This post was most recently updated on July 25th, 2023
Nursing is a vital and respected profession that plays a crucial role in healthcare delivery. It is a challenging but highly rewarding career that offers countless opportunities for growth and advancement. However, with the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, nurses must stay informed and actively seek ways to advance their careers.
Whether through further education, obtaining certifications, networking, or participating in research, advancement in a nursing career can lead to greater job satisfaction, higher earning potential, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. In this article, we will be discussing nine actionable steps nurses can take to advance their careers.
1. Pursue further education and training
One of the best ways to advance your nursing career is to continue your education and training. This could include obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or pursuing a certification in a specialized area of nursing practice.
One popular option that many nurses consider is transitioning from an RN to a BSN degree.
The RN to BSN program is designed for working nurses looking to complete a BSN while maintaining their current job. Online RN to BSN programs can be a great option, as they allow you to take classes on your schedule, making it easier to balance your education with your work and personal commitments.
It’s worth considering the cost of RN to BSN programs, as they can vary depending on the school or program you choose, but the overall investment can be worth it in the long run.
2. Get certified in your specialty
Nurses can gain a lot of credibility and recognition by getting certified in their specialty area of practice. Certification shows that you have a high level of knowledge and expertise in your field and can help you stand out in a competitive job market.
Many certification programs are available, including critical care, gerontological, and oncology nursing. One can choose a type of specialty depending upon their interest and technical soundness and pave their way to career advancement.
3. Get involved in research
Participating in research is an excellent way for nurses to contribute to the advancement of their field, and it can also help them build their skills and expertise. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations have research departments that welcome the participation of nurses.
Some even pay for you to go to conferences and present findings, which can also be a great way to travel and get recognized. The best thing about researching your major subject is that it adds to your portfolio and helps your career.
4. Teach or mentor others
Another great way to advance your nursing career is to teach or mentor other nurses. This could include serving as a clinical instructor, teaching a continuing education course, or mentoring new nurses on your unit.
Teaching can be a great way to build your leadership skills and gain credibility in your field, while mentoring can help you develop a deeper understanding of your profession. Many researchers have found that nurses who taught or mentored others experienced greater job satisfaction and reported higher levels of professional development.
5. Build your network
Networking is critical to success in any field, and nursing is no exception. By building a strong network of contacts in your field, you can learn about new job opportunities, get advice from experienced nurses, and gain support and guidance from your peers.
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), networking is critical to success in nursing and can provide access to career opportunities and valuable resources and support from colleagues. You can do this by attending nursing conferences and workshops, joining professional organizations, or volunteering in your community.
6. Find a mentor
As a nurse, it’s always helpful to have someone who’s been through the trenches, someone to help guide you and give you advice. Having a mentor can give you the support you need to navigate your way through the ups and downs of your career.
You can begin by looking around the senior work professionals in your ward or seek mentorship from senior personnel at the hospital. It can be a nurse in the field for a long time, a manager or a supervisor at your hospital, or someone you meet at a professional development event.
7. Stay informed about industry trends
Healthcare is constantly changing, and it’s essential to stay informed about the latest trends and developments. This could include reading industry publications, attending conferences and workshops, or participating in professional development courses.
By staying informed, you’ll better understand your field’s challenges and identify opportunities for advancement. Though it is not a rule, it is safe to say that nurses who stay current with the latest developments in their field have higher chances of job advancement and express more confidence in their practice.
8. Get involved in leadership positions
Nurses can take on leadership roles within their organizations, such as serving on committees, becoming charge nurses, or working as managers. These positions can help you develop your leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare system.
Additionally, it can allow you to be in a position of influence, make changes and improvements in your workplace, and help out your peers.
9. Never stop learning
Advancement in any profession requires continuous learning, and nursing is no exception. Keeping up with the latest evidence-based practice and clinical developments can help you provide better care for your patients, and it can also help you stay engaged and motivated in your work.
It can be attending a conference, taking a course, or reading up on the latest research.
In conclusion, there are many ways that nurses can advance their careers. Some key things nurses can do include continuing their education, taking on leadership roles, and becoming certified in their specialty area.
Additionally, networking with other nurses and staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments can help nurses advance their careers. Overall, nurses who are committed to learning and growth can adapt to the changing healthcare landscape and will be well-positioned for career success.