A hundred years have passed since the first nurse registration took place. Today, nursing is at a pivotal moment where the opportunities to develop a career and innovate to improve care for patients have never been greater.
There have never been so many diverse opportunities for nursing in today’s healthcare sector. As technology advances and life expectancy has increased, innovative ways of working are beginning to rapidly shape the nursing career pathway.
But how can you find out more about these new alternatives, and how can you prepare to step into these roles to further your nursing career? These 5 opportunities will give you the creative motivation you need to move into your next nursing role.
Specialize in Areas of High Demand
The world of nursing has changed dramatically in the last generation and from many nurses’ training days. Today, hospital beds are filled with more older people with complex conditions, multiple long-term illnesses, and frailty issues. People who would have spent several days recovering in a hospital are now looked after at home, and technology is transforming the way that clinics are operated. What was once a major surgical procedure is now done by interventional radiology. All these changes mean that nursing has had to adapt and transform to meet the new and increasing demand.
If you plan on furthering your career in nursing, check out the areas where demand is and will be increasing in the next few years. Wound care, for example, is an area of high demand but that has a shortage of skilled practitioners. Along similar lines, good discharge planning is critical with increased scrutiny from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Might you be that expert planner?
As for technological advances, artificial intelligence already has impacted many areas of healthcare, but are you aware of how it could transform the way you work? As surgical techniques advance, there is a need to train nurses in new ways of working in the clinical teams. All these opportunities indicate a need to start specializing where there is high demand.
Further Your Education
There is always something new to learn, however long you have been in the nursing profession. Discover which skills you need to take the next step in your career and start looking at how you can learn about a new specialty or way of working.
Brian Cook, a registered nurse working in Chicago, outlines his reasons for furthering his education:
“One of the reasons I chose to get my Master’s degree upon deciding to become a nurse for my second career was that I had spoken with a nurse who had also started it as a second career, but had only gotten his Bachelor’s degree; he advised me to get a master’s from the start. He had found that there were openings in management roles at his hospital that he knew he would be capable of performing, but that he couldn’t even apply for them without the capital MSN behind his name. His fundamental point: the more education you have, the higher you’ll be able to advance; but also that once you start working, the barriers to continuing your education become very real.”
That said, you do not need to get your master’s degree to improve your career possibilities. There are ample courses and programs available including higher degrees. The internet has transformed learning by offering online opportunities. These courses usually have a flexible learning approach, which is ideal if you are working and studying at the same time.
Don’t forget to look at the taster courses that are available online free. These give an insight into diverse skills and education opportunities, enabling you to get a feel for an aspect of learning without making a large investment in training. When you are looking at educational courses, do check out their credibility and that what they are offering is recognized by employers. This saves a lot of heartache by inadvertently taking a substandard course.
As a nurse, there are so many opportunities to follow on a career journey. It is worth having a subspecialty within your portfolio as it builds specialist expertise. This enables you to apply for and get niche roles and a higher salary where skills are in demand. Pediatrics, mental health, renal, critical care, and oncology nursing are just some of the subspecialist areas where demand outstrips the availability of qualified staff and where there are opportunities to grow your career. This not only furthers your career as a clinical nurse but enables you to have that expertise to manage specialist and niche departments or to work in a community setting using your specialism. It may also be a stepping stone to clinical education or research.
Get A Mentor
Advancing your nursing career goes further than courses or degrees. You’ll need to learn the softer skills associated with leadership, developing others, and dealing with challenging situations effectively. One of the best ways to do this is to find a mentor who can guide you through leadership scenarios, enabling you to grow and develop your skills.
Keeping a portfolio with a reflective diary also helps with learning from practice. Some interviews use scenarios to test for the experience of situations such as implementing a change in a department so having these records helps with job application preparation. And when you achieve that goal of being in a senior position, you can repay the love by mentoring a nurse hoping to further their career.
Look for the Next Trend
There are countless opportunities for nurses to innovate and develop their careers. This involves looking for the next big trend and being ready to step up. Examples include global shortages of specialist doctors and exploring where nurse practitioners can take on work once done by them, and especially where there are gaps in services.
Again, technology is another opportunity where nurses can provide salient and practical advice or educate others. With the introduction of methods in artificial intelligence, there will be opportunities to predict disease and support those people at risk to stay healthy. All these roles are opportunities for nurses to grow, develop, and further their careers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathy St. Fleur is a registered nurse with over 15 years of experience in healthcare administration, nursing, and case management. She currently serves as the Director of Intake Services for Vohra Wound Physicians. She lives in south Florida with her four children. Kathy is passionate about helping other nurses expand and enhance their careers both at the bedside and beyond.