How to Boost Your Nursing Career

Are you ready to be more proactive in your chosen profession? No matter the time of year, you can resolve to give your nursing career a jump-start! If you’re new to the nursing profession, this is the year to begin figuring out who you are as a nurse--and who you want to become. If you’re a seasoned nurse, it may be time to re-examine your current path and give yourself a boost up the career ladder.

Here are eight proactive resolutions from the experts to get you on your way.

8 Strategies to Strengthen Your Nursing Career

1. Find your niche

If you haven’t already found your nursing niche, think about the professional environments that best suit you. “What do you really love doing?” said Elaine Smith, EdD, MBA, RN, ANEF, dean emerita for the Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Heath in New Jersey. “What makes you happiest when you’re doing it?”

Do you love spending time in direct patient care, or do you aspire to a management position? Do you feel most fulfilled in the adrenaline-fueled atmosphere of the emergency department, or in a community-based nursing position that gives you greater insight into patients and their families? Explore the possibilities and opportunities in various nursing specialties.

2. Discover your personal and professional strengths

What are you really good at? How could you possibly build on those particular talents and skills or capitalize on them at work? If you’re uncertain, talk to a trusted colleague or manager who could help you identify your talents and find new ways to apply them in your nursing career.

3. Beef up your nursing résumé

Make a list of things that could make you a more attractive job candidate and prioritize a couple of items that you can reasonably achieve in the coming months. Perhaps it is finally time to get certified in your nursing specialty; go online to find the requirements and get started. Or work on getting an article published in a professional journal, said Rebecca Lee, RN, a nurse manager in a New York City hospital. “Published articles look amazing on résumés and last a lifetime,” she said.

Other ways to build up your nurse résumé:

  • Participate in a committee at work.
  • Look for management opportunities, if that career path interests you.
  • Participate in a research project that will give you some hands-on experience.
  • Join a professional nursing organization.
  • Volunteer in a health-related capacity.

Finally, check out these tips for writing a winning nurse résumé.

4. Keep learning

You can enroll in a formal education program or make a commitment to lifelong learning on your own time.

  • Consider getting your BSN, MSN or DNP degree. Many schools offer bridge programs and accelerated programs for practicing nurses.
  • Read professional journals in your specialty area.
  • Complete continuing education units (CEUs) to stay fresh on the latest evidence-based information; several free courses are available to nurses who travel with American Mobile.
  • Attend a conference related to your nursing specialty or future interest.

5. Grow your professional network

Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating; just a few simple things can get you started.

  • Polish up your LinkedIn profile to ensure it reflects your experience. Follow professional associations, industry experts, nursing leaders, colleagues, etc.
  • Get involved in a local or state association, perhaps in your nursing specialty.
  • Ask for recommendations from nurse educators and managers to keep in your file, said Lee. This will help you maintain relationships with people in your network while building up your portfolio.

6. Find a mentor or career confidant - at any stage of your career

  • Consider reaching out to a nursing school professor, manager or colleague.
  • Look within professional and community organizations to find someone who has experience that may be useful to you.
  • Register for the American Nurses Association’s online mentoring program.
  • Your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be a nurse, either, noted Smith.

7. Think outside the box

Feel like you’re in a rut? If you would like a change of scenery, consider travel nursing. You can take a temporary assignment (usually 4 –13 weeks) in a different part of the country or close to home. Each assignment offers the chance to experience how things are done in different work environments, and the opportunity to explore new cities and attractions on your days off. The experience you gain through travel nursing jobs can also help beef up your résumé and your professional network.

8. Take care of yourself

No matter what else you do, be deliberate about scheduling in time to recharge your own batteries. Ask yourself--and respond honestly--“How am I balanced?” said Smith. “Where do I want to spend or need to spend time?” You can’t continue to invest in your patients if you haven’t also invested in yourself, she added. Need some ideas? Check out these 7 Self-care Activities for Travel Nurses.

If you’re interested in an adventurous career in travel nursing, apply today to talk to one of American Mobile’s recruiters.

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