Nursing is a rewarding profession, and this is not something that is up for debate. The impact that nurses and other healthcare professionals have on the lives of their patients can never be underestimated or undervalued. However, often as a registered nursing professional, you can find yourself wanting more. You can find that you want to advance your career, and you can find that you want to be more and offer more to your patients too. Often, to do this, you need to make a career move, and to put the wheels in motion, you have to plan out your move and orchestrate it so that it is successful. So, what plans should you be putting in place and what should you be thinking about, and of course, taking into account?
Making a Move – Is it the Right Time?
There is no real perfect time to make a career move. However, there is a right time. The right time will be when you feel ready to give more and offer more. It will be a time when you feel that you are not reaching your patients as well as you can. If you do not make a career move at a time that feels right, you can feel rushed into making a decision, and this can impact your success. You will know that the time is right for change and progression, and you will see signs and signals in your daily working routine. For example, you will see that standards of patient care need improving, and you will note that to take action in this area, you need to be higher up in the chain and definitely within leadership. To identify the right time to make a move within your career, you need to look at how you are feeling and at how well you are performing in your current role. For example, do you find that most of the time, you are feeling frustrated? Or do you find that you are not listened to or even valued or respected as much as you once were? Little signs and triggers can guide you and ensure that you make the right decision – so watch out for them.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
To make the right career move and to make one that has an impact on the lives of others, you must think about what you want to achieve. Where Do You Want to Make a Difference? And, within hat areas would you like to make changes? You cannot make a successful career move if you are uncertain or even unsure about what you want to achieve. If you do make a move without certainty, you may find that your credibility and reputation are tarnished, and unfortunately, this can be something that is hard to rebuild. So, before you make the next move, you need to take some time out of your current role. Take a step back and look at what you want to achieve next. For example, would you like to make a difference in adult care, or would you like to focus on mental health and wellbeing? What do you value, and what is important to you moving forwards?
Changing Your Specialism
A career move can be as little or as big as you want it to be, and sometimes you can find that you need a change in direction. This change in direction could actually be a change in the specialism. For example, if you are currently working with new mothers and within pediatrics, you may find that a shift to working with older aged patients may well be in order. If you enjoy working with patients and you enjoy forming relationships, you may want to stay with personal and hands-on care – however, you may benefit from changing your specialism or area of focus. To establish if a change in specialism is a career move you should look at making, you need to undertake a process of self-evaluation. Look at a typical working week and chart your high points and your low points. See where you are getting satisfaction out of your role, and also see where the negative elements are creeping in. When you undertake a process of self-evaluation (ideally over a period of weeks or months, and not just days), you see firsthand just where changes are needed and why.
Talk to Other Nursing Professionals
Within the healthcare environment, and even externally, you have to realize that you are not alone. You should never feel isolated as a nursing professional. Being able to reach out to others and being able to talk to other nursing professionals is important. Focus on talking to those that you work with and focus on those who are within your wider network. When you talk about your plans and your desires for your nursing career and future, you can often find that other professionals can have useful input to add that is full of value. You may also find that other nursing professionals have experience, knowledge, and wisdom which they can impart to you and your choices. When you talk to other nursing professionals (both internally and externally) in your workplace, you get a deeper insight into what you can offer and just where you can make a difference. This is something that is difficult to ascertain and achieve by yourself.
Creating a Career Plan
Once you have established what direction you want to head in, you then need to start putting together a career plan. A career plan can help you reach your potential, and it can help you achieve your ambitions (no matter how big they are). A career plan can evolve just like you do, and it can change to suit your circumstances and your position as a nursing professional. Having a career plan in place can give you stability and structure, and it can allow you to push forwards in the right direction. To produce a career plan, you must break what you want to achieve and by when. By doing this, you can then begin to start setting goals and targets for the immediate future and for the long-term too. You can create a career plan by yourself, or you could seek the input of other professionals, such as those on the leadership team where you work and even mentors who may be guiding you.
Building a Support Network
No matter how small or big the changes are that you want to make, you will always find that support is beneficial. Knowing that you have friends, family members, and colleagues there to support you and even guide you is valuable. When you have a support network in place, you have the freedom and the room to develop what you want and to pursue your ambitions. Knowing that you have others to talk to and just bounce ideas off) can give you a boost of confidence, and sometimes this may be all that you need. To build a strong and sustainable support network, you have to make sure that support is reciprocal. Support is not a one-way street, and it is crucial that you provide support to others. When you give and receive support, you will find that any career moves you wish to make will be easier to undertake.
Advancing Your Education
Your education is key to your success, and it is important that you invest in furthering and improving your education. When you focus your time and energy on advancing your education, you open up more prospects and avenues, and you look at new career directions too. For example, if you wish to change specialisms within your career, then you can look at online AGACNP programs, which would allow you to look at providing acute care and support for older people. Or, if you would like to help families grow together, you may want to look at family nurse practitioner programs. When you advance your knowledge, you certainly put yourself in a stronger position for success because you give yourself an edge over the competition. When you are looking at advancing your education, you need to think about where to study and when. Think carefully about your options and weigh up the possibilities. For example, do you want to take a step back from working to focus your full time and energy on your studies? Or would you prefer to study online, from home, and around your existing commitments?
Enhancing Your Skillset
As well as focusing on advancing your education, you also need to focus on your skillset. The skillset that you hold as a registered nurse is crucial to your role and to other roles moving forwards. To enhance your skillset, you have to look at what you currently have to offer (and also what needs work and improvement). For example, is one of your great soft skills communication? Do you find communicating with lots of people easy and comfortable? Or is communication an area that you need to work on? When you can establish where improvement is required within your skillset, you can then start taking positive steps. Really evaluate your skillset and look at what you did or how you handled a situation recently. Establish just what hard skills, and soft skills you need to work on, why, and by when.
Strengthening Your Abilities and Qualities
Alongside focusing on your skills, you will also benefit from strengthening your abilities and qualities. For example, if you are empathetic but not sympathetic – is this something that you could work on? Or, if you lack the ability to lead others, then why not start focusing on proactive behavior to change this. Your abilities and qualities shape you as a nursing professional, and as such, they are always areas that are under development or even in progress. Being critical of yourself and looking at where you can strengthen your approach will be essential to help you move forwards. If you cannot see where your weaknesses exist, then how can you focus on being stronger, and how can you focus on building a sustainable career?
Making a Difference in Your Local Community
Your local community needs you more than you realize. It is important to make a difference and an impact on your community if you can. To do this, you may look at moving into community care. Or you may look at assisting families and being their FNP (family nurse practitioner. There are lots of ways in which you can use your nursing experience to make a difference in your local community, and this could be through a paid role or even a voluntary opportunity. To establish just where you can make a difference in your local area, you could start looking at local services on offer in the state that you live or work within. Are they adequate, or is there room for improvement?
Looking at a Leadership Position
Within your time as a nurse, you will have seen lots of things that you will wish to change, and by obtaining a leadership position, you will find you are in a place to action these changes. When you are looking at going for a leadership position, you may wish to become a nursing leader within a healthcare setting. Or you may wish to look at becoming a leader within a community care setting. Being in a leadership position gives you a chance and opportunity to use your experience directly and make improvements to care standards and quality of care.
Giving Yourself Enough Time
When you are ready to make your next move, it is important to give yourself as much time as you need. Rushing your decision or rushing into something that does not feel quite right could end up having detrimental effects on the rest of your career. Be cautious and be careful, and always try to analyze and assess an opportunity before you follow it through. Giving yourself tight timelines to work towards in terms of progression could leave you feeling stressed and unnecessarily overwhelmed.
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