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How To Plan Your Nursing Career




Nurse Creating a Heart Shape with her Stethoscope

An ever-expanding employment field in modern times is the nursing profession. Working as a nurse in the healthcare sector has become an amazing career choice characterized by a lot of benefits. These benefits primarily include a generally positive and secure employment structure, a great way to care for others, and several clear career paths to explore within the field. The last benefit mentioned is one well known to the general public, as the healthcare sector provides for various nursing career paths to explore. This is regardless of if you are just starting a nursing career or you are well on your way to picking up an advanced nursing degree. There are always several career development opportunities to choose from in the nursing field, and they often include pursuing additional certificates and choosing a specialty or a practice setting. However, finding the right niche in nursing occasionally poses a problem for some people, and sorting this out is often a hassle to deal with. However, what tends to help with this particular problem is recognizing what steps to take in planning your nursing career.

Why advance your Nursing Career

As a career path choosing to be a nurse is an excellent idea, especially when you consider that it allows you to develop a career that centers on using your knowledge and skills to help and heal others. This, coupled with other factors like employment stability and overall high demand for nurses worldwide, leads to the growing popularity of the nursing career and several benefits for registered nurses (RN). Therefore, some people will wonder about the need to advance their nursing career. However, there are a lot of reasons for advancing your nursing career. 
It’s already established that in the field of nursing, there are a lot of career opportunities available within the field. To benefit from this and to open your way toward any of the numerous nursing pathways, a registered nurse (RN) would need to advance their career, for instance, by earning a graduate degree. With a graduate degree, such as a Master of Public Health, a Master of Science in Nursing or a PhD in nursing on line, a nurse can consider several career opportunities that offer greater responsibilities and various other benefits. Examples of such opportunities would include acquiring a job as a nurse practitioner or a nurse educator. Another compelling reason why you should advance your nursing is an increase in earning potential. Acquiring a job that offers greater responsibility and possibly places you in a leadership position would certainly come with more benefits, which includes a higher salary. Although the salary structure for a position can vary extensively due to numerous factors, the potential for earning a higher average salary is still enough to consider advancing your nursing career. 
Also, if you have a particular career goal or interest in mind, advancing your career via a graduate degree or any other means will certainly increase the likelihood of meeting your goal or interest.

