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Building a Career in Nursing: A Step-by-Step Guide

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The skills needed to become a nurse of the future

Nursing is one of the most important and fulfilling professions you can join. However, building a career in nursing can become quite complicated, especially if you have no idea where to start.

Factors such as education, previous experience, connections, and even your location will make an enormous impact on your nursing career path. This article will give you a step-by-step guide to help you realize your dreams and make the most out of your career.

1. Pursue Further Education

The minimum formal education requirement for a registered nurse is Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). However, this degree won’t get you far in terms of your professional career. Namely, if you wish to advance in the nursing profession, the best step you can take is pursuing further education.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a degree that could help you secure a higher-paying job with more advancement opportunities. What’s more, it will open doors for post-graduate education that could further advance your career.

Note that, at this point, you should already have some work experience or even a steady job. Otherwise, you might end up in an entry-level position even after years of education.

With a Master’s in Nursing (MSN), your possibilities become virtually endless. Namely, you can become anything from a nurse practitioner and educator to a nurse administrator. And although obtaining an MSN degree requires up to 3 years of study, it will lend you a cushy job you’ve always wanted.

Finally, if you are still not satisfied with your career path, Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing (PMC) is perfect for you. With this certificate, you will be able to gain an important and secure position without breaking a sweat.

However, make sure that you pick the right PMC for your dream job, as there are several Post-Master’s Certificates, each with its own narrow field of specialization.

2. Broaden Your Experience

Although education will be important for your career development, it’s not the only element of success. Namely, even with a doctorate in nursing, you won’t be able to advance any further without a considerable professional background. Therefore, you should make sure to broaden your experience in the nursing field by:

  • Volunteering: During your undergraduate studies, you won’t exactly be able to find a stable job. However, volunteering might be the next best thing as it will give you much-needed experience, as well as something to add to your resume. And last but not least, although this type of work is not paid, it won’t take much of your time and energy.
  • Internship: The main purpose of an internship is to develop your skills in a specific nursing field. A nursing internship usually involves a mentor that will guide you through day-to-day situations you will encounter as a future nurse. And although you don’t have to go through this process to obtain your degree, it will give your career an initial boost.
  • Getting a part-time job: If you choose to undertake post-graduate studies, getting a full-time job might be off the table. Namely, balancing between 40+ hour work weeks and college chores could prove more difficult than it first appears. However, getting a part-time job will solve this problem, as it will allow you to focus on your lectures while gaining work experience.
  • Mentorship: Unlike an internship, you can get mentorship at any point in your professional career. Having a more experienced and knowledgeable nurse as a mentor will equip you with the skills you need to climb the ladder. Furthermore, once your mentor retires, you will be the first candidate for their position.

3. Join a Professional Nursing Organization

Becoming a member of a professional nursing organization comes with a fair share of advantages. Namely, it gives you a platform to make new connections and learn from your peers and superiors. However, by far the greatest benefits of these organizations are the career advancement opportunities they provide.

First of all, by attending conferences, meetings, and other events, you will become more knowledgeable and improve your nursing skills. In turn, this will make you a perfect candidate for pay raises, promotions, and other professional opportunities.

Secondly, by creating a network of friends in the nursing field, you are more likely to be suggested for that managerial position you’ve always wanted.

Finally, some nursing organizations will act on behalf of employers and outright offer job opportunities to their members. Therefore, think about joining one of many professional nursing organizations, as it could do wonders for your career.

4. Move Abroad

Moving abroad should by no means be your first option when pursuing a nursing career. However, it might come in handy if you run out of opportunities in your home country. For instance, although some countries have a shortage of nurse practitioners, most of them have no lack of administrators or leaders. Therefore, in order to move up the ladder, you must relocate to a place that will provide you with more possibilities.

The perfect example of such a place is Australia. With handsome nurse salaries and plenty of advancement opportunities, Australia is one of the best countries for building a nursing career. Furthermore, countries such as Denmark, New Zealand, and Germany should also be among the top candidates.

Final Thoughts

Building a career in nursing from scratch is a fairly difficult task. However, with a decent education, solid experience, and good connections, you will be able to achieve your dreams. And if you still have difficulties getting recognized and rewarded by your employer, changing a job — or better yet, a country — will definitely solve this problem.