If you’ve been a registered nurse for years or even decades, you might be asking yourself if there’s anything greater out there for you. The good news is that nursing is one of the fields that offers the best chances for advancement. Not only can you specialize yourself and find better roles, but there are shortages at practically every level, which means that you may have to deal with very little competition once you get your credentials.
You have to make sure that you go about it the right way, however, or you might end up wasting time and money and being that much further from your dream. Let’s take a look at a few tips for registered nurses who want to advance their careers.
What Are Your Goals?
The first thing you have to do is evaluate your reasons for wanting to quit your current job and what you want in a dream job. If the stress is getting to you, you might want to go for something that won’t require you to be at the bedside. If you want more money, you have to concentrate on fields with great demand and salaries that cater to your skills, interests, and aptitudes.
If you want something stable, you might want to look at a position with a fixed schedule or others that will allow you to work independently. Or maybe you need a change of air? In this case, you might look for closely related fields like health coaching, or work in academia. Identifying your needs will allow you to be more focused when choosing how you’re going to move forward.
Look at Accelerated Programs
Time is probably very important to you if you have already have spent some time in the profession. Thankfully, there are ways that you can get your credentials way faster. One of them would be to go through an accelerated program.
Accelerated programs are often dispensed by online schools and allow you to fast-track your way from RN to a master’s degree or a doctor of nursing. Marymount University, for instance, has a program that allows nurses to get their DNP-FNP much faster than usual. You’ll come out with credentials that would give you full authority over a practice or allow you to work closely with patients in a senior position.
Online programs allow you to follow courses when it’s more convenient for you. You could take classes during the evenings or the weekends if you want, and get the same quality of education as any other nurse. If you feel like your work or life situation makes it impossible for you to attend nursing school, this could be your best option.
Start Looking Where You Are
We would also suggest that you start looking at openings wherever you are. Applying for positions where you’re working will take a lot of the stress of applying away. You’ll be able to speak directly with the people responsible for hiring and get a better idea of what they’re looking for in a candidate.
You’ll also have a much greater chance of getting hired since you’ll have an easily verifiable track record. You’ll be able to take advantage of your seniority and even have some of the people you work with vouch for you.
You should also get networking and try to get closer to some of the higher-ups. You may be able to discover tips on when certain positions will be open and what type of candidate will be needed. You should look into future needs in your organization as well if you notice that some people in senior positions are getting older.
Find Someone to Mentor You
Finding a mentor could also help you focus your efforts, reassess your priorities, and choose the proper course of action. They could also present you with opportunities you didn’t know existed and work as your advocate or reference if you decide to seek a higher position.
A mentor will help you evaluate your mental state and see if you have anything left to give the profession as well. Quitting nursing is tough as you might be wondering what you’re going to be doing next or feel guilty for leaving people behind. But you should be off the floor if you’re disengaged and unhappy.
Having a mentor also gives you someone you can talk to if things get rough. If you feel like you’re at the end of your role, a good mentor will be there to comfort you and point you towards the proper resources.
Follow a Few Nursing Blogs
Hearing from other nurses who were able to reinvent themselves is a great motivator and could give you a glimpse into what’s happening on the other side. This is why we would suggest that you look at a few nursing blogs. Not only will you be able to get a new perspective, but you’ll also learn more about the industry. Having more knowledge of nursing will allow you to stand out more on the floor, and could increase your chances of getting noticed by higher-ups and recommended if there are any openings.
Look for Professional Organizations
There are tons of reasons why every nurse should consider joining a professional organization. For one, you’ll be able to rub shoulders with highly dedicated nurses just like yourself. But the best part is that you’ll be able to increase your network.
The more you get involved, the more networking and job opportunities will present themselves to you. You never know who you might come across at an event, and you might end up becoming friends with important decision-makers. Having their number in your Rolodex could help you get in positions that would be otherwise inaccessible.
These are all things registered nurses who want to advance their careers have to know. Be ready to do the work if you want to stand out and get the qualifications needed if you want to become a perfect candidate for advancement.