8 Rules to Have a Successful Nursing Career

By Sue Heacock on Tue, Aug 06, 2013

nursing careerBeing a nurse is easy. You just complete the tasks required for your job, but you never know do you know how to be an extraordinary caregiver? To become successful in your nursing career, you need to remember that caring for your patient is the most significant part of your job.

Many of the same qualities and actions that create success in your personal life make you successful in the field of nursing.

Here are a few key tips that I have learned along the way:

  1. Rise and shine.

    Whether you work 7A-7P, 7P-7A, or any shift in between, arrive to work good to go and in good spirits. There is nothing worse than saying, "Good Morning" to a co-worker only to be answered with, "What's good about it?" It doesn't bode well for the positive spirits of those around you for the rest of the day! Shine to your patients, peers, and supervisors everyday! Spread the positivity, nurses.
  2. Measure twice, cut once.

    Patient safety is paramount in nursing. Regardless of how busy or how stressed you feel, you must pay attention to detail to avoid sentinel events or near misses. It is not only the safety of your patients on the line, but your professional reputation as well.
  3. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

    Make the best use of your time while at work. Procrastinating and not optimizing your workload is not only unfair to your patients, but affects your peers as well. How many times have you come on shift to find many things were left undone that should have been accomplished? This one goes hand in hand with the next one!
  4. Follow the Golden Rule.

    Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you

    I found the true meaning of this statement when I first began working in a pediatric emergency room. I wanted to ensure each patient was treated like he/she were my own child. At the same time, I was constantly cognizant of parental emotions and needs. This philosophy works well with peers too. If your co-worker is really busy and you have a slow moment, help him/her out. It will be remembered the next time you need someone to pitch in and it will be a big factor in gaining success in your nursing career.
  5. When in Rome, (do as the Romans do).

    Teamwork is important in nursing. Those around you rely on your professional standards and behavior. And – there really are reasons for those work site rules and policies!  Remember…there is no "I" in team!
  6. Every rose has its thorn and stuff happens.

    There is no utopian job, optimum situation, or perfect day. A nurse must take the negatives in stride and focus on the positives. Dwelling on the negatives creates anxiety and makes everything in your day seem worse than it really is! So, go with the flow.
  7. Don't bite the hand that feeds you and/or don't burn your bridges.

    If you are frustrated or argument with your manager or supervisor, grin and bear it. Talking about management personnel behind his/her back or sabotaging his/her authority will only get you in hot water. Remember, these are the people who create work schedules, complete performance appraisals, and make recommendations for promotions. 

    Also keep in mind that if you ever leave your current position, he/she controls your destiny when new potential employers call!
  8. Turn over a new leaf if you are barking up the wrong tree.

    It is okay if you decide your current nursing job is either not for you or you find yourself in need of a new professional challenge. You will not be productive and effective if you are not happy. Find another tree or a new leaf!

And never forget that every cloud has a silver lining and you need to take time to smell the roses.

Do you have any advice to add to achieve success in your nursing career? Please leave a comment and sharing your thoughts below!


Anonymous 3 years ago
Thanks immensely for reminding us of these great tips. I strongly agree that Positive attitude/behavior goes a long way to influence our lives and those of others around us.

Anonymous 4 years ago

Great article.