In the nursing industry, there are plenty of opportunities to advance. Whether you have recently graduated nursing school or you have ten years of nursing experience, you can find an array of courses allowing you to climb the ladder.
What Are the Opportunities?
Most nurses become RNs after nursing school. After that, the more ambitious of the bunch can study to become a nurse leader, a family nurse practitioner, a nurse-midwife, a nurse anesthetist, and more. When it comes to advancing as a nurse, there is no single set path – the opportunities on offer vary greatly, allowing you to pursue a career that suits your talents, qualifications, and dreams.
If you’re a nurse wanting to climb the ladder, then here are eighteen tips that will help you reach your goals.
1. Create a Clear Plan:
First of all, you must create a clear plan that outlines exactly where you want to head. Do you envision yourself as a leader? Is there a particular area of nursing you’ve always wanted to go into, like midwifery?
The best way to create a plan is to physically write out the steps that lead to achieving your goals. By having a clear direction, you’ll find focusing on each step much easier.
2. Choose the Right Course:
The course you choose dictates where you head, so don’t rush applying to a program. Once you know which area of nursing you want to go down, spend some time browsing through universities, asking for your co-worker’s advice, and attending open days. You want to make sure the course offers great communication, the right qualifications, and great course material.
You might consider studying online, especially if you’re working as a nurse full time. Online study has boomed in recent years, and for a good reason – you can access the courses to advance without having to travel far and wide. If you’re looking to go from a registered nurse to a family nurse practitioner, then Marymount University offers excellent online programs to get you there.
You might also want to consider choosing to go part-time either in your studies or your work, as this will allow you to give more time to achieve the best grades.
3. Ask Your Management for Advice:
Some of the best people to ask for advice are right in front of you. After all, those leading you were once in your position, and so will know the best ways to achieve advancement. When you get the chance, ask your manager for some advice on advancing, and they might even point you in a direction you had not previously considered.
4. Learn to Juggle Your Time:
As someone who has completed nursing school and spent some time as a nurse, you’ll most likely be well versed in time management. Life starts to become even busier once you decide to advance your studies, however, so make sure you’re prepared for juggling your time.
A few ways to help manage your time include setting a regular sleep time, creating a schedule at the beginning of each week, and squeezing studying into any downtime you get. It’s not easy, but when you’re striving to become an advanced nurse, you can’t expect it to be.
5. Put Yourself Forward for Leadership Opportunities:
Nursing is already a busy occupation without taking on any more responsibilities, but if you are serious about advancing, you must put yourself forward for any leadership opportunities. Not only will it give you experience for the future, but it will also show your managers that you are serious about stepping up and climbing the ladder.
Some people are natural leaders, while others need to practice until they nail it. Whichever side you stand on, the experience of leading a team will greatly help you when it comes to gaining the necessary leadership skills for an advanced role.
6. Keep Your Nursing Friends Close:
From needing someone to cover you to a shoulder to cry on, nursing friends will help you out in a great number of situations. You never know where your nurse co-workers are going to end up, and a few of them are likely to be as ambitious as you.
If one of your nursing friends advances in their career before you, then this could help you out when applying for a more advanced role, as they’ll know how hard you work. Networking begins in the workplace, so make sure you introduce yourself to as many people as possible and keep up those positive relationships.
7. Learn the Necessary Soft Skills:
You will have already nailed a bunch of soft skills to become a registered nurse in the first place, but if you want to advance, you’re going to have to hone them in even more. Gaining the qualifications and knowing the right people will help you climb the ladder, but you must also show that you have the right skills to succeed. These include:
In a more advanced nursing role, your communication skills must be second to none. When people look up to you for clarification, confidence, and knowledge, you must be able to speak with authority.
Take a look at the way your managers and leaders act. You should aim to exude the same kind of confidence when striving for a higher role, as people will be looking up to you for their own confidence.
Empathy is a necessary trait for all nurses. When the going gets tough, you still need to find compassion for the patients you are helping.
Professionalism means dressing, acting, and speaking the part. You must present yourself as a respectful nurse at all times. Don’t just wait until you advance to do this; show that you are worthy of advancing by keeping up professionalism at all times.
As previously mentioned, leadership is necessary for more advanced roles, so learn what it takes to be a great leader.
Nurses are faced with an array of problems every day, and advanced leaders face the same. The difference is, higher-up nurses have more responsibility, which means your problem-solving skills must be excellent.
