Do you have a nursing career goal? I did not have a single one for most of my 30 years in the nursing profession. Why not, you ask? Because when I first started out as an RN I thought I would be a staff nurse for my entire career. At the time I loved working on a busy oncology floor at a teaching hospital and I thought I would be there until I retired.
After about 6 years of working as a staff nurse I realized that I wanted something different. That’s when I transitioned to home care.
Long story short, I did need a plan. I regret not taking a more active role in my nursing career during my early days. Here are a few tips I‘ve learned so that you can avoid making the same mistake:
From the beginning of your nursing career after graduation, have a written plan in place. How do you see yourself in 3-5 years from now? Write it down and refer to it often, make adjustments and keep planning your next move.
Start with a beginning date and an end date for each short and long term goal. If you want to go back to nursing school for your BSN, your short term goal could be when you will start and the long term goal could be when you will finish.
For example, you want to go back to nursing school. What should you do first? Step one: I will research nursing schools, compare tuition prices, and the amount of time it will take. Step two: I will fill out the application forms. Be sure to set time limits as to when each step will be completed, otherwise you could spend too much time on researching nursing schools and never moving on to the next step.
With the Internet, it is easy to find information on a nursing specialty you have been interested in pursuing. Find out what’s needed to get into that nursing specialty. Would you need more education or specialized training? What transferable skills do you already have that you could use for your new nursing specialty?
All nursing specialties have an organization or association you can join or sign up for their newsletter to find out more about this nursing specialty you’re interested. Or find a nurse who is working in that field and see if you could talk to her about how she got her job. This is valuable information you could use on your resume or interview.
Take nursing CE credits outside your field of expertise or take classes offered by your employer. Try new techniques, become computer savvy, be willing to learn new procedures, stay up to date with technology, policies and procedures. Always keep learning, never stop.
These are just a few tips to help you with your nursing career. There are many more in a book I recently read called The Nursing Career Planning Guide by Dr. Susan Turner. It’s an essential resource guide for any stage of your nursing career.
You must make the choice to manage your own nursing career. By doing nothing (like I did for a long time), the environment will make the choice for you and it may not be what you wanted.
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