9 Things to Consider Before Advancing Your Nursing Career

Working as a registered nurse is one of the most rewarding career options in the world. Whether you are fairly new to the world of nursing and already know that you want to progress your career in the future, or whether you’ve been working as a nurse for a while and are looking for a change that offers you more responsibility, autonomy, and a better rate of pay, the good news is that advancing your career path as a nurse is not difficult. There are so many options to choose from and what’s even better is that you can often train as you work so that you don’t have to worry about taking time off from your nursing career to get to where you want to be. Today, there’s a huge range of online and campus-based classes, evening classes, and even on-the-job training programs that you can take advantage of in order to earn more qualifications and take your nursing career in the direction that you want it to go. So, how do you choose the right training program when it comes to advancing your nursing career?

Consider What You Enjoy:

Nursing really does have an option for everybody, and you will be more passionate about meeting your goals if you are working towards doing something that you know you are going to truly enjoy. Consider all the aspects of nursing that you have experienced so far and think about which ones have spoken to you the most. If you enjoyed working at a doctor’s office, for example, you might want to think about becoming a family nurse practitioner, or you could consider getting into pediatric nursing if you have enjoyed working with children more than most other patients so far. There’s an option for everything when it comes to progressing your nursing career so ask yourself which environments you prefer working in, what kind of working hours suit you best, which patient populations you enjoy working with the most, and which conditions and diseases you have the most interest in. This will help you choose a specialist area if needed and point your career in a direction that is going to be both enjoyable and fulfilling for you.

What You Want to Study:

It is also worth noting that there are several different options when it comes to studying for an advanced nursing degree or improving your nursing knowledge and skills in a specific subject or area. For example, if you know for certain that you want to move up the ranks in your nursing career and eventually work as a nurse practitioner with full practice authority, you will need to get a master’s of science in nursing degree as a bare minimum. On the other hand, if you want to become a nurse anesthesiologist or work as an oncology nurse, chances are you will not need to earn a degree, but you will have access to a wide range of classroom, online, and work-based training programs that you can take advantage of to ensure that your career is going in the right direction.

How You Want to Study:

Along with considering the options that interest you the most when it comes to what you study, it’s also worth thinking about how you want to access the training programs that you sign up for. Consider whether or not you are prepared to put your nursing career on hold for a while as you advance it by quitting your job so that you can focus on studying full-time. If this is not possible for you right now, you may want to think about the option of working part-time so that you have more time to dedicate to studying and advancing your career. If you need to continue working as normal, then it’s worth considering taking an online MSN FNP degree that you can fit around your full-time work easier. Studying online is becoming an increasingly more popular option with nurses who want to advance their careers since it allows them the freedom and flexibility to decide how they want to juggle their studies and work and get the best results without having to make as many sacrifices.

Where to Study:

In nursing, many colleges, universities, and nursing schools will partner with certain hospitals and other healthcare settings to deliver a fuller learning experience to their students. This might play a part in where you decide to study for your advanced nursing degree, particularly if you hope to work at a certain healthcare institution or desire to work in a certain area or location in the future. For example, if you want to move out of state to find more advanced work as a nurse, this could play a part in where you decide to study for your advanced nursing degree as it will make it easier to get the required licenses for the state that you want to work in, along with finding work opportunities earlier.

How to Pay:

Another big question for many nurses who want to advance their careers is one of how to pay for their education. There’s no denying that getting an education does not come cheap these days and many nurses are already in a high amount of student debt when they decide to take on even more further education to advance their careers. Thankfully, the high demand for nurses means that there are several great opportunities that you can jump at in order to reduce the amount that you pay to advance your nursing education. Your employer may even be willing to foot some or all of your tuition bill if your education will be just as beneficial to them as it is to you. Those studying to become nurse practitioners in particular will find plenty of financing options at their disposal as the demand for good nurse practitioners rises. You can turn to private and federal student loans, scholarships, grants, and refinancing old student loans to make it easier to take on more student debt financially.

