It can be intimidating to think about starting your own career in nursing. There are plenty of opportunities out there for skilled and qualified nurses, but the job itself comes with its fair share of challenges and obstacles that you will have to face regularly.

Many nurses spend a great deal of their time on their feet, rushing around from patient to patient. It is a fast-paced job that requires you to be able to juggle a number of tasks all at the same time. It takes an incredibly dedicated person to assume such a role and spend their career working to help those suffering from illness and injury.

Aside from a fulfilling career spent helping others, a career as a nurse comes with a number of other benefits. From job security to competitive pay, there are many reasons why you might wish to pursue a career in nursing. Another such reason is that there are some amazing career advancement opportunities available to nurses today.

If you feel called to spend your career working as a registered nurse (RN) in the traditional sense, you will find no shortage of opportunities to practice and fulfilling experiences to learn from. However, if you wish to achieve more in your nursing career, there are many different avenues to choose from.

Some nurses choose to specialize in a particular area of medicine, while others seek to fill positions of leadership in the field of healthcare. Such paths can prove to be difficult to pursue, but in the end, you can set yourself up to achieve a great deal from your nursing career.

If you are about to start your career in nursing and are looking for ways to achieve more, here are a few tips to help you along.

Know What Degree(s) You Need

When you are pursuing a career in nursing, or any healthcare-related career for that matter, you will need to obtain the right level of education. However, the type of degree or degrees you earn will depend on the path you wish to take with your career. 

For instance, if you are looking to work as an RN and would like to get your career started as soon as possible, you can do so by obtaining a two-year associate degree in nursing. Those looking to take their careers farther, though, will want to consider earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to obtain their RN license.

Even though such a degree takes four years to complete, it will qualify you to enroll in any master’s degree programs that you might need in order to achieve what you want to out of your nursing career. Of course, the particular master’s or doctoral degrees you consider earning will depend on the type of role in nursing you want to pursue.

For instance, if you would like to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), you will need to earn a minimum of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Several advanced practice nursing roles require a doctoral degree in nursing.

While earning an advanced degree involves a commitment of time, often taking at least a year to complete, there are ways of making your dreams of achieving more from your nursing career a reality. For example, if you are planning to continue working full time while you earn your degree, you can consider earning your degree online from an institution like Marymount University.

You should also communicate with your employer about your aspirations and plans to earn your degree. They will most likely be more than willing to help you find flexibility in your schedule so that you can advance your career. Such a move would be mutually beneficial to both of you, so do not be afraid to speak up about your degree.

Find a Mentor

Throughout your nursing career, you will make a variety of professional connections that will come in handy. However, one of the most beneficial connections that you can make is with a professional mentor.

A mentor is someone who has achieved things in their career that you hope to achieve yourself one day. They should also be someone who you feel comfortable going to when you have questions about your job or your career path in general.

If you have such a person in your professional circle who possesses the qualities of a mentor, waste no time in asking them if they would be willing to mentor you. Chances are, they will be happy to assume such a role and help you to take your career to the next level.

When choosing a mentor, consider people in your professional network who inspire you to take your career further. If you do not have anyone in particular who comes to mind for the role of mentor, you might check in with your employer to see if there is a mentorship program in place at your place of work.

If you are still struggling to find your ideal mentor, some third-party organizations work to connect mentors with mentees throughout various healthcare disciplines. Look into what programs would be possible options for you and see what it would take to enroll so that you can find your mentor.

Learn to Network

So much about achieving more from your nursing career is going to involve your professional connections. Not only will you most likely find your mentor from among your professional network, but you never know what sort of career advancement opportunities will present themselves through your connections.

That being said, networking is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. It takes work and dedication in order to cultivate a useful professional network, regardless of what sort of job you have. Thankfully, there are a number of resources available to nurses who are looking to grow their professional network.

