It is wise to periodically revisit the overarching concepts of nursing career management. Career is your work path or journey. You manage it by overseeing it, coaxing it along, setting the direction, and evaluating its course along the way. While some hospitals and healthcare organizations do a good job of providing career progression tools and professional development opportunities, YOU will manage your career in a way that truly serves YOUR best interests. Take the long-view. Take control.
The Components of Career Management
First and foremost, you need to know your wants and needs. You must be able to rattle them off comfortably, at a moment's notice, and feel confident you've invested the necessary time and energy for genuine self-reflection and assessment. Beyond that, you must take annual inventory of your nursing licensure, knowledge, skills, abilities, certifications, interests, values, and work ethic. Often, this is only done in the form of a resume, which is not enough. Your resume is a "here and now" tool that looks at what you have developed so far that specifically supports an immediate goal. Do not confuse your nursing resume for a career map.
True career management requires you to:
- Identify the knowledge and skill accelerators available to you such as training, mentorship, promotion and transfer opportunities.
- Map out the bigger picture of what you want out of life, how your skills have developed, and what next steps to take both now and along the way.
- Structure your path in the form of options for career progression.
Ultimately, you want to analyze which nursing career paths are most sustainable for you. Paths can include hospital settings, community/public health settings, online nursing, consulting, insurance, consumer services, sales, education, emergency services, psychiatric, and yes, even self-employment. Which paths support what is most important in regards to other aspects of your life?
Nursing Changes on the Horizon
Healthcare reform is on everyone’s mind. Nursing certification discussions revolve around the need for a RN, BSN and even a MSN designation. Nursing functions continue to be automated wherever possible. Hospital stays are shrinking requiring nurses to work at peak efficiency. Outpatient care is on the rise as is remote case management. Preventative care is becoming paramount to curbing costs. Geriatrics and gerontology needs are exploding. Nurse consultants are needed across a variety of settings.
However changes unfold, your organization will conduct annual performance appraisals of some kind, to review your progress in support of their strategic goals. The review is just one component of career management, so don't stop there. If you gain benefit from the exercise as well, great, but the employer is serving their own interests first and foremost - make no mistake about it.
Create an Annual Career Plan
Just like a nursing organization prepares an annual operating plan, you can develop and maintain an annual career plan. Align your planning with the multi-phased performance appraisal process to keep you ahead of the curve and prepared for all development discussions. List and revise your wants, needs, skills, values, etc. Research and use all the best resources and tools. Ask good questions about where the organization is headed. Set specific career goals for the upcoming year and list what actionable steps you will need to take to achieve those goals. Bring these ideas to your supervisor just prior to the annual process of setting expectations so that your goals can be incorporated as much as possible.
How are YOU managing your nursing career? What tools and resources have you identified to best support your goals? Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!