Nursing is a popular choice among students today and is still America's largest healthcare profession. A survey shows that over 4.2 million nurses work across many healthcare settings nationwide, but 203,000+ more nursing positions will open up this decade.
However, many RNs face burnout due to understaffing, tiring workloads, and a challenging work environment. While nurses need to look after their physical and mental well-being to avoid burnout, another solution to tackle workplace challenges involves finding ways to move ahead in their careers and tap into opportunities that have more to offer.
If you're looking for ways to advance in your nursing career, here's what you need to know:
1) Define your Goals
Your career advancement journey begins with determining your goals and objectives. How do you define “success,” and what do you hope to get from your education? Decide what kind of a nurse you plan to be. Unless you clarify your end goals, advancing your career will be difficult.
Success can mean a better salary, more time with family beings, a chance to make some changes in the nursing field, or all of these things combined. So, determine what's your endgame.
2) Explore Continuing Education
Higher education has become important for every profession nowadays. Many states are trying to make a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)mandatory for all nurses, e.g., in New York. However, acquiring a masters or doctorate in nursing can make more opportunities available. Distance learning can help you accomplish your academic objectives with ease. So, consider pursuing an MSN to DNP online degree to prepare for future leadership opportunities.
3) Choose a Specialization
Narrow down your favorite subjects and specialize in a particular field of your choice. That's how you can find a job better suited to your interests and goals. Many nurses, for instance, prefer to work with children, so they may prefer prenatal, neonatal, or pediatric nursing. However, nurses more comfortable with treating older adults opt for geriatrics. There's no lack of high-paying nursing specializations, e.g., FNPs, cardiac nurses, or nurse anesthetists.
4) Get Advanced Certifications
Advanced nursing certifications can boost your medical expertise and help you move ahead in your nursing career. Some certifications are necessary for your nursing practice and you must renew them punctually to stay relevant. For instance, BLS certifications help RNs recognize life-threatening situations and perform. Similarly, PALS certifications are useful when treating babies and children. You can explore a variety of nursing certifications to add to your resume and become more employable for better opportunities.
The nursing profession has low retention rates. It's believed that 17% of 30% of nurses leave within their first year. However, these numbers are reduced when RNs create some meaningful connections within their organizations. Networking is important for RNs; it helps them make their job more meaningful and lowers the chances of dissatisfaction at work. Also, networking can help nurses advance their nursing careers by connecting with healthcare recruiters on the lookout to hire skilled nurses.
6) Find Mentorship Opportunities
Simply put, a mentor can be described as any senior working in this vocation longer than you. Mentors are necessary for your career advancement as they're veterans familiar with the science and secrets of nursing, so you can learn much from their experiences. You should interact with your senior and fish out the right person to guide you through workplace challenges. Use this information to excel in your career.
7) Become a Part of Nursing Organizations
Join professional nursing organizations to expand your network and learn about new jobs within the industry. These organizations can help you access academic resources as well as professional growth opportunities and the latest nursing tech. Some organizations worth joining are the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA), or the International Council of Nurses (ICN) to advance your career. You can find relevant information about these organizations online and then contact them via different social media platforms to get answers to any queries.
8) Follow Nursing blogs
Another amazing way to become a better-educated and advanced-practice nurse is to follow the right nursing blogs. Whenever you're free or taking a break from patient rounds, go online and read some of these informative blogs and articles to build on your existing knowledge, steal a few nursing life hacks, or look for job opportunities. Here are some nursing blogs that post good content:
- Daily Nurse
- Frugal Nurse
- Nurse Nicole
- Minority Nurse
- Minding the Beside
9) Focus on Self-Care
Even in 2001, more than 40% of hospital-assigned RNs suffered burnout. Because of COVID, these numbers have risen significantly, and even modest estimations concur that one-half of nurses are burnt out today. You can advance your nursing career by focusing more on self-care. Don't allow your ambitions to come between you and a good night's rest. Create a healthy work-life balance to improve your mental health. Don't forget that healthy nurses are more productive in clinical settings. So, eat healthy food, exercise more often, and take short breaks between shifts to rest a little.
10) Empower your Patients
Successful nurses empower, educate, and advocate on their patient's behalf. As a result, patients are able to take control of their well-being, which leads to better patient outcomes. You should educate patients and offer relevant jargon-free bite-sized medical information to help them improve their journey to recovery. Well-informed patients make a nurse's work easier, therefore, making the latter more productive at their job.
Career advancement offers numerous benefits, including better pay, higher job satisfaction, and a healthier work-life balance. So if you're struggling to make progress at the workplace, consider following the tips mentioned above. Better credentials on your resume, increasing your knowledge, and nurturing more professional connections with people in your field can help you find your dream job.