Planning your Nursing Career

To benefit from the numerous career paths and opportunities available in the field of nursing, carefully planning your nursing career is the first major step to take. This is especially true in nursing as your career path can go on an entirely different path from your starting or current position, depending on the advancement of your career. In light of that, planning your nursing career involves certain steps (such as determining your career goals and choosing where your interests lie) concerning your preference for the nursing work you would like to partake in. 
1. Research different nursing paths
In planning almost any activity the first step to take is often to conduct research into said activity, this is no different in the nursing field. Your first step into planning should be conducting research and learning the important details of the various nursing paths available. Furthermore, as there are numerous paths to consider in the field of nursing, taking time out to learn about the different paths will be of great help to you. This is even more relevant when the time comes to choose an advanced degree you wish to study, as having an insight into the different paths gives you a more focused look at what is needed to achieve your specific goals. For example, if you are a nurse with a specific interest in technology and its nexus to nursing, a specialization in Nursing Informatics will allow you to obtain a career equipped with technical and nursing skills. On this route, your education will incorporate analytics, information processing, data compilation, and other data-based knowledge and skills. Another example that shows the importance of researching different nursing paths, is found where you want to educate or teach others. If your goal as a nurse is to carry out the education of other nurses, a route in nursing education would be the right choice, as you would be involved in developing curriculums, creating performance evaluations and a whole lot more. You will also be in charge of molding the young minds of fledgling nurses, which is a rewarding thought in itself.
2. Identify potential career options
The result of conducting proper research into the various available nursing paths is that ideas of possible career opportunities start to formulate. When these ideas are fully formed, the next step to take is to identify and explore the potential career options that come to mind, to find what is best for you. In conducting your investigation into your chosen options, what you need to do first is think, research and identify the kind of jobs whichever option you pick allows you to participate in. Several options will present specializations that are appealing or you may find yourself drawn to. However, your deciding factor should arrive when you consider pertinent factors like the research conducted, your strengths and weaknesses, skill set, goals and interests. When you account for these factors, identifying the career option most suitable for you becomes easier. Another aspect that becomes easier once you have identified the career option that suits you the most, is planning your career path. Although, there is an aspect to this step that is quite difficult – that is the plethora of options you have to select from. Nursing careers can range from nurse administrators to nurse practitioners, nurse officers and so much more. There is an abundance of options to consider and select from, as well as certain factors that influence these options, such as working with certain age groups, and becoming either a geriatric nurse or pediatric nurse.
3. Talk to Experts
In every course of study or field of practice, there are always experts in a particular field or discipline, who are well versed in said field through many years of learning, acquiring the required skill and their general experience in the field. Often talking to such experts always allows you to obtain certain knowledge or leaves you with a better understanding of an aspect or the entirety of your field. When it comes to beginners in the field, having and interacting with such experts in your field helps enormously. As such, for people just starting their nursing careers, interacting with an expert can help in successfully creating and following the right career path. Experts in the nursing field can help answer most questions you may have about making the right choices toward your career path and achieving your desired career goals. They can also provide extremely useful advice and guidance when you need it. A question that arises though is who you can call an expert in the nursing field and if it is alright to turn to them. The answer to this is simple, your senior nursing professionals and colleagues at your workplace are the perfect experts to talk to as they’ve walked the path you are to walk now. Apart from that, there are also professionals, nurse educators and keynote speakers at conferences and other nursing related events that you can speak to. You might feel overwhelmed or intimidated to speak to them at first, but don't let that stop you. There's a likelihood that they will be more than happy to talk to you and help you with any questions or problems you might have.
4. Follow online nursing websites and blogs
An amazing feature and benefit of the internet and its endless reach is the abundance of information available on any and every topic imaginable. Failure to capitalize and learn from the free information stream of the internet is most certainly a mistake few people make. In the field of nursing, the internet is filled with various nursing sites and blogs run by registered nurses (RN), nursing educators, and nurses working in advanced positions. These blogs and sites provide weekly and even daily articles, newsletters, and informative write-ups on every nursing detail you should know about. Browsing through these blogs and sites can give you insight and better ideas on what to expect from various nursing paths. They also provide useful posts that contain information about nursing jobs and opportunities available, as well as information on other facets of the nursing field. The beneficial insights you get from reading through these blogs are almost boundless and will help in developing your career path. An example of a useful blog post can be a nurse working in an advanced position giving a detailed guide on how they transitioned from a registered nurse (RN) to the position they are currently in. This will definitely make the transition process easier for you as you will know most of what to expect.
5. Know what your long-term goals are
An underrated step in planning whatever career you find yourself in is recognizing what you want to achieve or having a set goal in mind. Identifying what your long-term career goals are can greatly help with your career planning. When you think of where you want to be and the type of work you want to do, you would better understand and easily identify what you need to get you there. In light of this, there are certain questions you need to ask yourself and find the answer. These questions bother around pertinent factors in the nursing field, and they include:
  • Whether or not you are aspiring for a leadership position in nursing sometime in the future?
  • Whether or not your career goals consist of earning a specialized advanced degree?
  • What your ideal nursing career would be?
Finding answers to the above-stated questions will help you identify and understand what your long-term goals are. In the long run, it will also make it more straightforward to achieve those goals.
6. Professional Organizations
Similar to nursing sites and blogs, a professional nursing organization is another valuable source of information and guidance that would be of great help in planning your nursing career. In almost every field of practice, there are often organizations at the national, state, and also international levels that cater to the needs of their members in various ways. One of such ways is offering information, as well as guiding their members on the developments of their careers. These organizations hold seminars and conferences, provide information, bring in advanced speakers and generally cater to the developmental welfare of their members. On that note, being a part of a professional nursing organization often has more merits than drawbacks for the overall progress of your nursing career. Interestingly, numerous professional nursing organizations put their primary focus on a specific or specialized nursing career path. Examples of this include organizations solely focused on pediatric nurses, long term care nurses, oncology nurses and much more. To fully benefit from these, you must carefully select the professional organization you join. Therefore, you should search for professional organizations that are more suitable for your particular interest and career goals. Becoming a member of such organizations can provide various opportunities and information that help you properly plan your nursing career and advances it as well.

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