In the USA, registered nurses (RN) have many career options. It is possible for an RN to shift to another speciality of nursing without changing the healthcare facility. For example,
An ER (emergency room) nurse may work in nurse informatics after receiving adequate education and training.A Registered Nurse may work from home as a ‘health coach’ for an insurance company or may work as a Travel Nurse (self-employed professional or employed through an agency).
However, these opportunities are available to the nurses who have gathered experience in clinical nursing and have cared for the patients in a healthcare setting. For example,
A nurse without experience in clinical nursing may not be hired as a Health Coach. It is equally important to have at least 1-2 years of experience if you want to become a ‘travel nurse’.
Therefore, you have many career options after becoming an RN (registered nurse) if you receive the necessary training and have the experience of working as a nurse. It is equally important to remember that your education and work experience must match your career goals.
Recommended Tips to Advance your Nursing Career
Invest in Nursing Education
If you have plans to climb up the career ladder, then it is important to invest in your education. Nurses also need to invest in their education and need to learn new skills or acquire higher degrees in education if they do not want to miss lucrative opportunities in career.
A registered nurse may complete a training program for diploma, associate degree or certificate. However, you must fulfil the responsibilities of your current employment whilst pursuing a training program to further your career. You also have to think about paying the tuition costs. You may advance in your career within 5-10 years if you invest wisely in your education and training. For example,
You may have a diploma in nursing alongside having a bachelor’s degree in another subject. In this scenario, you may pursue an online course to acquire a bachelor’s degree in nursing.On the other hand, you may pursue an associate degree in nursing if you are LPN (licensed Practical Nurse).
Once you have higher education and advanced level of skill set, you may search for jobs with better remuneration where you may have leadership opportunities. You may work in the field of medical research, administration, policymaking, education and training or public healthcare.
Enrich Career Experience
You can apply for higher designations if you have higher degrees in nursing alongside having at least 3-5 years of experience in clinical nursing. You may even need a higher level of experience when applying for some positions. Your potential employees will determine whether you are suitable for a position or not based upon your professional experience.
It is important to carefully select the speciality when you start working as a grad nurse, as the selected speciality is supposed to help you move higher on the career-graph. For example, you may want to work as a ‘travel nurse’ in the future. In this scenario, you may start working as a ‘float nurse’. This selection may help you reach the goal of working as a ‘travel nurse’.
Go for Networking
Social and professional networking has always been important for moving higher in the career graph. In this digital age, it has become easier to connect to professionals from different fields of medicine. You may build a network within the community or the state. You may even search for global communities with similar interests. These days, you will find different types of professional networks, groups or nursing associations for networking.
You may share your professional experience and ideas within a professional community. You may learn new approaches and solutions through this exchange of information. It is essential to determine your focus in the field of nursing before being associated with any community. For example, you may be focused on improving the experience and care for patients. In this scenario, you must find groups or communities with similar interests. It is essential to exchange ideas with other professionals from the nursing field, medical experts and mentors from the healthcare sector or outside of this sector if you want to sharpen your skills.
Look for Mentors and Follow Them
It is important to have a role model if you want to advance in your career. A mentor can guide you with their valuable insights acquired from their professional experience and academic knowledge. You will receive advice, guidance and suggestions regarding your career from the mentors.
You must reach out to the mentors for coaching, wisdom and guidance. Hence, it is important to have a successful and experienced nursing professional as your mentor. However, it is equally important to have a mentor who makes you feel comfortable and inspired. A mentor will also encourage you to give your best. It is important to have a senior colleague as your mentor instead of asking your supervisor, as you will spend most of your time with your co-workers and will have better opportunities to learn from them.
You may even ask for the guidance of professionals outside of the healthcare sector in order to evaluate your career path from another perspective. You may even receive practical and professional advice from various mentoring organizations and programs. You may even receive useful advice through research groups, nursing associations or journal clubs.
Maintain Professionalism and Competency
Professionalism is an important factor if you want to succeed in any field of profession. You have to respect patient confidentiality and privacy when working as a nurse. It is also important for a nurse to be honest with the patients. These qualities enable you to foster healthy relations with co-workers and patients. If you want to have better skills set and maintain competency, then having a positive attitude enables you to add value to your service.
Nurses can influence the quality of a health organization along with the health of the patients. Hence, honesty, professionalism and ethics have to drive a nurse’s behaviour and influence his/her decisions. You also need to be careful about the type of content posted on the social media profiles, as your employer may keep an eye on the type of content. It is important not to share any confidential information regarding a patient or a medical organization or anything controversial that may leave a negative impression in your employer’s mind.
Be Ready with Your Career Portfolio
There may be hundreds of applicants with the same level of education and skills to apply for the same position at an organization. Therefore, it is essential to be skilled at marketing your abilities or qualities if you want to build a successful career. Your ‘career portfolio’ will represent your skills and will demonstrate your abilities to the potential employer. You will not miss the rare job opportunities if you have an updated career portfolio.
Based on your career portfolio, an interviewer can determine how much knowledge you have on various subjects or how much experience you have in clinical nursing. Hence, it is important to maintain an organized ‘career portfolio’ with copies of certificates and credits. It is equally important to mention the plan for your career in the portfolio. If you receive any type of training, then it is important to mention the name of the current training program.
Nursing is regarded as a flexible profession where you can change the speciality based upon your preference if you have the necessary knowledge and abilities. You must develop yourself as a nursing professional
if you want to climb up the career graph.
It is equally important to develop the skills required for the position of your choice. For example, you must strengthen the conflict management and communication skills if your aim is to acquire a position in the administration. It is equally important for the nurses to develop leadership skills before exploring opportunities within an organization and this industry.