Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the United States, and with more than 3 million licensed NPs, RNs, and CNAs, there are hundreds of candidates who are applying for the same leadership positions at hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities across the country.1 If you are ready to get to the next stage of your nursing career, you may need to make changes that will set you apart from the competition.
An advanced nursing degree, license, or professional certification can make a huge difference when you search for a leadership position in your area. But there are other ways that you can stand out in this highly-competitive field, and many of them do not require any additional training. Here are four things that you can do to build a successful nursing career:
Know Your Worth
Take a moment to think about a NP, RN, or CNA who has built a successful nursing career. What have they accomplished? How do they treat their patients? How do they share their best practices, knowledge, and professional insight with others? How did they become a leader in their department, and why do you turn to them for advice and guidance during your shift?
The people who are responsible for hiring, transferring, and firing employees in your organization are paying attention to those qualities, and they will consider the skills and abilities of each candidate when they decide to promote from within. If you are ready to take on a leadership role in your department, you need to consider how you would measure up if they compared you to another nurse or nursing assistant who has all of the qualities that you admire.
You may find that you have room to improve, and if so, there are plenty of changes that you can make to update your soft skills. You can volunteer in a healthcare setting to get more practice, sign up for a leadership development program, or find a mentor who can help you advance in your chosen field.
Build Your Professional Network
Networking is more important than you think — eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through the hiring manager’s professional network, and eighty percent of adult professionals believe that networking has played an important role in their career success.2,3 If you want to become a leader in your department, organization, or field, you need to build a professional network that can help you expand your reach.
Of course, the practice of networking will vary from person to person. One nurse may focus on their personal relationships with their coworkers, inviting them out for coffee, drinks, or playdates with their kids; another nurse may speak at professional workshops and conferences to share their knowledge with others. Think about the scope of your career goals, and the level of influence that you would like to have with other professionals in your field, and choose networking techniques that will help you achieve your individual goals.
Become A Better Communicator
There are so many skills, abilities, and talents that set nurses up for long-term success, but many of them are based on effective communication practices. A great nurse knows how to listen to their patients and provide comfort, aid, and care in a difficult environment; to share their progress with nursing leadership, administrative staff, and subordinates while building connections; to find healthy ways to cope with on-the-job stressors. If you are ready to take on a leadership position at your current hospital, nursing home, or alternative medical facility, you should start by improving you communication skills.
There are a wide range of books that you can use to become a better communicator, such as Communication for Nurses: Talking with Patients by Lisa Sheldon and Talk Like A Nurse: Communication Skills Workbook by Dr. Susan Dandridge Bosher; you can also take continuing education courses at a local college or university to brush up on your communication skills.
Evaluate Your Options
At the same time, we know that you may not be able to find the right nursing jobs at your current place of employment. If you are searching for a leadership position in a new organization, a nurse staffing agency can help you move forward with your career.
With thousands of job opportunities at local and regional medical facilities, this is the perfect time for you to start the application process — click on the button below to find nursing jobs in your area.