One thing that we are often asked here at NJI is how to advance your career as a staff nurse. You may love your job as a staff nurse, but sometimes you may feel like you have more potential than your current position. So without any further ado, here are our top tips on how to advance your career as a staff nurse.
Do you know where your nursing career will take you in the next five years? What about the next 10 or 20 years?
Here are our top tips for advancing your own nursing career:
- Invest in your education.
As is true for all career paths, education is extremely important in advancing your career. With each degree in nursing or certificate in a specialised nursing program you gain, you will have more and more options for new opportunities. With more opportunities, it is more likely that one will find a position that is a perfect fit for you and your career goals. Some nurses may need to simultaneously work and go to school to take advantage of the stepladder approach to nursing education, but it will pay off in the long term career wise. There is an increasing importance of advanced degrees when it comes to progressing your nursing career, and most positions in advanced practice, leadership, teaching and research require master’s and doctoral degrees.
A more educated nurse is a safer nurse. Education requires a commitment. It is a personal journey that takes time and energy, but it also provides rewards, both professionally and personally.
- Build and utilise your networks.
It is important to Learn to network within your health care organization and outside it. When you meet new people, you exchange ideas and gain information about new approaches to solve common problems. Professional social networking is also becoming increasingly crucial in our society and networking and community is becoming more central to how we do business.
While networking is clearly important for career advancement, it should also be seen as a source of learning and new ideas.
- Establish a mentoring relationship.
This is a great tip, however it does take time to develop a mentor-mentee relationship and it cannot be forced. As a nurse, you can take some steps to become a mentee by first identifying someone whom they feel comfortable with and whom they consider a role model within the nursing industry. Asking the mentor for career advice, suggestions and guidance is a good way to initiate the relationship
- Always pursue professionalism.
The most important and professional things that you can do as a nurse are: be honest, maintain confidentiality about patients, offering respect for the individual, cultivating strong interpersonal skills in dealing with people, keeping a positive attitude, maintaining competency and keeping up to date in your work. It is important for nurses to present themselves as professionals both on the job and off- if you want to progress in your career, it’s important that your employers see you as a professional nurse who is suitable for more responsibility within your role. It may sound like standard advice, but also make sure to keep your social media profiles professional, as employers really do check them out.
- Continue personal and professional development
Developing yourself as a person will also have a positive impact on your career. You should focus on communication skills such as conflict management, active listening and clear, effective writing, as well as honing skills in problem solving.
Start to think of yourself as a leader, and cultivate your leadership skills and abilities. Begin displaying your leadership skills within your own health care setting. As you become comfortable as a leader, look for other opportunities both within and outside your organisation, you will also find that when you are thinking like a leader, people will value your opinion and opportunities will start coming to you.
- Find what you like to do
Our biggest tip to all nurses, is to find what you like to do in your career and do the best job possible and seek out work environments that are positive and growth promoting. Your career isn’t going to prosper if you don’t feel passionate about what you do, so make sure that you love your area of work within the nursing industry.
So there are our top tips on how to advance your career as a staff nurse! Keep your eye out for nursing positions that fall outside what you are doing now- Job advertisements and articles about nurses in other settings will open your thinking about career opportunities. Also remember that around 50% of nursing jobs are outside the hospital, so don’t limit yourself! If you are a newly graduated nurse who is preparing for your first job, check out our blog on the topic. You can also take a look at our job listings which we update daily.