As a nurse, you’ll already understand the importance of endurance. After all, it takes real perseverance to get through 12, 13, and 14-hour shifts. As a leader, you’ll need to improve this skill even further as you’ll have to endure those shifts with even more responsibility.
8. Know Your Strengths:
The most talented people don’t try to achieve everything by stretching themselves thin – they understand the areas they thrive in and pursue goals to maximize those strengths. If you want to go far as a nurse, then it’s up to you to understand exactly where your strengths lie.
If you’re an excellent communicator, for example, you might be best suited to a leadership role such as management or even teaching. If your interpersonal skills with patients are second to none, then a family nurse practitioner might be the path for you as you’ll work closely and intimately with patients each day.
9. Make Your Goals Known:
Don’t keep your dreams to yourself – let your co-workers and managers know exactly where you plan to be in five years. By doing this, you’ll get people thinking of you as an ambitious nurse, so when the time comes for you to climb the ladder, they’ll already see you as a leader.
10. Never Stop Learning:
You will learn a lot during your shifts and studies, but what about when you’re away from the job? The best nurses seek out knowledge from everywhere, so get into the habit of researching the medical world as a hobby.
The healthcare industry never slows down with its developments, so neither should you. Make it your mission to always keep up and learn as much as you can.
11. Prove Yourself Every Shift:
While it’s impossible to prove that you’re worthy of an advanced role in one shift, you can do it by keeping up your work ethic every time you enter the workplace. Consistency is better than one day of hard work, after all, so by showing your skills each day, your managers will take notice of you.
Don’t worry if you have one or two bad days where you make mistakes, as if you work hard every other day, it’ll cancel them out.
12. Maintain a Work-Life Balance:
You might think it is impossible to maintain a work-life balance while trying to advance your nursing career, but that isn’t true. In fact, it’s more important to do so while you’re advancing, as a stressed mind could affect your effort and grades.
While most of your time will go toward your work and studies, you can still de-stress in your downtime by making the most of it. Treat yourself to fun activities, keep up with your friends, and do some self-care whenever you can.
13. Write an Excellent Resume:
When the time comes for applying for advanced nursing roles, make sure you create a resume that shows off just how excellent you are. Of course, you’ll provide all the essential information, such as your qualifications and work experience, but you should also include great recommendations and the reasons why you’d be an asset to the employer.
14. Nail the Interviewing Process:
After writing a great resume and getting an interview, you must then show your interviewee that you’re worth hiring. Some key tips for nailing an interview include:
- Keeping eye contact
- Researching the Company (the clinic, hospital, etc.)
- Preparing questions
Of course, how you prepare for the interview will depend on what nursing role you’re going for, so tailor your preparation as much as possible.
15. Spend Some Time Volunteering:
If you’re looking to gain more leadership experience, then volunteering could give you that. This is especially helpful if you feel you’re not gaining enough experience to help you advance in your work as a nurse. Have a look around for volunteering opportunities, and dedicate a couple of hours to improving your skillset, your resume, and your reputation.
16. Work as a Travel Nurse:
Travel nursing isn’t for everyone, especially those with home obligations and a family, but if you have a little more freedom, then it could give you the experience you need to advance your career later down the line.
There are excellent benefits to becoming a travel nurse, including the opportunity to meet people and explore a variety of places. You’ll find networking much easier as a travel nurse, and with the variety of work you’ll do, you might even discover a specialty you want to go into that you hadn’t considered previously.
17. Gain Plenty of Experience:
This one might sound obvious, but sometimes people like to jump ahead. To prove that you are worthy of advancing your career, spend some time building up your experience. Not only will this help you advance as a nurse, but it will also help you understand what it’s like to work at the bottom.
Advancing isn’t a race – you have your whole career to pursue your specialty, so soak up as much nursing experience as you can.
18. Don’t Give Up:
Advancing as a nurse isn’t easy. When you’re dreaming of being a clinical nurse specialist, a neonatal nurse practitioner, or a nurse anesthetist, remember everyone who is in those roles has worked hard for many years to reach the position they are in.
There might come some days where you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, and all your efforts amount to nothing. Remember – every piece of the experience is sacred, and even the act of seeking out further education shows you have the motivation to make it. The key to making it is to not give up, so keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles present themselves.
By advancing your nursing career, you could end up in a lucrative, respected, and satisfying career for the rest of your life. So, work hard, gain experience, and never give up on your goals.