provide opportunities whenever possible.

Granted, small companies do not necessarily have the resources to grow their staff the way larger employers do, so your expectations need to be adjusted to fit your situation.

Stipends for education, support for seeking certifications, clinical ladder systems and opportunities for assuming more responsibility are ways in which employers actively encourage professional development. Serving on boards, committees, taking part in research and otherwise being groomed for deeper organizational involvement are also excellent sources of personal and professional growth.

If these are not forthcoming, there may be brighter horizons elsewhere.

Trust your gut and intellect

Your nurse's intuition is one of your best guides regarding when it's time to seek greener professional pastures. When your gut is telling you to flee, there's generally cause.

The three reasons listed above do not apply to everyone. Each situation is unique, and there are plenty of other factors that may contribute to the necessity to remove yourself from a workplace.

Above all, protect your license, your safety, your integrity, your values and your personal and professional well-being. Use these as your guide, and trust your intuition and intellect to move you in the right direction.