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Career Progression Tips and Guidance for Nursing Professionals

by Editor

Whether you are wanting to get into nursing leadership or you are wanting to become a family nurse practitioner, you will need to start taking targeted steps and directed action. Career progression does not just happen, it takes time, and it takes effort, and dedication. Realizing your dreams and achieving your goals and ambitions is easier to do if you know what path to follow. So, what guidance and tips can you use that will make your career progression as a nurse that little bit easier and manageable?

Create an Action Strategy

An action plan or an action strategy will help you achieve your career ambitions. A well-structured strategy will tell you what areas you need to be focusing on and why. Within a strategy, you will create small, achievable, yet realistic targets, and once you have reached these, you will know you are on the path to success. Without an action strategy, you may find that you get lost along the way and even diverted away from what you want. Not having and implementing an action strategy can make career progression much more stressful than it needs to be. To make the most out of your plan, make sure it covers at least the next 5 years.

Set Out a Timeline

You know that you want to achieve your next career move within at least the next few years. However, do you know what you need to achieve and by when? When you put into place a timeline, you can break down goals and targets and give them a definitive time. When you have timescales to keep and deadlines to reach, you will find that you have the motivation you need to keep pushing on. When you are setting out a timeline, you need to be realistic while still staying ambitious. When you are realistic, you are aware of what you can fit into a period of time. If you are not realistic with your timeline, or timescales, you will find that you will be giving yourself an unnecessary amount of stress and pressure. Too much stress and pressure can affect your thinking and your approach. So, carefully consider what you can achieve (Alongside your work and family commitments) and then plan your time accordingly.

Be Ambitious

Without ambition and drive, you will find career progression challenging (to say the least). Establishing where your ambition lies and not being afraid to be ambitious is important. When you are ambitious, you will find that little will stand in your way. Very few things will cause you to worry or stress. Ambition can help you see the best in certain situations, and it can also help you to make the most out of everything you do too. When you are ambitious, it can be powerful, but it can also be overbearing too – especially if you cannot harness it. Learning to manage your ambition but not dampen it in the process is crucial for your growth and progression. If you are struggling to establish where your ambition lies and what you want to achieve, then go back to the drawing board. Create career goals and objectives, and establish what you need to achieve and why.

Set Career Goals and Objectives

Setting career objectives and goals will help you to realize your ambitions. When you have goals to work towards, you can be sure that you are focusing both your energy and your efforts. If you do not set or even outline goals that you want to achieve, then you may find that you end up sailing through your career – perhaps without even getting to grips with what you want to achieve and why. Career goals and objectives can be career-defining, and they can be elevated too. When you can establish what you want to do, and need to do, then you can be as successful as you want to be. When you are creating goals and objectives, try and stick to a few at a time. Creating 2 or 3 objectives will allow you to focus your efforts. If you try and create any more than this, then you will find that you will be spreading yourself (and our time) too thinly on the ground. Work towards a couple of objectives at any given time, and you will visibly see the results in your career progress.

No matter where you are in your career, it’s important to think about your future steps. If you are currently employed as a PCA (Patient Care Assistant), consider advancing by pursuing the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification through online resources or utilizing materials like free full-length CNA mock tests.

As you accumulate experience as an assistant and deepen your knowledge of healthcare, it may be the right time to take the next big step and start preparing for the NCLEX to become a registered nurse. The path to progress is extensive, and there is always room for improvement and growth. 

Criticism and Feedback

As you progress within your career, you will, of course, face criticism and feedback, and this will come from those that you work with, as well as from other candidates who compete for the role you are pursuing. How you handle criticism and feedback is important because it will define how you approach change and growth. It can be difficult when others criticize your approach to your work, but learning to take the positives along with the negatives is crucial. If you take feedback and criticism to heart, you can find that it will affect how you think and how you work. Learning to extract useful feedback is what you must focus on. To do this, you have to learn how to self-evaluate as well. When you can evaluate your role and your progress as a professional, you can see where improvement is needed. Then when others happen to point it out, you can agree rather than argue. A great deal of patience is required when you are progressing in your career. You will find that others will negatively critique your work, or your education/learning, in an attempt to put you down and stop you from progressing. Building a thicker skin and learning to value yourself will ensure that you can handle any (and all) criticism and feedback – no matter how it presents itself.

