At the end of a busy week, professional development is probably the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, if you don’t make time for this, you’ll be overlooking an excellent chance to enhance your nursing skills, advance your career and improve the quality of care you provide your patients.
Every professional — especially nurses — should have a strategy for career development. In the dynamic healthcare landscape, there are many new opportunities to grow as both a care provider and a person. With an established strategy in place, you can make sure you’re always ready to take the leap into something new.
Keep these three steps in mind when you create your nursing professional development strategy.
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Most of us want to advance in our careers but have only a vague idea of our ideal future jobs. Identifying the things you like and don’t like about your current position and the areas of nursing that interest you are essential steps in determining your goals. Do you enjoy mentoring new nurses and sharing information with patients? A career in nursing education or as a clinical specialist might be a good fit for you. Are you a natural leader who doesn’t shy away from challenges? Why not take advantage of your strengths to pursue a career as a nurse manager or administrator?
Step 2: Look for New Opportunities
There’s never been a better time for nurses to expand into new career areas. Thanks to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act and an aging baby boomer population, there are opportunities now that no one could have imagined 20 years ago. The demand for nurses is expected to grow by 16 percent by 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and all of those new positions won’t be in hospitals.
As preventive and continuing care become increasingly important, hospitals are creating positions for nurses in care and case management. Outside the hospital, home care and community health nursing will be more important than ever as boomers grow older and need regular nursing care, particularly for chronic conditions.
You’ll also find interesting opportunities in pharmaceutical and insurance companies, nurse consulting firms, research, legal consulting and travel nursing. Talking to nurses who currently work in your intended field or area and shadowing them for a few days is a good way to determine if a particular position will be a good fit for you.
Step 3: Make It Happen
Dreaming is the easy part. Making your dreams come true requires a great deal of planning, effort and possibly a return to school.
Determining the minimum requirements for a new position is the first step to putting your plan into action. If you don’t yet have the experience or education you need to be considered for the job, you’ll need to think about interim jobs or the ideal Bachelor of Science in Nursing or master’s degree program.
Whether you want to move on to a new position or are happy where you are, professional development is essential to your career. Addressing your own development, no matter which route you choose, ensures you have the tools you need to offer superior patient care and be the best nurse you can be.
No matter your role, you have the power to improve the patient experience. Learn how every nurse can increase patient satisfaction through patient-centered care.