The nursing profession is one of the lifelines of the workforce in any healthcare facility. The need for a qualified and skilled nurse is always on the rise and the number of eligible nurses available is low.
In the last few years specifically post-pandemic the shortage of qualified nurses is severe and a problem that cannot be undermined by governments, regulatory authorities of practice and license requirements, academic institutions, and other stakeholders of the healthcare industry.
In the given conditions if a nurse wants to further the nursing career path then it will be a rewarding experience with lucrative jobs and higher pay structures. The opportunities a nurse has to build a successful nursing career are plenty. But one needs to look into what needs to be done to further one’s career as a nurse.
Let us look at some of the paths a nurse can take to achieve both professional and personal satisfaction as a nurse:-
Under academic paths, all the paths that will require a nurse to enhance her existing skills either through another academic program or on-job training can be explored.
An LPN is the fastest route to start working as a nurse and can be completed within a year. To become a registered nurse or an RN one goes through the ADN route which can be completed in two years and or take an RN-BSN route which can be completed as a regular bachelor’s program in three years. Most roles that need critical or specialized care will prefer to hire an RN-BSN over an RN with an associate diploma.
Several schools started offering an online nursing program and accelerated programs for BSN-MSN to already accredited LPNs. So even an LPN who joined a healthcare facility early in life can consider a bridge or an accelerated program that saves money and time.
An RN-BSN or RN-ADN can further get into a certificate program that is accredited by the respective state and national nursing boards in their choice of specialty. The scope for pediatric, oncology, senior care, urology, cardiology, and intensive care unit special nurses is high.
A nurse who has offered to assist with any new technological transformations at their workplace is an asset when the new upgrade is rolled-out. Even nurses who are not digitally comfortable should step out of their safe zone and try to adapt to the digital future in the healthcare industry. This space is set out to seek the maximum benefit from rapid-paced tech upgrades that are going to change the way healthcare operations are carried out. Nurses who can access informatics to assess the patient data, and read business intelligence dashboards to make quick decisions that can enhance better and safe patient care and experience will always be in demand. And on the contrary, those who don’t match the pace of their learning with these transformations will feel left out.
The non-academic paths that offer growth to a nursing career are essential to make a good nurse a great one.
Experienced nurses can consider training future nurses by becoming nurse instructors or an educator. Often nurses with an RN-BSN who started teaching future nurses were inspired to pursue MSN and Doctoral programs in nursing. Though in a way this is an academic progression in the career, the inspiration comes from a motivation to give back to the community that made them what they are.
Apart from teaching, there are several roles in the healthcare industry that specifically ask for an experienced nurse. Clinical trials by pharma companies are critical to the research and manufacturing of new-age drugs that combat diseases. These roles often seek eligible people with nursing as their core profession. Their ability to work with doctors and the patient community and clinical knowledge with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention is a required job description for critical parallel roles in the healthcare industry.
Any career will stagnate if one is not sure where they want to end up a few years down the line. One needs to avoid such blockages by not only setting goals but also periodically reviewing them. A job is going to be a rewarding experience only when one’s passion, skills, and knowledge are aligned to work in an employable field, gives good pay, and is purposeful for society at large.
One has to be mindful of their abilities and what is relevant both now and in the future. Adapting a path that can be streamlined along their abilities and enhancing their skills as and when possible and necessary, will help them in the process of staying employable in the future. Most of the time, a nurse will find that their career has been a path of continuous learning.
Trying to be efficient at what we already know is an easy step but one that can make us indispensable to the workflow. If you are good at collecting and organizing data then volunteer to take on this work for your team. The mundane yet boring activities you do, may not be recollected on a day-to-day basis, but when it is time for appraisals, the senior and advanced clinical directors will acknowledge all those little things you did to be a reliable member of the nursing team.
Talk to seniors
It is a given thing that nurses have crazy days most of the time. But whenever time permits, remember to talk to your line-in-charge nurse. They are the best mentors and can guide you to move up the ladder of your career. They come with an abundance of resourceful information and can recommend your name to attend nursing conferences that will look great on your resume.
Nursing is a fulfilling profession and will be so, at least till the current and future shortages are eased by digitally equipped nurses, who are good at giving the best care in an ever-changing dynamic world of the healthcare industry. One just has to be ready to embrace the path to build a successful career as a nurse and caregiver.