There are certain truths that you’ll already know if you’re a nurse. One is that nursing is one of the most rewarding careers you can have, as you are able to help people at all stages of their lives – literally from birth to death – and make a real difference in those lives. If you love nursing, then, once you have obtained your RN, it could be the only job you’ll ever need to have and ever need to think about, and that’s exciting. Most people change their careers at least twice, so if you are able to find something you love right from the start, that’s a positive thing indeed.
However, even if you love nursing and you’re happy being a nurse, there are still certain things you can do to make it better for you. If you can truly make the most of your professional nursing career, you can have anything and do anything. Plus, you’ll be happy, and that counts a lot. With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can make your nursing career even better; read on and see if any of these ideas as something you could do.
Have A Goal
If you really want to make the most of your nursing career, it’s crucial you have an ultimate goal as to where you see your career going. It’s great to know exactly where you might be heading and how you can get there. Perhaps you need to gain more experience, or maybe you need to go back to school for additional qualifications, such as working on a DNP program. Although it’s fine to have a career with no particular goals when you do have something to aim for, it makes things much more enjoyable – you’ll always have that goal in mind, and you’ll always know that you’ve made it one step closer to where you want to be. That is truly fulfilling.
When you have a career goal, you can also prevent your nursing career from becoming stale and boring. Even if you love your job, will you still feel the same after many years and even decades? Even in a profession like nursing, a profession that is famed for being different every day, boredom can set in when you have been at the same level working with the same people for many years. If you have a goal (or goals) to work towards, this boredom is less likely to occur.
If you don’t have a goal at the moment, it’s wise to take a step back from what you are doing and assess the situation. Look at where you are now and at what options are open to you. Do you want to work in a specific department, for example? Do you want to travel as a nurse? Do you want to become a leader and manager? Find out what it is you want and then make a plan to get there.
Another great way to make the most out of your nursing career is to create connections. In other words, you can meet a lot of people who can help you in your career and in your life in general. There are very few jobs where you have the chance to meet so many people – when you’re a nurse, you meet new people every single day. These are patients, their families, and colleagues from various departments around the hospital. By forming quick connections, you can help yourself make the most of your nursing career in many different ways.
You’re probably aware that the world of business thrives on networking. When you work in business, you have to keep moving forward or else you’ll get left behind, and that’s when failure happens. When you make a lot of connections through good networking, there will always be someone to help pull you forward and give you the information and confidence you need to make important decisions.
What might surprise you is that nursing is not all that different. In nursing, with more and more people becoming registered nurses, the competition for the top jobs and leadership roles is becoming fiercer. If your goal is to become a nurse leader, you’ll need to use every weapon you have, and that includes the connections you have formed – you never know when having a good connection will help you.
As well as being helpful in your career, good connections through networking (and simply working) are also helpful because you’ll always need friends and people you can rely on and talk to. Nursing can be a hard thing to do, and it’s not always easy to talk about the difficult days when you get home because the people there won’t understand. When you have other people in the nursing profession to talk to, you can reduce the risk of burnout and lower your stress levels, making you much happier and healthier and more able to make the most of your nursing career.
Focus On Your Strengths
The human mind seems to be programmed to look only at the negatives, or at least to look at the negatives first. The problem is that this can lead to mental health issues, including depression. The more negative our outlooks, the more unwell we can become, and when it comes to our work, if we only see the negatives and weaknesses of what we are doing, it will be all but impossible to move forward.
This is why, if you want to make the most of your nursing career, you need to focus on your strengths, instead. You can shift your entire mindset by turning things around and looking at the positives, and you’ll benefit greatly when you do. When you only look at the things you can’t do or you’re not good at, you’ll come away with a feeling that you’re not good enough and that you’re not a great nurse. Focus on the strengths, and the feeling will be that you are a great nurse and that you can certainly get where you want to go in life.
Therefore, it’s clear you need to look at your strengths if you want to be the best you can be. Of course, it makes sense to look at any weaknesses you might have as well, as you won’t be able to improve them if you don’t know about them, but don’t dwell on them. See what they are and then work out a plan to improve, and that’s it. In fact, you can do the same with your strengths; even the things you’re good at can be better. Once you’re able to do this, your nursing career will improve hugely, and you won’t have to be concerned about any lack of confidence either.
Take On Extra Assignments
Not many people really know what it is a nurse does, but they’ll know one thing for sure – they work long hours. Nurses work in shifts because people get sick all the time, and therefore there is no such thing as a Monday to Friday, nine-to-five kind of job when you’re a nurse. You’ll be working shifts that cover the entire day, 365 days a year. That means working nights, evenings, and holidays, as well as the standard day shifts. Something else to be aware of, as we’ve said, is that those shifts tend to be long shifts; the standard working day is about eight hours, but a nurse will work anywhere between 12 and 16, and perhaps more.
So, does it really make sense for a nurse to volunteer to take on extra assignments? When you consider all the work they’re already doing, the answer is probably no – it doesn’t make sense, and nurses have to rest at some point, just like everyone else. However, if you are looking at things in terms of making the most of your nursing career, then the answer is yes; extra assignments are worth at least considering.
As long as you are careful and ensure you are getting enough sleep and rest, and that the extra work is not constant (that is, you might take on some extra shifts once a month and no more, for example), then working more can be a wonderful way to help you in your career. You’ll have more chances to learn things and experience things, and you’ll meet more people, which, as we mentioned above, is crucial. You’ll also be seen as a dedicated worker by your manager, and that can go a long way to helping when it comes to promotions and commendations.
Be Professional At All Times
When you’re a nurse and you want to make the most of your nursing career, it’s vital that you remember to be professional at all times. Of course, you can – and should – still have plenty of fun when you’re working because everyone needs to enjoy their work, but professionalism should be there at the heart and forefront of everything if you genuinely want to get on.
Professionalism can mean different things to different people, but in general terms, here are some of the things to ensure you are doing:
- Being positive
- Taking care of patients in a kind and experienced way
- Being polite
- Communicating well
- Being punctual
- Having a clean uniform
All of these things will go a long way to ensuring that you are as professional as possible, and that, in turn, will help you make the most out of your nursing career.