You have a lot to achieve within your nursing career, and quite often, you will find that the only thing holding you back is you. To ensure that you advance your career as far as you want to, you have to be invested in yourself and in the right course of action. If you do not invest in yourself, then you may doubt the moves you are making, and you might struggle to push forward as quickly (and as smoothly) as your colleagues do. Of course, within nursing, it is not a competition to be the best, and this cannot be emphasized enough. It is, however, an opportunity to do what you can for patients and for their levels of care. So, to advance your nursing career and take it as far as you want (and get the impact you want), what decisive action should you take?
Evaluate Your Starting Point
Before you jump in at the deep end, you need to evaluate your starting point. Where are you currently within your nursing career? Are you doing what you want to be doing, and are your expectations matching up to reality? If you are not where you thought you would be, it can, of course, be frustrating. However, this does not mean that you have to settle and accept where you are. Use your current starting point as a positive step toward your future. For example, if you are a registered nurse working in the maternity wards, then think about if this experience and knowledge could move your career in the direction of pediatrics.
Future Opportunities – Where do They Lie
When you have evaluated your starting point, you then have to start looking at future opportunities. As the nursing and healthcare industry is constantly growing, developing, and changing, you can be sure that there will be plenty of opportunities for you to progress. For example, if you are currently practicing as a registered nurse, would you like to pursue nurse leadership? Would you like to make the decisions that have a direct impact and influence on how nurses work or on how they care for patients? There are lots of future opportunities open and available to you, and all you have to do is decide what route is right for you.
Choosing a New Specialism
You may find that a complete change in the direction you now want to head in is appropriate. If this is the case, a new specialism may well be on the cards for you. A new specialism or area of practice can allow you to explore what else nursing has to offer you and your career; it can also give you even more opportunities for career growth and development. When it comes to choosing a new specialism, you may want to look at areas that are of interest to you, but you may also want to look at areas that you might not have even considered before. Exploring new specialisms and even undertaking voluntary experience will give you the clarity and focus you need to make your next move. If a new specialism is right for you, then go for it; alternatively, if you feel that your current specialism has enough to offer, then stick with it. Whichever option is right for you, do what feels right in your gut. Once you have set a specialism, then start working on goals and objectives.
Setting Career Goals and Objectives
Career goals and objectives will give you the direction you need. If you do not set goals and objectives, how can you expect to progress? When you are setting goals, you need to always ensure that they are SMART. Smart goals and objectives will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. When you have goals and objectives to follow, you can be sure that you are realizing your potential within your specialism. Setting just two or three goals and objectives should be what you focus your efforts on. If you try to focus on any more than this, you will end up feeling overly stressed, and this is not good for your productivity.
Shift Your Focus On to Your Education
Your time is precious, and you need to make the most out of all of the time that you have. One area in which you have to focus your time and efforts is your education. To advance your career and take it to the next level, you have to make sure that education is always high up on your to-do list. If you are not prepared to invest in your education, then you are not prepared to invest in growth and development. Education will help you grow as a nursing professional, and when you are choosing a program to study, it is important that you target your attention and efforts wherever you can. For example, if you want to switch from maternity to pediatrics, then look at online pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs because these will give you the base knowledge, awareness, and information that you need to make that change. If you are not focusing on specific programs at this stage in your nursing career, then you will come to a standstill, and you will struggle to advance.
Volunteering Your Time
Even though you are busy working within your role and you are planning for the future, you still need to try and find time to volunteer. When you give yourself a bit of your time, you get so much back. The experience, knowledge, and awareness that you get through volunteering can help you decide what career you want to pursue. You may also find that it gives you plenty of connections, not to mention something additional you can put on your resumé.
All of your experiences and knowledge gained as a nurse so far will help to shape your career moving forwards. Embarking on advancing your career can be an exciting but daunting prospect, and it is important to take everything at your own pace.
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