Nursing is not your average profession; it is a calling. It is an essential profession that plays a critical role in the healthcare industry. It is highly rewarding and fulfilling, with various opportunities for growth and advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing is the largest healthcare occupation in the US. There are over 4 million registered nurses (RNs) in the US, as estimated by the American Nurses Association.
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the healthcare industry, providing compassionate care to patients and families.
Tips for Advancing Your Nursing Career
Are you a nurse but wondering how to advance your nursing career to the next level? In this article, we’ll provide some key tips to help you excel in your profession.
Obtain Higher Education
The first step is to obtain higher education.
Get a BSN or MSN
A BSN can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on more significant responsibilities in the healthcare industry. It also opens doors to other positions like a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse researcher.
If you already have a BSN, consider obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing degree. An MSN degree offers advanced training in areas such as nursing education, nursing administration, and nursing research. With an MSN degree, you can take on leadership roles in healthcare organizations or pursue a career in academia.
La Salle University has one of the best RN to BSN programs, for which it is ranked No. 1 among national universities in the Philadelphia region and No. 2 in Pennsylvania. Their online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) program is designed for registered nurses who want to advance their careers and become family nurse practitioners, with the flexibility of working around their own schedules. It offers a convenient online learning format that allows students to balance their education with their personal and professional responsibilities.
Get a DNP
A Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) is the highest qualification in the nursing field, and it is a valuable asset if you further wish to advance your nursing career.
A DNP program will prepare you to become an expert clinician, leader, and educator in the healthcare industry. As a student in a DNP program, you will learn advanced clinical skills, research methods, and leadership strategies. You will also gain experience in implementing evidence-based practice, managing healthcare systems, and advocating for patients and families. With a DNP degree, you can pursue various career opportunities, such as nurse executive, advanced practice registered nurse, and healthcare educator.
The nursing job outlook is estimated to grow 6% between 2021 and 2031, according to data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and over 203,200 openings for RNs are projected each year. This makes it an excellent field to seek out job opportunities and gain the experience required to advance in your field.
You can gain experience working in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or long-term care facilities. Working in different settings provides you with a diverse range of experiences and helps you develop a broader understanding of the healthcare industry.
You can also gain experience by taking on additional responsibilities in your current role. For example, you can volunteer to lead a project or mentor new nurses. Taking on extra responsibilities shows your commitment to your work and helps you develop new skills.
Nursing is a vast field, and getting a specialization is a valuable way to advance your career and build your earning potential. It will allow you to develop expertise in a specific area and provide appropriate, specialized patient care. It will also make you more competitive in the job market.
According to the American Nurses Association, there are over 100 nursing specialties, including acute and critical care, pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, and mental health.
Nurses with specialized certifications typically earn higher salaries than those without them. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses reveals that nurses with a specialization in critical care earn an average of $13,000 more per year than general nurses.
By pursuing a specialization, you can make a significant impact on the healthcare industry.
Network through Professional Organizations
Networking is a critical aspect of career advancement in nursing. Building relationships with other nurses, healthcare professionals, and industry leaders is essential. It can help you learn about new job opportunities, gain valuable advice, and receive recommendations for new jobs that you apply to.
Many professional nursing organizations, both local and national, offer opportunities to connect with other professionals in the field. They offer events, conferences, and online forums for members to share knowledge and experiences, through which you can learn about job opportunities and gain exposure to new ideas and trends in the field. You will also get to learn about new research and best practices in their area of expertise.
Some of the top nursing organizations include:
- American Nurses Association;
- National League for Nursing; and
- Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nursing, among others.
Joining professional organizations demonstrates a commitment to professional development and can enhance your resume and career prospects.
Mentorship is an excellent way to gain guidance and support in nursing. According to a study review published in the Journal of Professional Nursing, mentorship was found to be an important factor in the career development of nurses, especially in leadership, career planning, and professional growth. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and feedback to help you develop your existing skills and learn new ones. A mentor can also provide insight into the nursing profession, share their experiences, and provide advice on how to navigate complex situations.
In addition, seeking mentorship will help you build relationships with other professionals in the field, which can lead to job opportunities and other career benefits. According to a survey by the American Nurses Association, 76% of nurses reported that having a mentor was important to their career development.
You can seek mentors through professional organizations, academic institutions, and networking opportunities.
Nursing is a dynamic and ever-evolving profession that requires a lifelong commitment to learning and growth. Whether you are at the initial stages of your career or have been a nurse for many years, there is always room for advancement. Progressing in your nursing career requires a combination of education, experience, networking, and self-development. It is advisable to take a proactive approach to your career and seek growth opportunities. By following these tips, you can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to take on leadership roles in the healthcare industry and achieve your goals. Remember to keep an open mind and seek feedback to continuously improve your work as a nurse.