No matter how long you have been in the nursing sector for, it is always important to remember that you have room to grow, and you have room to develop as a professional. When it comes to advancing your nursing career, you want to be sure that you can achieve what you set out to. Of course, this will allow you to move in a direction that is focused on progression and development. Pushing yourself that little bit further and setting out with goals and ambitions in mind is important, so with this in your mind, where should your journey begin?
Deciding the Time is Right for Progression
To get your journey started off correctly, you need to think about timing. For instance, if you are bored and unchallenged in your role then it may be the right time for progression. You need to focus your time and your efforts on progression, development and enhancement of your career. If the timing does not feel quite right or if you are dealing with issues in your personal life, then it may be best to look at starting your journey in the coming weeks and months, instead of immediately. Only you will know when the time is right for more, and only you will be able to push forwards. It is worth remembering that you want career progression to be enjoyable (as much as possible). If you are lacking this direction or you are lacking the commitment in the early stages then you will find your progression will falter before you have even had time to get off the starting block.
Having Your Sights Set on the Future
It can be difficult focusing on the future, and you can feel that at times it may be distracting. However, to achieve the progression you desire, you must be firmly focused on the future. When you are looking at what you want to achieve in the next 5 years (or more) then you have a clear route or path to follow. To be realistic with your future and with the route you wish to take, you need to have a rough idea of what you want to achieve. For instance, if you are currently working as a nurse on the A & E ward, would you like to progress to another area or would you like to consider leadership roles within this area of practice? When you focus on your future, you break down end goals and you make them so much more achievable.
What Does Your Career Look Like at the Moment
Before embarking on plans for your future, you need to take time out. Look at what you are doing in your role at the moment and see what is making you happy and fulfilled. As you look at career progression you may well find that there are elements of your current role which you like and want to retain. When you can take stock of your career as it stands, you can then see what needs to happen and change to enable you to move forwards. Evaluating your career and assessing your role will also help you to get your motivation, drive and determination back. If you simply try and push forwards without really knowing your starting point, then progress may be slower and less targeted.
Setting Personal and Professional Goals
After identifying your starting point, you will be able to start setting both professional and personal goals to help you move forward with ease. When you set goals, you focus on what you want to achieve and why, and you make the journey more real and tangible. When you are setting professional goals, you need to ensure they are focused and time sensitive, such as: focus on professional development and learning for the next 18 months. You may wish to set a goal that focuses on increasing who you are networking with, and how much time you are spending networking. When your current role can get hectic and stressful, you can find that professional goals can bring you back to center, and focus you once more. Of course, as well as setting professional goals, you may also benefit from creating and implementing personal goals. For instance, a goal you could set would be one that focuses on you achieving a better work-life balance. A personal goal could be to work on your soft skills, perhaps improving how you communicate or even focusing on improving your listening skills. Professional development and personal development can often go hand in hand, and this is why it is beneficial to see the two together.
Looking at New Areas of Work or Specialism
When you are evaluating your role at work and you are looking to the future, try and establish if a change of direction will be beneficial. Looking at the area of work or specialism that you are in, you must think about happiness and fulfilment. Are you enjoying the team you are working with or do you feel that the department or area is just not pushing you enough? Looking at new areas to work within may rejuvenate your career and it may reignite your passion for nursing.
Setting Time Limits
To achieve the career progression you deserve, you must set time limits and timescales. You must think about what you want to achieve and push for and by when. If you are not setting timelines to work towards then you may find that goals and advancement of your career will elude you, simply because you will get stuck in a rut. When it comes to laying out timelines to work to, you must make sure they are realistic and not too tight. If you are trying to cram too much into any given time (while of course still balancing your job) you will find that you will be overwhelmed, and that clarity and focus will elude you.
Having an Action Plan
Once you have your goals and ambitions in place, you then need to go ahead and create an action plan. An action plan will be focused on what you want to do, but it will also tell you the steps you need to take to reach your end goals. An action plan will culminate all of your plans and ideas and it will allow you to create a neat little package which you can follow.
Returning to Studying
Your development and career enhancement will benefit greatly from advancing your studies and education. When you advance your studies and focus on an area of specialism, you then increase your knowledge and your awareness simultaneously, and of course, this helps you land those future roles and positions. When you are returning to studying you have to be sure that you are getting the most out of your studies and you have to be sure that they are relevant to your career/action plan. For example, will your studies involve nursing clinicals, will it be theory based, or is it going to be building upon your role now, or will it be based on what you want within the next 5 years?
Balancing Studying While Working
You will benefit from studying; you will find that it will boost your mindset and approach to your work and to your role. It is important to see how essential studying is at all points of your career. When you can embrace studying and fit it in and around your work, then you can expect to see and feel greater results. Of course, finding a happy and sustainable balance may not always be that easy, and at times you may feel that studying is consuming you. However, to get over this you have to focus on the bigger picture. Set dedicated time aside for your studies, for your career and of course for yourself, and you will find that you can maintained a good balance.
Building and Enhancing Your Professional Skillset
You may have been working on your soft skills already, such as listening and communication. However, are you developing your professional skillset at the same time? The type of professional you are and the type that you want to be will be determined by your skillset, so do not leave it until the last minute. For example, are you working on teamworking? Or are you developing your leadership skills? What areas within your skillset is lacking, and where is there room for growth?
Looking For a Mentor
As you progress with your plans and with your goals, you may find it beneficial to have a mentor on board. A mentor will be able to guide you along your journey, and they will be able to share useful information and knowledge with you. When it comes to finding a mentor, you may wish to reach out to your employer or you may wish to find one through the group’s and circles within which you move. Mentors have experience in the nursing sector and it is this experience that is valuable.
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