How to Build Your Nursing Career

How to Build Your Nursing Career

As a nurse, you’ll find there are several different career choices to make and directions you can take that will help you to achieve your ultimate goals and dreams. Nursing is one of the most diverse careers available, and once you have the right qualifications for what you want to do, your career path should be an easy one to follow.

One of the best degrees to take is the DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice). Once you have this qualification, you can become a nurse leader being like an oldest bonsai tree of your group, and there are almost no routes that are closed off to you. Whether you already know what you want to do or you aren’t sure and need some time to think, taking this degree will give you options, which is one of the most important elements of any career progression. Options mean you can take your time to make up your mind and really choose the direction that is going to work best for you.

Before you can enhance your nursing career, however, you need to start it. You’ll need to think carefully about every aspect of nursing and whether it is going to be the right career for you because it’s not an easy one to take on and you can think it as you have to find the gems; you’ll be challenged every day, your emotions will be tested, and you’ll have a lot to learn. Yet nursing is one of the most rewarding careers you can possibly have, so it’s no wonder many people choose it for their own. Read on to find out how to start and then build your nursing career so that you can make the most of every opportunity presented to you.

Is Nursing the Right Choice? 

As mentioned, nursing is not the right choice for everyone. It won’t appeal to all, but even to those who feel they would enjoy nursing and would be good at it, it might not suit you entirely. Nursing is both physically and emotionally demanding, despite being incredibly rewarding, and it’s wise to look into every aspect of what you might be expected to do once you have your nursing degree. The good news is, if nursing is something that would suit you, it’s the kind of career you can have for life, ensuring that you can rise through the ranks as you progress, and end up in a senior position (if that’s the kind of career progression you are looking for; if you would rather stay at a certain level then that’s not a problem either).

Nurses need to be caring, and they need to want to help others. This is one of the most obvious and important character traits of a nurse, and if you feel like this, then it could be that nursing is a good career choice for you. You’ll also need to have studied hard and not be afraid of hard work once you begin your nursing career; this is another crucial character trait. If you like to sit behind a desk all day or enjoy the routine of a 9-to-5 job, it won’t matter how much you enjoy helping people, you won’t enjoy your time as a nurse.

Nurses also have plenty of other skills, some of which can be learned, and others that they need to possess already. These include:

  • Time management
  • Compassion
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Stress control
  • Research
  • Organization

These skills will help you in your nursing career, and added to the knowledge you’ll gain from your nursing degree, if you combine everything in your daily work (or nightly work – nurses will need to work nights, too), you can be a wonderful nurse with a job for life.

The more research you do, the more ideas and career paths you will uncover. When looking at career options, try listing the educational requirements, salary ranges as well as professional growth opportunities.

You can simply search for phrases like “family nurse practitioner responsibilities” or “icu nurse responsibilities” to clearly imagine if the position suits you according to your skills and degree.

Why Take On Additional Studying?

Once you have decided to become a nurse, knowing that it’s the career that will suit you best and where you can make the most difference, you’ll do your studies and you’ll start work. You may notice that there are a number of other degrees and qualifications open to you even after you have qualified and are making the most of your career. Why is this? Why go back to school to take on additional studying? How will it help?

For some nurses, taking on this additional studying and looking into a DNP degree, for example, is exactly the right step to take once they have gained experience in firsthand nursing. Despite being busy, despite working so hard in their jobs, additional studying and all the extra work that will bring makes sense.

There are many reasons for applying for more degree subjects within the sphere of nursing, and it will depend on exactly where you see your career going as to what you choose to do. For example, degrees in some nursing specifics will allow you to earn more money. Although many people will say that they don’t go into nursing for the money, the chance to earn more after gaining an additional degree is always going to be useful; if you can boost your career, earn more money, and take on more responsibility by having a higher ranking position within the nursing industry, then for many it is worth the extra work they will have to put in to get there.

Another benefit of more study and more qualifications is that it will open up plenty of different avenues for you. Even though it will be hard work, especially as you will be working at the same time, the fact is that the more qualifications you have, especially if you have the DNP degree, the more opportunities will be open to you. You can choose exactly where you want to work, reducing your commuting time and giving you a better work-life balance, for example. You may even be able to choose the shifts you work, giving you nights and weekends to spend with your family or to engage in your favorite hobbies. You can even take your nursing skills to another country if that appeals, or out of the hospital altogether and into a private nursing setting. You might even start your own nursing agency.

The truth is, the more qualifications you have, the more choice you have with regards to your career and your life. For many that is worth the work that needs to be done to get there.

