Nursing is an exciting, rewarding, and demanding career. It also provides a number of avenues for advancement and specialization. Whether you want to move into a less physically demanding position or want a role in which you can have a far greater impact, there are a variety of ways to move beyond the ward and into the right job for you. The real issue is knowing where to start. Here are the steps you should take if you want to advance your nursing career.
Determine Where You Want to Go
The first step to advancing your career is imagining the destination. Where do you want to be in five years? What job would you like to eventually hold? These goals will determine the additional certifications or advanced degrees you’ll need to earn. Do your research before you start signing up for classes. After all, it is a waste of time and money to earn a degree that doesn’t further your objectives.
Expand Your Horizons
Join professional organizations. They’re a great entry on your resume, and they give you access to professional conferences attended by your intended peers. Attend conferences to learn more about the profession. You can learn from other experts in the field, and ask questions so you know this is the right field for you. This is a golden networking opportunity, too, should you choose to go in that direction. Take continuing education courses that aid you in your current job but apply to the area you’d like to pursue. If you want to take a break from your current job or want to rack up diverse experiences, give travel nursing a try.
Pursue Additional Certifications
You may need to take classes to earn additional certifications to advance along your chosen career path. Depending on the job, you may be able to complete a certification by taking some additional courses and passing a certification exam offered by the nursing association you joined. In other cases, you have to return to school.
For example, a health science degree with a focus on healthcare administration opens up many health administration career options, and a master’s in health administration is certainly far less work than earning a dual masters in nursing and business. You could work in administration in hospitals, home healthcare firms and long-term healthcare facilities. You could work as a clinic administrator or manage social services. You might work at a consulting firm or in public health program management. If you’re already a registered nurse, a master’s degree in healthcare administration allows you to become a nurse supervisor or fill an even higher role in the organization. For example, you could become a nursing director or clinical coordinator.
Don’t forget to maintain your existing certifications, too, such as your RN license, CPR and BLS certifications.
Leverage Your Professional Network
Once you have the necessary qualifications to move into another role, it is time to get experience. You could ask for a transfer at work, or you may need to change jobs. Travel nursing may be enough. Or you will want to meet hiring managers at various professional association meetings and conferences. Another option is pursuing a leadership position in the professional network. That will enhance your resume and increase your visibility.
While working directly with patients can be fulfilling, moving into healthcare management or another role can be just as rewarding. It may allow you to benefit far more patients with less stress and higher pay.