How To Successfully Progress To The Next Stage Of Your Nursing Career

Nursing Specialisation

August 17th, 2021   |   Updated on June 28th, 2022

Finding yourself trapped in a career that appears stagnant can be an exceptionally uncomfortable position to be in, even if that career is one as indispensable as nursing.

It can be difficult to feel as though you are reaching your full potential if you do not have the room you need to seek out further opportunities, to develop your skillset, or to find new avenues in which to apply your unique set of skills.

Thankfully, the world of nursing is rife with the opportunity to grow and specialize; it just takes a little self-motivation, a dedication to learning, and a genuine passion for helping others.

If you are already a nurse, you will no doubt possess these traits, along with many others, and in fact, you are probably already on course for taking your career to the next level.
Here are some tips you might want to consider in order to help you decide which direction is best for you.

Take a Long-Term View of the Situation

In healthcare, career progression can have the habit of taking a great deal of time, especially when considering the amount of work, studying, experience, and placements you need to put into it.

Drawing up a plan, complete with a timeframe and an end goal, can help you reduce this time and get you on the right path as soon as possible.

If you do not yet know what exactly it is you want to do, there is no need to worry; asking around at work and searching for opportunities and job titles online might spur your enthusiasm for a particular subject.

Sometimes, your ideal career step can sneak up on you out of nowhere as a simple result of gaining more experience in your current role.

Returning to Education

In many ways, nobody ever leaves education. The best professionals are always learning and keeping their minds open to brand-new possibilities whenever they get a chance.

Formal education, on the other hand, is a different concept entirely. In some cases, there will likely be little more than an accredited certificate standing between you and the next stage of your career.

The value of academia is immense in the world of healthcare, so returning to a great educational institution should always be a prospect close to the forefront of your mind.

For example, Carson-Newman University offers a wonderful online post-master’s program for anyone wishing to pursue a rewarding career as an FNP. The courses can be taken in an entirely online capacity, making them an ideal choice for anyone wanting to learn alongside their current role.

Online learning might be the perfect area to explore for the busiest individuals among you, those who do not want to necessarily sacrifice their current job to take up education.

Moreover, you can study from wherever in the world you happen to be that has an internet connection, so for many, this flexibility aspect makes returning to education an enticing and completely viable prospect.

Develop Your Existing Set of Skills

In order to make sure you are sufficiently prepared for the journey ahead, it might be worth revisiting your skillset and taking time to conduct some self-assessment.

This can be an important process in terms of both personal and professional development, so it should not be underestimated by any stretch.

It may be worth thinking about which skills could use some work, which skills you are most proud of, and which ones you will need to be using in the future.

  • Compassion and Understanding – As a nurse, you will likely have compassion and understanding as far as the eye can see. These are traits that never stop being valuable, not only in work but in life as a whole. Nurturing your ability to utilize your compassion to connect with patients and colleagues alike should be a task that never stops.
  • Leadership Skills – All nurses are leaders. They represent the value of healthcare, offer direction, support, and guidance to patients while finding the strength to make split-second decisions that could be the difference between life and death. Leadership also pertains to your ability to carry the responsibility of a team, however, so it is worth thinking about whether or not you would like to do this in the future.
  • A Wonderful Attitude – As you will already know, the reality of working in healthcare can put you in some seriously distressing and upsetting situations. Your ability to handle them with a positive attitude, day in and day out, will define you as an individual to be respected and relied upon in times of great turmoil.
  • Preparation, Organization, and Experience – Your ability to prepare yourself to move forward based on your practical experience will help you stand apart from the crowd, but it is worth remembering that, as with all good endeavors, this can take time.

Defining Your Vision of Progression

The question of, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ Is as cliché as it is important, as the ability to answer it can help you define your vision of progression, what the concept of success means to you, and which direction your career will take in the near future.

It can be a frighteningly obtuse question to answer, but it should nonetheless be prepared for with a few tricks and techniques.

For example, returning to the basics and thinking about why you decided to become a nurse in the first place is a good way to come up with the reasoning behind wanting a change and what that change might look like based on your fundamental principles and beliefs.

If you do not know what you are aiming for, there is little chance you will hit the target.

Building a Support Network

A little help from your friends can go an incredibly long way, according to the Beatles, so it may be worth reaching out to those you trust and start asking for advice.

Even if it is just to share your thoughts and feelings, opening up about your desire to move forward with your career can hopefully give you some perspective.

Talking to fellow nurses is another great way to do this, as they have first-hand experience of the industry that matches your very own. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that the healthcare industry can be extremely competitive at times. In many ways, ignoring this competitiveness and instead standing by your values is perhaps one of the best ways to showcase your integrity.

LinkedIn is still a great platform for reaching out to other professionals and companies, so if you can think of a position that you might to go for, a nurse educator, for example, why not reach out to one for advice with a friendly message?

A Mentor

An important part of any network is often a mentor figure, one that can offer you advice from a place of knowledge, experience, and a desire to help.

They are not always easy to find, so it could be worth outlining what it is you want from a mentor figure before you start asking around.

What Do You Need?

This may come across as mind-bendingly obvious, but it can be easy to forget. What is it that you need exactly?

Whether this is family to look after, young kids to raise, rent to pay, or investments to be made, most people have commitments of some kind.

Thinking about your priorities first and foremost can also help to inform the direction you eventually decide to take.

Some careers in advanced nursing can be extremely time-consuming, while others may offer more freedom to work around your current commitments.

Putting your own priorities first is a must if you aim to land a job that is ultimately better than your current one; otherwise, you might have made a change for the worse.

Taking Care of Yourself

Working in healthcare can be a strenuous job regardless of who you happen to be. Even the most high-energy, motivated, and committed individuals can suffer from burnout if they fail to take note of their physical and mental health along the way.

Striving to progress to the next stage of your career does in no way you need to push yourself to the limit, and if you have been doing so, it might be time to take your nursing career in a different direction.

There are plenty of non-bedside roles to consider, and they can be vastly rewarding for those who love the job but need a change of scenery.

Some of these positions include an FNP, a nurse educator, a school nurse, a consultant, a medical writer, a forensic nurse, or of course, a travel nurse.

This list is not exhaustive; there are hundreds of possibilities to choose from, one of which will be perfect for you.

No matter which direction you decide to end up taking, the world of healthcare is diverse and intriguing and one that needs support from indefatigable individuals just like you.