Tips to Jumpstart Your Nursing Career in 2019
By Moira K. McGhee, Contributor
Nursing careers offer exceptional job security and lots of room for advancement with a wide variety of career paths you can pursue. However, when you’re first starting out, you may find it difficult to get your career in gear. As a new graduate, there are numerous ways to jump-start your nursing career. Many of these tips also work when you need to restart a stalled career.
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5 tips to advance nursing careers in 2019
“The role of the nurse is changing dramatically,” warns Dr. Cheryl Oetjen, Interim Director at the George Mason University School of Nursing. “Nurses in 2019 must change their lens to look beyond the bedside to embrace their role as care coordinators. Holistic care of the patient with a focus on wellness is essential.”
New and established nurses must also understand how essential it is to keep learning and moving forward on your chosen path. Kick your nursing career up a notch with five tips that help give you the momentum you need to succeed.
1. Continue your education
Probably one of the last things recent nursing school graduates want to think about is going back to school, but you should never stop learning. Continuing your education always provides a helpful boost, no matter where you are on the career ladder. With each nursing degree or certificate in a specialized nursing program you earn, the more doors of opportunity you open and the easier it’ll be to advance your nursing career.
“Many hospitals and other healthcare centers require nurses to hold a BSN,” Oetjen advises. “All RNs should consider completing their BSNs, which may earn them higher pay and make them more competitive in the workforce. Many schools offer programs like George Mason University’s flexible and fully online RN to BSN program. Our students can earn their BSN degree in as little as two full-time semesters.”
RNs who already have a BSN can still upgrade their education and train for a leadership role through a master’s program. Oetjen says this is what they refer to as “moving from the bedside to the boardroom.”
2. Pursue a specialty
There are numerous areas of specialization within the nursing profession, and each of them can provide opportunities for career advancement. Pursing a specialty is often the biggest reason a new graduate chooses to further their education sooner rather than later. It’s also an effective way for established nurses to take their nursing careers in a new, potentially more lucrative direction. One specialty Oetjen suggests is psychiatric mental health training because of the growing need for practitioners with expertise in this field that’s predicted to keep rising into 2019.
3. Find a nursing career mentor
New graduates benefit greatly from mentoring with more experienced nurses they’ve connected with in the workplace. Nursing veterans often help rookies develop viable nursing career goals. You get great career advice through a mentorship program, and a good mentor boosts your confidence and puts in a good word for you as you and your career grow.
If you already have a good rapport with an experienced nurse in your facility, ask if they’d be interested in becoming your mentor. Some healthcare facilities establish official mentorship programs that may include formal training to ensure mentors are fully capable of providing new hires with all the help they need. If you’re new to a healthcare facility, ask key personnel whether a mentoring program exists and consider organizing one if necessary.
4. Build a solid network
One of the best ways to jump-start your nursing career, and keep it moving, is through networking. Notre Dame College emphasizes the importance of establishing a network in every career field and at every professional level because it's a great way to help you discover new career paths that interest you while potentially providing new job leads.
Nurse Journal agrees about the importance of networking, especially for new nursing graduates who can use their network to find new positions and discover new specialties to pursue. They suggest connecting with professionals within your industry in person, through industry organizations and/or online. One easy way to start making connections is through professional associations. Start with your local chapter, and then move up to the state and national levels.
It’s never too early to start networking. If you begin actively seeking relationships within the medical community while you’re still in school, by the time you graduate, you may already know someone who might be able to open some doors for you. A strong support system can make an even bigger difference in a highly competitive job market.
5. Practice self-promotion
Along with networking, sometimes you must toot your own horn, or you may never get noticed. Self-promotion is a vital step to being successful in your nursing career and ensuring you snag the attention of the hiring manager or recruiter dangling a coveted job.
Notre Dame College advises their nursing students to know their strengths and skills, especially transferable skills. Once you’ve identified your best selling points, you must be able to talk about yourself succinctly. A quick, effective introduction of yourself is often referred to as an “elevator pitch,” which you should be able to make in 30 seconds. Practice your spiel until you can sell yourself and leave the listener wanting to learn more, which is an especially useful talent during formal interviews.