For starters, you should look to join a professional organization for nurses in your specialty. If you wish to pursue a particular area of nursing, you should join an applicable organization. Not only will you receive up-to-date information about your specialty, but you will have access to networking opportunities where you can connect with your fellow nurses either in person or virtually.

Learning to the network might take some effort, but it is one of the things that can really help you to move your nursing career along in the right direction. Moreover, you can do some practical things that can help you become better at networking.

Remember that networking with other professionals involves being able to start and carry on conversations about your line of work. Focus on listening to the other individual as well as sharing your own experiences as a nurse. Also, do not forget the power of social media when it comes to building your professional network.

Work on Your Professional Skills

Jobs in healthcare tend to involve quite a bit of technical and practical skills. This is why so much of your training is done in the clinical setting. However, if you want to achieve more in your nursing career, you will need to work on other professional skills that do not necessarily pertain to medicine.

For instance, you won’t be able to take your career in nursing very far unless you have excellent communication skills. Not only do you need to have the ability to communicate with your fellow nurses and the rest of the medical team on which you serve regarding the care and treatment of your patients, but you will also need to be able to effectively communicate with those patients.

Communicating with patients can be a difficult task at the best of times. It is always good to remember that while you might have extensive knowledge about the field of healthcare and have seen a great deal in the healthcare setting, you will have patients who have never been exposed to such things before. Being able to listen to them with patience and empathy as well as communicate necessary information to them with clarity is all part of the job of a nurse.

Other professional skills that you will need to develop, and hone include critical thinking skills, time management skills, and organizational skills. At the end of the day, your ability to become a successful nurse will involve becoming a successful professional in a more general sense. With the right professional skills under your belt, you can find yourself being considered for leadership positions and greater responsibility in the world of healthcare.

Do not Neglect Your Mental Health

It is no secret that the demands of a job in healthcare can often lead to mental health struggles. There is simply so much pressure on nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to take on more work than ever before and deliver the very best care to every patient they come across. Unfortunately, this pressure can easily lead to some difficult situations when it comes to mental health.

Furthermore, the typical work schedule of a healthcare professional like a nurse can be incredibly exhausting. From working nights to spending entire shifts on your feet, you will find yourself quite tired by the end of most of your shifts. Since physical exhaustion is linked to certain mental health conditions, you need to ensure that you are getting the rest you need between shifts.

Ultimately, neglecting your mental health can result in burnout with your job. Not only will this harm your motivation to achieve more in your career, but it can put an actual halt to the process in general. Looking after your mental health is a big part of finding success in the world of nursing.

Make sure that you are checking in with yourself from a mental perspective every so often. If you do start to notice signs that you are starting to suffer under the weight of the stress of your job, take a time out to address it. You will not be doing yourself or your patients any favors by putting your mental health on the backburner.

Know Your Goals

The main key to finding success in any industry is to have a firm understanding of what your goals in your career truly are. It is all good and well to know that you want to find success as a nurse but having a clearer idea about what that success looks like will help you to make informed decisions regarding your career progression and professional development.

Take the time to think about where you see yourself several years down the line in your career. If you envision yourself working as an FNP, for example, you need to make yourself aware of what steps will be necessary for you to take and roughly how much of a time commitment you will need to make to make your vision a reality.

It can be a difficult thing to figure out what your specific career goals are. Do not worry if it takes you a little while to evaluate your options and decide what sort of nursing role you want to pursue. There are certainly plenty of options to consider, so make sure that you find the right path that will make the most use of your natural abilities and talents.

Moreover, do not be surprised if your professional goals change or alter along the way. You might start out on one path only to find yourself being naturally pulled in an entirely different direction down the line. The things you experience and the people you meet throughout your nursing career will influence your path, so do not worry if things turn out to be different from what you had initially envisioned for yourself.

Ultimately, finding success as a nurse and achieving the most out of your career is going to be a long process. However, when all is said and done, you can make a big difference in the lives of your patients and build a successful career for yourself.