African American nurses

Nationwide — Knowing what that the next best move is for you and your nursing career can be tricky. It can often be wise to have a mentor that can help with career planning and who can give you advice. They may have been in the same situation as you at one time so will have the experience you are seeking. These 6 tips will help you to gain some clarity on your career goals and start planning ways to achieve them.

Establish Your Career Goals
One of the first things, and arguably one of the most important things you can do is set some goals. You need to be clear with yourself about what career growth or progression actually looks like. It’s all well and good saying you want to progress, but without any measurement or an endpoint you will not know where you are on your journey and when you eventually get there.
Career planning is much like business planning in that you need to set goals and then identify which steps you need to take to help you achieve that goal. Asking yourself questions like ‘what job title do I want?’, ‘what salary would I like to earn?’, and ‘how many hours a week do I want to work?’ will all help you to visualize your end goal. From there you can identify the path you need to take and set a timescale for when you want to achieve certain targets.

Further Your Professional Knowledge
Once you have decided on a plan and understand what you need to do to achieve your goals, you may decide that you need further training to help advance your career. This can be quite common, especially if your plan involves attaining a high-level position like a director in a business or becoming a specialist in your profession.

Online study is a great way to get started because you can continue working while you are studying. High-level healthcare degrees like an online masters in nursing can all be studied alongside work, meaning that you don’t have to put your work on hold. Some may even require that you are in work so that you can create case studies and put what you’re learning into practice. This is often common for high-level degrees like an MBA where the key is linking academic learning to real-world scenarios.

Build a Solid Network
Many of the people who are working in high-level positions have built a fantastic reputation for themselves and have created a solid network of people they can call on. Whatever career ambitions you have, you should try and build a network for yourself even if it is just with people in the business you work for now. Knowing the right people in the right places can be a huge advantage if you want to be the first to know about new job openings or new opportunities.
Beyond your work network, you should also try to build a network with other professionals. Industry-specific networking events are a great place to meet new people and discuss the latest industry insights and movements that may impact your job or career prospects. If you are new to networking it might be a good idea to learn some basic networking tips before you attend an event.

Be Prepared to Move
It may be the case that after speaking to people in the nursing industry that you decide a move is on the cards. People working in particular nursing areas may find that they are in a flat hierarchy and knowing that there is no real career progression opportunities, it can be hard.

The other consideration people may have is that they want to change their career altogether. You could look into working higher up within the healthcare industry, for example and become a doctor if you believe that this is the best move for you. Before making any decisions, you should think about what is prompting this train of thought. Is it for personal development or progression? Sometimes moving to a different job within healthcare could be exactly the progression you were looking for. Or you could consider moving your place of work and working for a different healthcare practice, whether this is a hospital or doctors practice.

Find a Mentor, Seek Advice
One of the best things you can do is find a mentor that you can talk to, and that will help you along your journey. People that have been working in the nursing industry for many years are incredibly knowledgeable and have a lot of experience. It may be that your boss could be your mentor or even an ex-boss that you really got along with.

Career progression is as much about listening as is it about doing. You don’t need to walk the path alone and having someone there to bounce ideas off of and check in with from time to time is important for your motivation as well as career growth.

Keep Your Mind and Body in Shape
Finally, in order to keep yourself motivated and working as effectively as possible, it’s really important to keep your mind and body in shape. You don’t need to be a gym fanatic and be lifting weights 7 days a week. Simple things like taking a stroll on your lunch break and eating healthily will all help to keep you operating at your best.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s all too common for people to experience burn out. This is something you should be trying to avoid and being aware of the signs of burn out is a good place to start. It can often feel good and productive to be working long days and giving everything you have, but in the long run it’s just not sustainable.
You need to work out how to work smarter and not harder. This will ensure that you can put maximum effort into the tasks that are really important and delegate tasks to your team to take the pressure off yourself.

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