Careers in healthcare, such as nursing, can be extremely fulfilling and meaningful, and many nurses may see their job role as a vocation. However, even the most meaningful careers can leave you feeling trapped and bored if you are unable to find the personal progression that you need to stay challenged and engaged at work. This guide will detail the best ways that to advance your career in the new year and help you to feel reinvigorated by your job again.
1. Specialize Your Career
Although you might enjoy practicing as a GP or family nurse, which are both reasonably general vocations, you may have a specific area of interest or a pathway that you want to research and pursue more. Finding your niche in healthcare, such as becoming a midwife or specializing in certain types of care, can allow you to find new, challenging pathways in a career that you love. Top specialisms include:
- Pain Management
- Community Health
- Aged Care
- Mental Health
Not only this, but it can also help your career advancement by allowing you to stand out from other candidates applying for the same job roles, especially if you are considering choosing a specialty where there is a lack of nurses applying for in-demand roles. There are currently 1.2 million projected vacancies in registered nursing. This will be especially important in the next couple of years, due to an aging population and a growing industry.
2. Take a Masters Degree
As a nurse, it will already have been necessary to take a number of qualifications throughout your training, and the minimum requirements are to take an Associate’s Degree in Nursing if you want to work as a nurse in the USA. However, many nurses look to increase their knowledge and skills by taking additional qualifications which can teach them about specialisms in healthcare, as well as prepare them for leadership positions in the future. You will need a degree if you want to be a:
- Registered Nurse
- Family Nurse
- Advanced Practice Nurse
- Nursing Manager
- Clinical Specialist
- Nurse Administrator
- Critical Care Registered Nurse
Master’s degrees are one of the most popular options as they allow you to consolidate and build upon the basic extent of knowledge learned at college. To get a Master’s degree, nurse practitioner schools can provide you with comprehensive programs that allow you to hone your clinical skills, as well as focus on advanced forms of nursing with topics such as pharmacology. These degrees can also help you to build up your network opportunities in order to expand your potential for career progression on your completion of the course.
3. Take a Sabbatical
If you want to give yourself a year or more to focus on your career progression in healthcare, then why not consider taking a sabbatical? Taking a sabbatical is your best opportunity to focus on your personal growth without having to balance this with a job position. During your sabbatical, you should consider travel nursing, taking a new qualification or course, retraining or even conducting your own independent research which may help to aid your career in the future. However, you must have a specific purpose in taking a sabbatical, and you will likely return to your job after the year is over, with your employer holding your position until you return.
4. Find Leadership Opportunities
If you are already working within a healthcare role, you should not allow yourself to get comfortable. Rather than wait for nursing opportunities to come to you, it is important that you seek out leadership opportunities for yourself. You should always volunteer to take on leadership responsibilities when requested and should take on any new experiences where you might be able to learn skills to add to your repertoire. New skills that are vital for nursing include:
- Employee management
- Problem solving and logic
- Emotional stability
- Interpersonal skills
You can also find leadership opportunities by discussing your interest with your unit manager, as you may be able to find out more information or learn more about what you need to do to gain a promotion within your facility. If you are unable to find leadership experience at your current workplace, you should consider looking for a placement in a different workplace which could potentially help you to learn and gain experience of the same skills.
5. Join Professional Organizations
Joining a professional nursing organization is not only about making your resume shine, although joining one also has the potential of doing just that. Instead, joining a nursing organization is your best opportunity to network with other individuals and companies within your sector, allowing you to establish connections that may lead to opportunities such as work experience, placements or even job offers. What’s more, networking gives you the opportunity to speak to other individuals in healthcare who may be able to give you advice, tips and information that could help your career and broaden your knowledge of healthcare and nursing in the long-term. Professional organizations also often offer conferences and talks on a yearly basis, which can allow you to find out more about the latest advancements in tech, the newest research and even listen to an inspirational speaker who can encourage you to recommit to your passion for healthcare. Professional organizations may also be able to provide you with career tips and advice as an organized service, as well as offering you discounts on training courses and certifications. They can also offer other products and services which may be of use to help you advance your career in healthcare and aid our knowledge base.
6. Find Out About Career Progression Programs
Lastly, many hospitals and care units hold career progression programs that can fast-track applicable candidates to help them to quickly get promoted and allow them to learn the skills that they need to enable them to take on leadership opportunities. These programs are aimed to boost learning and knowledge, as well as practical skills and understanding. It is important that you find out about these opportunities before you apply for roles in care facilities by discussing this with your unit manager.
7. Seek a Mentor
When you are at the start of your career it can be extremely daunting, especially if you have not heard much prior experience in the world of healthcare. However, seeking a mentor can help you to be guided through your first couple of years as a healthcare practitioner. Mentors can:
- Provide you with a constant source of support
- Give you advice and guidance on your career and the next steps that you should be taking
- Help you to learn, providing you with their research and helping to share knowledge with you
- Give you financial support and invest in your career, such as helping to fund training courses and travel experiences
Although you might believe that finding a mentor is difficult, the best opportunity that you have for finding one is through networking. By joining a networking group in healthcare, either online or in your local area, you will be able to connect with individuals who are interested in building connections and becoming mentors throughout your career. Either that, or you may be able to build up connections with companies that can then lead to mentoring opportunities. Additionally, many healthcare facilities run in-house mentoring programs. This can allow you to shadow and learn from someone further along in their career in the same facility as you, which can be particularly beneficial if you want to continue your career in this same unit.
8. Consider Shadowing
Shadowing is another form of work experience specifically tailored towards career progression for already employed healthcare professionals. Shadowing normally takes place within the organization where you work. This can be extremely advantageous for those looking for leadership positions due to the opportunity of finding out more about the job roles that you are interested in and what daily life in these positions looks like. This will help you to establish whether this is truly a job role that you would be interested in, as well as aiding you in learning different skills needed for these roles. Not only will you be getting the experience that you ultimately need, you will increase your practical knowledge.
9. Always Keep Researching
The healthcare and nursing sector is constantly changing, with many new advancements in healthcare occurring every day due to constant research into different conditions and the care of patients. Therefore, it is always important to stay updated with the latest developments and understand how this will affect your job role, especially if you have not committed to a training course recently or have been out of education. By researching your job role, you will be able to stay experienced and knowledgeable in your field and ensure that you do not get left behind with an outdated understanding of healthcare practices. To conduct this research, you should read academic journals and databases on a regular basis, as well as subscribing to online magazines and websites which have authority in your field, many of which publish daily articles with breaking news in the healthcare sector.