A nursing career is tough, but it is one that is rewarding and allows progression. You may have previously envisioned that you would stay put as an ordinary nurse, but have suddenly decided you want to move up the ladder, or you have always had a higher goal in mind. Whatever the reason for seeking out career progression in nursing, there are a variety of options to choose from. Before you decide for sure, though, you will want to make sure that you possess the skills that will allow you to progress. Here are the skills and experience you will need to move up the nursing ladder successfully.
A strong work ethic
This particular skill is one you will already possess as a nurse. You must make sure your work ethic is strong by working consistently well and valuing your company. Motivation is the key here – even on the worst days, you should be able to push down your personal issues and see to each job to the best of your ability. Once you are higher up, this will be expected of you each day, so it’s best to get used to it as soon as possible.
If you have had a tiring week, and the weekend seems to have slipped away without any chance of rest, you must still be able to wake up on your next working day wanting to achieve the best you can. This motivation will see you through, and you will have a much higher chance of success.
A great network of people
Working in nursing is all about working as a team, and you will want to build a great network of people. You want your co-workers to pull you up when you’re struggling, so make sure you stay in everyone’s good books! Make friends with your colleagues, keep in touch with your friends from nursing school, and make sure to put in the effort to chat with people from other departments. If you want others to help you out when you need it, make sure you’re willing to pull them up when they do. Having a circle of contacts who you can rely on and who can rely on you will make the whole experience vastly easier.
As an added benefit – if you are on good terms with many of your colleagues, when you are applying to other nursing roles, they will be more likely to give you a glowing reference! Plus, there is nothing as therapeutic as having other nursing friends to vent to once your scrubs are removed and your day is ended.
You may get used to constant guidance from others, and it’s easy to slip into a habit of becoming comfortable with that and never taking the initiative. Becoming someone who can work and learn alone is a skill you will need to learn in order to progress, however, so make sure you start early. Think of yourself as an asset to the medical company, have confidence in your abilities, and think strategically when needed. At times, try to be the one guiding others, learning how to lead them without bossing them around (there’s a big difference!). Learn diplomacy, and how to listen, and soon you will thrive when in charge of a group of others.
Guidance from a mentor
In the healthcare industry, a mentor is one of the most valuable learning tools you can have. A mentor will teach you so much about nursing in general, providing a helping hand when you need it the most. As an experienced practitioner, they will have been where you are now, so they can provide you with essential advice you wouldn’t be able to get from anywhere else. Listen to them closely and use their advice wisely, and one day you may find yourself passing on the same knowledge to others. Nursing is a never-ending line of shared experience and learning.
Maintaining professionalism while you are at work is essential to getting ahead. There are a few things you can do to make sure you are always keeping in check, such as never being late, always dressing appropriately, and speaking in a clear, confident manner. Always adhere to the high standards of the medical facility you are working in. Cut out any work-time gossip, give a strong handshake, and learn to write your emails professionally. All of this will contribute to how other people view you, and if you can give off a professional aura, they will be more likely to accept that one day you will be in a higher up role.
Some of this can also be applied to when you leave work. Of course, that is your time that you should do with how you please, but still, keep in mind that you are a nurse and are seen as a responsible member of society. Not only will others respect you, but you will also start to respect yourself more.
Lots of experience
Even if you attain all of the basic skills to be a brilliant nurse, they won’t get you anywhere if you don’t have proof of your working ability. Tons of experience is essential to climbing the ladder – to excel in a higher up, professional role, you must first prove yourself at the bottom. On top of your general duties as a nurse, consider asking to work in a particular area you want to specialize in from time to time. You could even try to fit in some volunteer work, which will make you stand out even more! Every bit of experience counts, so view it as your personal worth. The more hours to add on to it, the more valuable you are in the medical world – grow it as much as you can!
This particular skill is not one that comes easily. Finding a work-life balance as a nurse can seem like an impossible task, but it is one you must find if you want to progress. The reason for this is, without the perfect balance, you run the risk of over-stressing and burning out. This can negatively influence your work, and you will find yourself in a seemingly never-ending spiral. Avoid the consequences of nurse burnout by making sure when you switch off, you are fully switched off, and allowing time for self-care. Keep in control of your working life and make sure you separate it from your personal one. Remember, you are allowed to enjoy yourself!
Brilliant communication skills
Great communication skills either come naturally or with experience. Whichever end you fall on, it’s always a good idea to improve them, especially if you are wanting to climb the ladder. Learn to talk succinctly and professionally, allowing your listener the ability to completely understand what you are wanting. Find confidence in your voice, and let that transfer to writing, too. Knowing how to use words correctly is especially important in healthcare, as each word can hold so much meaning! Make sure you know as much nursing and medical terminology as you can, even those that don’t directly apply to your job.
Great communication skills include the ability to listen well. It’s no good to just be a great talker; you also need to take in what others are saying to you. Make sure you don’t talk over people and give them the space to convey what they mean.
Carry on with higher education
Having the skills and experience are a brilliant start, but it does not end there! If you have figured out what specialty you want to pursue in nursing, it is time to look at options for higher education. There are numerous courses to look into – some you pursue on-site, while some you can pursue online. If you want to become a Nurse Practitioner, for example, you should look into Marymount University for their online MSN and FNP courses. One of the best things about achieving your education online is that you can fit it around your work, so you can still be gaining as much experience as you can while you study. No matter what specialty you are thinking of, there are plenty of courses out there to match your needs and help you on your way to success.
A genuine drive to help others
Above all else, you need to be pressing ahead for the right reasons. If you don’t have a natural care for others, you won’t end up getting very far. You must be someone who wakes up in the morning with the desire to give the best medical care you can, no matter what’s going on in your personal life. A nursing career is a beautiful, difficult choice, so having your ethics line up with it is absolutely crucial.
Pursuing a career in nursing can be a long journey, but one which may see you achieve goals you had never previously dreamed of. If you find yourself reaching for a chance of career progression, make sure you polish up on these skills and experiences, and you will find yourself thriving in your specialty area before long.