After dedicating a significant amount of time to study so that you can embark on your dream career as a nurse, you might think you’re at the end of your growth period. However, even though you’ve now got the job you’ve always wanted, you don’t have to stop pushing yourself to get even further ahead. You might be able to enhance your nursing career in some of the following ways.
Technology and best practices are changing rapidly, so completing second degree accelerated BSN programs online can be in your best interest for both career prospects and exceptional patient care. As you spend your days or nights caring for patients, you can also complete online units that you can fit around your regular commitments. Such a course can ensure your competence and confidence in the foundations of nursing practice, medical and surgical nursing, nursing care of children and older adults, and even professional transitions.
By the time you’ve completed your BSN program, you’ll likely be confident in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and cultural humanity. You’re bound to also take a more evidence-based approach to nursing, have more professional values, and have an in-depth understanding of modern information technology in the medical industry and knowledge of healthcare policies.
Take Advantage of Learning Opportunities
Even if you’re not ready to delve into study programs to further your career, never be afraid to take advantage of learning opportunities offered through your place of business or within your industry. Many of these opportunities might be voluntary, but if you have the time and believe you’ll learn skills relevant to your nursing field, consider setting time aside to participate.
Sometimes, you learn about these opportunities through your superiors or co-workers, but they are also often advertised on nursing forums, hospital notice boards, and through foundations and programs you’re already associated with. The more courses and programs you sign up for, the more you can learn and the more information you can include on your resume for future job opportunities.
Make Your Desires Known
Many people are happy working as a nurse in the same position throughout their careers without advancing or being promoted. However, if advancement has always been your goal, make it known to your superiors at your earliest opportunity.
If they’re made aware of your desire to improve, educate yourself, and enhance your skills, they might be more inclined to involve you in training programs, create shadowing opportunities, and provide time off for training, volunteering, and study. They might even come to you when they want a member of staff to take on more responsibility, especially if they think you’re up to the job.
Communication is integral to the healthcare industry, and your ability to communicate your professional needs and desires might produce more benefits and opportunities than you thought possible.
Achieve Work-Life Balance
Working as a nurse can be challenging, especially with long work hours, complex cases, and nursing shortages. As difficult as it might be to achieve a work-life balance, it can be necessary for your mental well-being and patient care.
Learn to say no to extra and double shifts, and set time aside each year for well-earned vacations and long weekends. As much as you might love your job, dedicating every moment to it can put you at risk of burnout, potentially compromising patient care and impacting your growth opportunities.
Many people find establishing a work-life balance challenging, especially when they’re passionate about their job, patients, and co-workers. However, you can take baby steps toward achieving your overall goal.
For example, you might like to start by taking 30-second microbreaks, which can be essential in a fast-paced industry. Take as many allocated breaks as you can on top of these microbreaks, and use your lunch breaks to fuel your body with the right foods for energy and well-being.
Prioritizing your own health, even while looking after the health of others, can also be crucial on your journey to balance. Consider gratitude practices, daily meditation, and regular exercise. When you eventually achieve balance, you might enjoy many of the far-reaching benefits, such as potentially fewer health issues, higher levels of productivity, and maybe even fewer burnouts.
Volunteer for Extra Responsibility
As long as you won’t be impacting your ability to achieve a healthy work-life balance, consider the benefits associated with volunteering for extra responsibilities. For example, a staff shortage might see you assisting with something you’re qualified to do but have never been given the opportunity to help with. Alternatively, you might take on a voluntary role within a nursing project or assist on a complex case that might open professional doors in the future.
While many people shy away from taking on extra responsibilities outside of their job description, there’s always a chance that your availability for such tasks might lead to bigger and better things in the future. At a minimum, they will at least show your team that you’re dedicated, eager to learn, and passionate about your job. These are all excellent attributes that many employers look for when considering employees for promotion and investment.
Join Professional Networks
It’s easy to think that everything you need to know about health care and the medical industry is anything relating to your own clinic or hospital. However, much can happen within the industry outside of your own job that can be worth knowing for future job opportunities.
Joining professional networks or forums can be one of the most effective ways to ensure you remain up-to-date with the latest advancements, initiatives, laws, and news. There are a number of professional networks and forums on the internet accepting healthcare professionals as members, and once you’re in one, you can engage with your peers and be inspired and motivated to help people. Many medical professionals also find such networks helpful for finding out about job vacancies, events, and courses being held throughout the United States and beyond.
Be a Leader
If you ultimately aspire to be a leader in your field, there’s no reason why you can’t begin acting like one even before such an opportunity presents itself. For example, you might like to take new nurses under your wing and treat every task as a training opportunity. You might even volunteer yourself as a mentor for new nurses. The more leadership-type roles you take on, the easier you might find it to apply for such promotions in the future successfully.
You might not describe yourself as a born leader, but leadership can be a learned skill. It can start with building relationships with your co-workers, helping others see their own full potential, and leading change when you identify areas of improvement. You can also be an inspiration for others in your field, a critical thinker, and a communicator. Accountability for your own actions is also integral to being a leader and developing leadership skills.
Every medical professional can learn a lot from their colleagues, regardless of their ranking in the field. Don’t be afraid to ask questions whenever an opportunity arises to learn something new from those around you. Not only can you learn new things, but you might also be seen as someone with a drive to succeed and a thirst to be the best nurse you can be.
When you see a new surgical procedure being carried out, ask questions about it and perform your own research in your own time. If new technology is being introduced into the workplace, request training to use it to its full potential and learn about its features and how it can benefit your job. Be curious, and you might be surprised by how educated you can become, potentially leading to upskilling opportunities and promotions in the future.
You’re likely already taking on as many shifts as you can manage, but don’t rule out volunteering opportunities if you’ve got the time. Due to a lack of funding and limited upskilling opportunities, your current place of employment might not provide many chances for you to experience other areas of health care that you might consider pursuing in the future.
However, if you were to volunteer with hospices, charities, and even care homes, you might gain valuable experience and skills that might otherwise not be available. For example, if you’ve always been curious about end-of-life or palliative care, you might explore possible hospice volunteer positions. You might not be able to work in a medical capacity, but simply being in the environment and seeing what takes place might be all you need to think about whether you’d like to work in this field in the future.
If you realize that direction isn’t right for you through these volunteering opportunities, you haven’t wasted time or money pursuing education. However, you would have at least made a considerable difference in the lives of people in your care while volunteering.
All nurses have the opportunity to move up the ranks, but your actions might determine when such an opportunity is presented to you. Whether you’re a new nurse looking to upskill or a seasoned professional eyeing up a promotion, any of these tips above might be helpful.