Build Your Confidence

To get to the point you want to reach in your career, you have to be confident. There is no doubt that people will try to knock our confidence and put us down as much as they can. To build your confidence, you need to build your resilience. You have to learn to be resilient in all types of scenarios and situations. If you are lacking in confidence, or if you feel you are not as confident as you could be, then start taking action today. Taking decisive action sooner rather than later is essential for career growth and progression. Working on your confidence by breaking out of your comfort levels and zones is most certainly something you need to focus on. You may also find that others can help you build your confidence too. For example, they can give you feedback surrounding areas of improvement. Or, they can give you a boost when you may need it the most.

Strengthen Areas of Weakness

In your current role or position, you will have areas of weakness and areas of strength. Strengthening your weak areas will help you grow your career because it will allow you to mold yourself into the best version of yourself. To establish where your weaknesses lie, you need to self-evaluate, and you need to seek feedback from others. Self-evaluating what you did in a day or on a particular task will give you the insight that you need. Similarly, seeking feedback from others can be beneficial because they may well see things that you have missed or overlooked.

Enhance Your Education

Your level of education plays a hugely important role in your career progression. To get the role that you want, you must focus on enhancing your education. When you increase your knowledge and your level of awareness, you will find that you will become unstoppable. So, if you are setting your sights on becoming a family nurse practitioner who makes a difference in your local community, then you need to study. You need to look at a post masters FNP program that you can comfortably complete both in and around your pre-existing commitments.

Invest In Your Future

To achieve success in your career and to progress as efficiently as you want to, you have to invest in yourself. You have to set aside time, energy, and devotion to your career. If you try and juggle too much (without making a compromise along the line), then you will struggle to get the success that you deserve. You must invest in your future if you are to achieve career success. To successfully invest, you must learn to also say “no”. There will be times when you cannot complete everything you have to, and there will be times when you have to make sacrifices and compromise. Learning to say “no” and sticking to it will hello you strengthen your character and your resolve.

Focus on Your Wellbeing and Health

You need to make your career a priority if you are to achieve the progression that you want, but this does not mean that you have to neglect yourself. Your health and your wellbeing are important factors within your life, and they need to be a priority in everything that you do. If you are not focusing on your wellbeing and health, then you will find that you will, at some point, experience a burnout stage. When you burn yourself out, you struggle to see clearly, and you struggle to enjoy your role and even everyday life. To ensure that this does not happen to you, then you have to focus on mindfulness, your wellbeing, and your health. When you are in a strong and stable place with your health and wellbeing, you can then assist and help your patients and others under your care.

Be Social and Network

As a nursing professional focusing on your growth, you must stay social and not isolated. Talking to others and even focusing on networking will help you to build strong support networks for when you need them the most. If you are not focusing on being sociable and on building networks, then how are you going to find out about new opportunities? Or, how are you going to discuss changes and developments within the nursing industry (which may be crucial to you)?

Lean on a Mentor

As well as utilizing the support you can find from others through networking, you may also want to look at getting a mentor on board. Mentors have a strong skill set, and they have knowledge and experience that you can utilize too. Mentors can guide you through rough waters, and they can help you to evaluate opportunities and jobs on offer. A mentor will have been through what you are going through, and they will be able to offer words of support and guidance – most likely at a time when you need it the most. To get the most out of a mentor, you have to be engaged, and you have to be open to learning. You may find that a meteor can sometimes come across as sharp or even harsh times – however, this should not be taken personally. Mentors have your best interests at heart, and you must remember this to ensure you never experience any times of conflict or disagreement.

Improve Your Resume

Landing and sealing opportunities are much easier to do when you have a strong resume. Your resume will let others know what you can offer and where your strengths lie. Setting out your expectations while also showing what you can do is easier to do when you have a clear and concise resume. Your resume should be easy to read, and it should be informative too. Editing your resume regularly and updating it will help you secure positions. If it has been a while since you updated your resume, try using a free online resume maker to make the process less daunting on your part.

Join Nursing Unions and Organizations

Keeping up to date with what is happening both in your profession and in the healthcare industry is crucial. To ensure that you keep up to date, you have to look at joining unions and other nursing organizations. Professional bodies can provide you with guidance, and they can also provide you with useful resources that you can utilize. When you are choosing a union or organization, think about where they are based, and try to find one that is located within your home state or state of practice.

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