You’re a nurse because you care – you care about your patients and improving lives on a daily basis makes you feel good. You also care a lot about yourself– you’re committed and driven to improving yourself both personally and professionally.
Whether you just stepped foot in the field and are looking for ways to stand out or you have years of experience and are finally ready to take on new challenges, there are always things you can be doing to progress in your profession.
Nursing career advancement shouldn’t intimidate you; it should inspire you! As the title of this article suggests, dressing in a manner that conveys professionalism is crucial to success, but there are additional ways to stand out in your career. But where do you start? We enlisted some veteran nurses to help us identify seven strategies to help you step up your game in the workplace and achieve your professional goals.
1. Find a mentor
Seeking guidance from a nurse who’s more seasoned can be extremely valuable. Never undermine the immense value of building relationships – especially those that can benefit your professional wellbeing. Finding a mentor in the field can help you glean insights and advice that only come from years of experience! Plus, there is no better resource when you have questions about your career path or are in need of a professional reference.
2. Consider a specialization
Maybe the key to taking your career to the next step is to narrow your focus. Lucky for you, the nursing profession offers several specializations and areas of interest. So if you’ve experienced certain aspects of the job that you particularly enjoy, you can build a career out of it.
“Becoming certified in your specialty area will help advance your career and often your paycheck, particularly if certification is through a reputable association,” says Nancy Brook, MSN, RN.
Different specialties require different qualifications, experiences or levels of education. Peruse a few of these exciting nursing specialties to see some of the opportunity out there!
3. Follow nursing blogs
Believe it or not, thousands of resources from other nurses or nursing organizations are available to you with the simple click of a mouse. The Internet is host to countless blogs and other online resources from with you can benefit. Keep a pulse on new trends and industry news, learn tricks of the trade from seasoned experts, or simply have a laugh with entertaining posts about the profession.
But don’t enter the pool of nursing blogs alone – check out our list of 24 nursing blogs you need to follow to get you started!
4. Join a professional organization
There are many perks to joining a professional nursing organization or association. Not only will you be joining the elite ranks of dedicated and passionate nursing professionals like yourself, but you’ll also have access to a whole new world of nursing connections.
Nurses in professional organizations may receive invitations or discounts on nursing or healthcare conventions or continuing education courses. Employment assistance and resources may also be available for your job search. Some even offer their own certifications to boost your credentials and career!
5. Experience different nursing units
Soak up all of the nursing experience you can by working in as many units as possible. This will help you acquire a taste for what you like and dislike. It will also make you more marketable in the job market, according to Brad Sherp of Nurses Alert, a website that connects nurses with employers.
“Nurses who have experience in multiple units are considered more valuable to hospitals because they can fill needs as the daily census changes,” Sherp explains. He adds that the diverse experience also a makes you more attractive candidate for management positions.
6. Continuing education opportunities
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, so don’t be left in the dust! Stay up to date on the latest advancements, techniques and practices in healthcare by pursuing continuing education opportunities.
Many states have specific continuing education requirements for nurses upon license renewal. Besides meeting the standards and staying informed, this will also demonstrate to your employer your dedication and commitment to mastering your craft.
7. Shoot for your BSN
Yes, you’re already a working nurse with a plethora of accumulated knowledge from your time in scrubs and in the classroom. But with the way the tides are turning in healthcare, it’s a smart idea to start earning your BSN now. Several states have submitted bills proposing the 'BSN in Ten' initiative, which would require all nurses to obtain their BSN within 10 years of practice.
Acquiring your BSN can open the door to more job opportunities and even increase your earning potential. In fact, a 2013 study from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services reported that nearly 80 percent of healthcare institutions either preferred or required new nursing hires to have a bachelor’s degree.
Inspired to improve?
You’ve never been one to be satisfied with the status quo. You’ve already poured your heart and soul into this profession, so why stop now?
Continue striving to be the best nurse you can be with these nursing career advancement tips. And if you’re considering elevating your career to the next level, learn more about the advantages you can expect in our article: Is RN to BSN Worth it? 9 Reasons to Level Up.