You’ve been a nurse for a few years, but every so often you wonder if you’re hitting all the right markers in your career path. Are you moving up, reaching your goals or just treading water? Here are some signposts to guide your next moves.
Signpost 1--Where Are You Now?
Are you generally happy with your present status? Do you look forward to your shift? Do you feel like you’re really making a difference in people’s lives? Are you overwhelmed by the “paperwork” and too many details of your present job? You need to know where you are now as a starting point. If things are running more or less smoothly and you have few work or people conflicts, there’s no need for an immediate change. If on the other hand, you feel mentally and physically exhausted and wonder what work would be like on the next rung up the ladder (or even a different ladder), it might be time for a change. Check out this general career mapping video, Starting Your Career Map.
Signpost 2—Where You Want to be Next Year
If you crave a change in your career, you’ll need to establish some short-term goals before you go for the major career shift. As with long-term goals, short-term goals call for planning. If you’re shooting for the next rung up the ladder to nurse supervisor or head nurse, you may need to evaluate your current certifications and training. In Advancing Your Career: Concepts in Professional Nursing, Rose Kearney Nunnery RN PhD advises those seeking advancement to expand their knowledge base and to join professional organizations that are specific to their nursing career segment. This will take a commitment in personal time, something you’ll need to schedule around. You’ll also need to examine your employer’s organization chart to see if there’s room for anyone on the next rung up the ladder. If the position was recently filled or cutbacks forced the position to be eliminated, you may have to switch employers.
Signpost 3—Where You Want to be in 5 Years
Planning this stage of your career can be difficult, particularly in these perilous economic times. With Obamacare being implemented and healthcare institutions wielding the “layoff knife,” you need to carefully evaluate the skillsets you have and those you’ll need to move up. You may have to go back to school, seek even more certifications or segue into an entirely different subfield—like senior care, home care, counseling or pharmaceuticals. It’s important to know where healthcare is going and to ride the crest of emerging opportunities.
Signpost 4. Where You Want to End Up
Surprisingly, this is often the least difficult part of a career path to envision, for it allows the imagination to roam free. No one really knows where healthcare will be in a decade or so. Which means you can dream to become a professor of nursing, a VP or Senior Manager. If you aim this high (as opposed to simply remaining a nurse or nurse supervisor), you’ll need to plan ahead and segue into increasingly responsible roles, more certifications and education. At this point, you should seek out a senior mentor, someone who is currently teaching or has risen to the top and consult with him or her on a regular basis. In From Staff Nurse to Manager: A Guide to Successful Role Transition, Christie Osuagwu and Godwin Osuagwu note the importance of becoming professionally active—joining key professional organizations and serving on various committees inside and outside your organization. They add that nurses seeking promotions must become more savvy in the management of resources—including material, financial and human.
Is your career on target? Are you following the right signposts? Time to get busy and map out your career.
Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net