Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Beth Skwarecki
The healthcare industry has been growing exponentially, and nurses are this industry’s frontline workers. Because of their integral role in the healthcare sector, nurses are sought-after professionals by healthcare facilities willing to pay high salaries.
However, such a rewarding and lucrative career does not come without a challenge. A day in the life of a nurse typically involves making critical decisions and managing responsibilities to improve patient outcomes. In such a situation, advancing your career to gain access to better positions can be tough. Not to mention, the job market for nurses is becoming saturated and competitive.
Keeping this in mind, nurses must be willing to put in the effort to stand out from the crowd to advance in their careers. It’s possible to do so, given enough time. So, to help you secure a successful future in the healthcare industry, here are some tips for advancing your career.
Continue your education
As new technologies and knowledge become mainstream, the healthcare sector continues to change rapidly. In such a situation, nurses must continue their education to adapt to modern work practices and technology. Without doing so, you will find it hard to integrate modern healthcare practices into your work and improve patient care. So, keep an eye out for continuing education opportunities.
For instance, you can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to learn new skills and enhance your knowledge. Such advanced degrees allow you access to several new occupations and provide you with advanced qualifications. Moreover, you can now enroll in and complete accelerated online BSN programs if you don’t have time for a full-time on-campus program. These flexible learning opportunities allow you to continue your education with a hybrid learning model.
Do a specialization
When it comes to advancing in your career, specialization is essential. Nursing is a diverse aspect of healthcare, and there are many opportunities to focus on a particular type of care or patient group. Without focusing on a niche to specialize in, you will not have a clear path to follow. Without guidance, you won’t be able to move forward in your career. A generalized set of skills and knowledge will only give you access to lower-level occupations. On the other hand, higher and advanced occupations require a specific set of skills to take care of the job effectively. So, choose a niche you want to advance into.
For this purpose, you must understand whether you want to progress as a practicing nurse or as a nurse manager. Both fields can prove to be equally lucrative and enjoyable, depending on what your interests are. To identify the right specialization for yourself, you can seek opportunities that provide exposure to different areas of nursing care. For example, you can volunteer for new roles in different healthcare departments. Doing so will allow you to learn about other specializations and make the right decision.
According to studies, as much as 80% of jobs are acquired through professional networks. This means that the vast majority of jobs never reach public job listings. So, if you lack professional contacts and networks, you’ll find it much harder to find opportunities to advance your career. Building a network allows you to be seen by potential employers, which increases your chances of landing new jobs. So don’t just focus on enhancing your skills, but also prioritize bringing those skills into the spotlight through networking.
Joining a professional nursing organization is the first step toward building and expanding your professional network. As part of the organization, you will get the chance to meet researchers, experienced nurses, and other healthcare professionals that may offer you higher job positions. These individuals will also help guide you toward the right path for career advancement and provide you with important advice.
Get a mentor
Beginning a career as a nurse can be quite challenging, as you must quickly adapt to workplace stress and handle tough responsibilities. In such a situation, several nurses fail to settle into the workplace and make mistakes while trying to advance in their careers. However, you don’t always need to learn how to progress in your career the hard way. Getting an experienced nurse as a mentor to provide guidance and advice can help you avoid the challenges you may encounter as a novice. This will give your career a nudge, leading to faster career advancement.
You can use your professional network to find yourself a mentor and ask for help. Several people will be willing to transfer their skills and knowledge to you, as it also helps them grow. You can also ask experienced senior nurses in your workplace for help.
Focus on self-care
Being a nurse is no easy feat. You often have to work for hours on end while juggling countless responsibilities and enduring high levels of job stress. According to a 2020 survey, two-thirds of nurses suffered from burnout. Mental and physical health issues put nurses and their patients at risk. Nurses experiencing burnout can make several mistakes that can adversely impact patient outcomes. So, if you want to prove yourself as a successful nurse for a higher job position, it’s crucial to avoid burnout.
For this purpose, focusing on self-care should be on your priority list. Avoid working continuously and take breaks to relax your body and mind. Exercising regularly to reduce stress and increase your energy levels to perform your job effectively is equally important. At the end of the day, remember to get a good night’s rest to give your body time for recovery.
Nursing jobs offer high salaries and benefits that contribute to high job satisfaction. However, advancing your nursing career and gaining access to such job benefits is no easy feat. But it’s possible to do so effectively by following the right steps. So, remember the tips mentioned above and prepare yourself for a successful future as a nurse.
Beth is Cloudmineinc’s senior health editor and a certified personal trainer. She has over 10 years experience as a science journalist and is the author of two books. She deadlifts over 315 lbs.