How to Choose the Right College 

If you feel that studying for more qualifications is the right thing to do to build your nursing career in the way you want to, it’s crucial that you choose the right college. There are many different colleges to pick from, and some will work better for you than others which is why it’s so important to think carefully about where you will go. Making a mistake isn’t the end of the world, but it can be expensive and it will certainly be time-consuming. It’s best to take your time and carefully make a shortlist of the best nursing colleges that will help you personally get where you want to go.

Studying online has become extremely popular recently, and this could be the best option for you. When you study at a physical college, you’ll have classes to get to at specific times, and deadlines for assignments that need to be strictly adhered to. This is why some people, despite the fact that it would help them with their careers and that they could do so much with their additional qualifications, don’t take the opportunity; they just don’t have the time or ability to go to a college for classes, especially if they are working and have a family to take care of.

Nevertheless, to make online studying for nurses easier, many exam prep companies and organizations have started to offer study guides and practice exams for those who wish to become a nurse but do not have the time to go to a university. So, nowadays, you will be able to use the Career Employer test prep experts study guide for the HESI test or NurseHub’s TEAS practice questions to be equipped with the right knowledge and material to overcome the difficulties of online education and be prepared to take the nursing tests.

Online nursing courses, including DNP degrees and much more, mean that this is not such a big consideration. With no journey time to take into account (you can study from the comfort of your own home) and no specific class times (although there might be some live classes, even these will be recorded so you can watch at a later time, and the majority of classes will be pre-recorded for your convenience anyway), you can study at a time that suits you, fitting your learning in around your other responsibilities. This has opened up doors to those who may well have thought they were closed.

Network Where You Can

Networking might at first appear to be something that only happens in business situations so that business owners can find additional ways to make money and expand their enterprises. However, networking is actually something that can be of use in any kind of career; it’s not just about making money. Networking is about making connections who can help you and whom you can help, and the more connections you have, the more you can achieve. This is why, if you want to build your nursing career, it’s useful to try to network where you can.

Networking in nursing might sound difficult, especially since you tend to work with the same tight-knit team at every shift, but it is possible. Your studies, for example, will put you in contact with a wide range of people, but you can also look for different online groups to join wherein you can chat to other nurses who might have good advice for you, and who could be exactly the right person to hear from at the right time. You could learn about new courses with openings in just the area you are interested in, or new positions that you could apply for. All of this information is going to be useful, and the more you can find, the more opportunities you will have.

Look at Your Strengths and Weaknesses 

When you are ready to take the next step to build your nursing career, whatever that next step might be, it’s a good idea to look carefully at your strengths and weaknesses. If you are entirely honest, you will be able to see the areas in which you are lacking knowledge and the areas in which you excel. At this point, you’ll have a choice to make, and it is this choice that can determine the rest of your nursing career, so it shouldn’t be rushed.

One option you can take is to work harder on the areas you are already strong in. Since this is the area that most appeals and where you have the most skills, look into the areas of nursing that your strengths can help you do more in. Although it might be a different path to the one you first imagined, if you follow where your strengths lead you, you’ll often find an enjoyable, rewarding, and ultimately more successful career path.

Alternatively, you can look at your weaknesses and boost them, turning them into strengths. If you can do this (and it won’t appeal to everyone since it is potentially much more hard work than working on areas you are already strong in) then you will find you are much more well-rounded as a nurse since you will have many more strengths than weaknesses. This can help when you are applying for jobs since many people won’t have this fully rounded set of skills, and that in itself could build your nursing career nicely.

Make Sure You Have a Goal

Finally, if you want to build your nursing career you will need to have a goal. Having a goal means there is always something to be working towards, and always a reason to make a decision one way or the other. By goal-setting throughout your career, you can achieve much more, and you’ll always have something to aim for.

No one can tell you what your goal ‘should’ be. In fact, there is no ‘should’ to consider; your goal (or goals) is whatever you want it to be, but it is a personal decision. Whether you want to start your own nursing business, you want to be a nurse leader, or you want to work in a specific department, for example, it’s all down to you.

The best advice, however, is to split your main goal into different parts. These smaller goals will be easier to achieve, and you can prioritize them, ensuring that you don’t get caught up and lost in what you are meant to be doing. Having a goal means having a path to follow, and building your nursing career is much easier that way.

Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle is a renowned philosopher with a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from the University of London and has been enlightening readers. His academic background in philosophy and psychology and a deep understanding of human consciousness make his writings profoundly impactful. He is also known for his bestselling books, which have been translated into multiple languages. His hobbies include meditation, classical music, and exploring different cultures. He also enjoys nature walks, painting, and practicing yoga.

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