Scheduling Your Studies:

Making sure that studying for an advanced nursing degree or another advanced training course as a nurse is possible for you is key. Studying for an advanced degree while working in any full-time career is never an easy ride, particularly for nurses who are often juggling long and difficult shifts with having to attend classes or come home to study online. It’s definitely worth considering the various options available to you and determining what you can actually manage, whether that means reducing the amount of work that you do to free up time to study or studying part-time so that you can invest more time into work. Put together a schedule that would work for you in terms of how much time you have to work, study, and uphold other commitments such as spending time with your family, before choosing a program that is likely to work best for you.

Set Small Goals:

Having one main goal in mind, whether that’s gaining an advanced degree or starting to work in a new, more advanced nursing career is important – but it’s also important to consider the smaller goals along the way that are going to help you get there. For many people, simply having one large goal to work towards can get very overwhelming and this can quickly leave you feeling burned out and exhausted. As you move towards your advanced nursing career and juggle studying with working at the same time, think about the smaller goals that you are going to have to meet along the way in order to get to your ultimate goal and break things down into smaller chunks or periods of working. Consider the smaller goals that you’ll need to set and meet in order to ultimately get to where you need to be, and think about how you’re going to meet them – will you need to make any changes to your life? How easy or difficult will meeting these goals be? The more prepared you are for the work that you’re going to face, the easier it will be for you to advance your career as a nurse.

Get Support:

Advancing your nursing career as you work is not always easy, and many nurses find that they are going to need all the support that they can get. The first place where you are likely to look for support is your employer. Speak to your employer about your plans to advance your nursing career with an advanced degree or other training programs, and see if there is anything that they can offer you, whether it’s a job offer at the end of it, more experience on another department or in another area of healthcare that’s more in line with what you are studying, or a change to your work shifts or hours to make it easier for you to fit in your studies and get everything done. In addition to getting support from your employer, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need from the other important people in your life. Sit down with your spouse, kids, friends, and other relatives and let them know your plans, what they can expect, and how they can help you get there. Chances are that you are surrounded by people who are willing to help you in getting to where you want to be and reaching the goals that you have for your career, so utilize their support, whether it’s practical help or emotional support.

Be Realistic:

It’s important to be realistic as you decide how you are going to advance your nursing career, and this is likely to be something that you are going to have to revisit at various stages of your journey. Studying for an advanced nursing degree as you are working as a full-time nurse is not always easy or even possible depending on the type of work that you do, your other commitments, and how resilient you are. The last thing that you want is to make yourself sick, get burned out, or have your work performance suffer because you are taking on too much at once. Every few months, get really honest with yourself about how things are going, and don’t be afraid to slow things down if you feel that is what you need in order to be successful. Sometimes, you might find that slowing things down by studying part-time, for example, might be more helpful than simply trying to power through as it gives you some more space to breathe and take in the information that you are learning while giving it your best at work at the same time. If you find that an area of your life, whether it’s work, family, and friends, or your studies themselves are suffering, it might be time to get realistic about the expectations that you are putting on yourself and consider making things easier for you to manage in some way.

Nurses have lots of unique and exciting opportunities to advance their careers in many ways. You can move sideways and work in more specific, specialized areas of the nursing profession, work with certain patient demographics, conditions, diseases and treatments or train to work in specific healthcare environments. Nurses also have the option of moving upwards in their career, whether they would like to work in a more administrative environment, go into research, or continue working on the front line of healthcare as a nurse practitioner while enjoying a greater degree of responsibility, authority, and autonomy.

If you would like to advance your career as a nurse, there is certainly no shortage of options available to you to help you get there. Highly trained and specialized nurses are in higher demand than ever before today, and there is a wide range of degree programs and other training programs to help you reach your career goals faster since it benefits everybody. Before choosing how to advance your career as a nurse, consider these key factors to help you make the right decision.