How to Achieve Your Career Goals in the Nursing Profession 

A day in the life of a nurse is relentless, to say the least. 

You are on your feet for long hours, rushing from one patient to the next, with seldom a chance to breathe, let alone think about your career. 

That being said, there are a wide range of exciting opportunities for professional development within the nursing sector. You just need to make sure you find the time to explore them. 

Within the below blog, you will discover exactly what it is that you need to do in order to achieve your career goals in the nursing profession. 

Whether you have always dreamt of being a nurse-midwife, you look to educate the next generation of nurses, or you simply want to find out more about your options for growth within the sector, all you need to do is keep reading to become one step closer to achieving your goals as a nurse. 

Decide what you want 

As with any career, not just one in the field of nursing, you need to be clear about what you want to achieve, both in the short term and the long term. 

If you are unsure how to set career objectives, then you may want to follow the SMART goals method:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Attainable 
  • Realistic 
  • Time-based

So, each goal that you set needs to adhere to the above objectives. One of the most beneficial aspects of setting SMART goals is that it allows you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, which can prove instrumental in achieving your career goals. 

Make time to think about your career

As mentioned, it can be difficult to find time as a busy, working nurse to think about your career. However, no one else is going to do it for you, so if you want to accomplish your goals, you need to be committed. 

Schedule some time in your diary to take proactive steps to reach your goals and take the next step in your nursing journey. Some of the short-term goals you may want to set for yourself include:

  • Research online universities that specialize in advanced nursing degrees
  • Check out the current job market in your local area 
  • Enquire about shadowing opportunities at your place of employment 
  • Find out any volunteering opportunities 
  • Ask your line manager about any staff training or mentorship programs 
  • Attend any open recruitment days 

Even if you just set aside 1 hour per week to think about your career and what you need to do to reach your goals, this can help you move one step closer to your dream job. 

Take an advanced degree

While in some industries, you can get to the top with just hard work and determination, within the nursing sector, you need to make sure you have the right qualifications if you want to climb the career ladder. 

Whatever education level you are currently at, taking the next step qualification-wise will bring you one step closer to reaching your career goals. 

Although a master of science in nursing was once one of the most popular nursing degrees, many nursing professionals are now seeking out more advanced programs such as online AGNP programs. 

The beauty of an online nursing degree over a traditional on-campus one is that you don’t need to worry about booking a sabbatical from work or rushing about from a shift to a class. You can study when and where you want. Plus, online nursing degrees are often more affordable than on-campus ones, and they can sometimes be completed within shorter timeframes. 

Choose a specialty 

If you have a specific area of nursing that you feel passionate about or one you can see yourself working in, then you need to seek out training and education within this area. 

By narrowing down your goals, you can set short- and long-term objectives that are actually achievable. 

If you are uncertain about what area of nursing you would like to go into, it can be a good idea to ask your superior if there are any shadowing opportunities where you work. Alternatively, you could seek a mentor who can offer advice on how you can progress in your career and choose your specialty. 

Become an authority 

Although you may always hear that the healthcare industry is crying out for nurses, you may be surprised to know that more high-level positions are actually fairly competitive. Therefore, you need to find ways to stand out from your colleagues. 

One of the most efficient ways to do this is by setting yourself up as a voice of authority within your team. Although you may not be a nurse leader, that doesn’t mean that you can can’t be the nurse that everyone turns to when there is an issue or conflict that needs resolving. 

The more trusted you are amongst your peers, the more likely management are to notice you and support you with career advancement and promotional opportunities. 

If you are not sure how to become more of an authoritative figure amongst your team, it can be a good idea to make sure you keep informed about industry trends, new policies, and anything else relating to the industry you operate within. 

Look into certifications 

As well as advanced degree programs, if you want to differentiate yourself from other potential candidates, then nursing certifications are highly beneficial. 

Becoming certified demonstrates that you have expertise within your field and can help you to achieve your long-term career goals. It is also worth noting that these certifications are becoming increasingly commonplace amongst registered nurses, so you need them in order to remain competitive. 

There are so many nursing certifications that you can obtain depending on the area of nursing that you want to specialize in. Some of the most popular certifications for registered nurses are:

  • Holistic nursing certification 
  • Nurse executive certification
  • Nursing informatics certification

It can also be highly beneficial to sign up to professional networks and forums, which can help you to stay in the loop and be informed about any job openings or opportunities in your local area. These are also the perfect place to network, which, as everyone knows, is the easiest way to climb the corporate career ladder.