Let’s talk nursing careers and how to take your career to the next level. At some point in your nursing career, you may question if you are working for the right organization or if you are working in the right role. Find out what to do to make yourself marketable.

Taking the time to stop and take stock of where you are in your nursing career can be an important step. We should all take periodic inflection points in our nursing careers, evaluate where we’ve been and where we want to go. Below are some things to consider as you evaluate your current position and future.

Nursing Careers: Aim for 5 Years of ICU Experience

Generally, the more experience you have the more opportunities be available to you. If you have been an ICU nurse for less than five years, you may need to stay put until you achieve this tenure benchmark. Once you have hit the 5-year mark, you will be considered a seasoned professional. While you wait to hit your 5-year mark, consider building up other areas of your resume such as seeking additional nursing degrees and/or certifications.

Education

Education is another critical factor when trying to enhance your career options. Commonly, a BSN degree is required at most reputable hospitals and facilities.

If you still only have your nursing associate’s degree, consider completing your BSN while continuing to bwhat uild up your tenure. This way you will be able to acquire more years on the job while pursuing your degree.  Why stop with your BSN? Read on to find out

Opportunities

Are there opportunities to advance into management or administration where you are currently working?

Advice for nursing careers: If your goal is to go into administration, it may take several years to reach your goal. As a first step, make sure you let your management team know this is your goal and find out what you need to do every year to get closer to a role in administration or management. Would it help you to take continuing education, certifications or earn a different nursing degree? It is important that you find out early so you can start working towards this.

It is important that you find out what is available to you as early as you can. Ask your co-workers about what type of opportunities for advancement are available and how long does it take to achieve those roles. If there are no opportunities for advancement or for acquiring specialized training or skills, you may want to explore other job openings either now or in the future. You are your best advocate!

Preferred Specialization

Do specific specializations interest you? For example, you may want to become a certified wound care specialist (CWCS). If your current organization doesn’t have ample opportunities for CWCS, don’t let that stop you. Seek additional certification on your own. By seeking additional certifications, this may open more doors for you later on, or at least differentiate you from other job candidates when searching for a new job.

The Value of Networking

Another important factor to consider is the size and strength of your network. Do an audit of who you know and identify who else from your past you can re-connect with.  It’s important to reconnect with those you attended college with, past co-workers and other people you admire in the profession. Have you considered finding a mentor? Having a strong network doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have Executive type connections. It can simply mean you have a tight-knit group of peers and a supervisor or two whom you can trust.

Give yourself a leg up by fostering a strong network, take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience and tenure, earn a BSN, MSN or DNP, and considering earning additional certifications to further differentiate yourself. You have no reason to settle. Make this year the best yet by investing in yourself!

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