When you are a nurse, you have many options open to you. As long as you have enough experience and the knowledge and qualifications required, you can effectively choose dozens of different career paths to follow. This is very exciting, and it’s one of the reasons some people choose to become nurses; they can carve out a meaningful and fascinating career for themselves. They can follow their dreams and reach their goals, all while helping other people.
Yet, although this is wondering and beneficial not only to the nurse in question but to their patients and future patients too, the question remains; how to tell if it’s time to advance in your nursing career? What are the signs that mean it’s the right time to take the next step, and then the next one after that, and so on? How can you know for sure that you’re making the right choice, especially when there are so many choices out there for you?
The truth is, it’s hard to know when to move forward. It’s hard to be entirely objective about your own skills and your weaknesses. It can also be a challenge to determine which path to take, even if you know where you ultimately want to end up. This can be problematic because it means that some nurses stay in one place, unsure about their next move. They will therefore miss out on some crucial elements of their career, and they might not get where they want to go because they don’t know what to do to get there.
With this in mind, here are some of the ways to tell that it’s time to take the next step and advance your career as a nurse. It might not always be easy, and there will always be a lot of work to do, but understanding what to look for or what it means to move forward is crucial and will help you make the right choice. Read on to find out more.
You Have A Clear Vision
We’ve talked about your ultimate goal and having a good idea of where you want to go in your nursing career, and now it’s time to look into this more closely. The truth is that unless you have a truly clear vision of where you want to go and what you want to do – what kind of nurse do you want to be, and what kind of nursing do you want to carry out? – then it will always be more difficult to move forward than if you understand exactly where you should be by your own particular deadline.
The main reason for this is motivation. If you set yourself a goal and even a timeframe in which to achieve that goal, you’ll be much more motivated to keep going and to push forward towards getting where you want to be. If you don’t have any idea of what you want or you only have a vague idea, you’ll find that the motivation is lacking, and you might not push yourself quite so hard. Even if you are ambitious, without having a plan in place for your career, you are effectively holding yourself back.
By making a plan for yourself and understanding what you want to do in your nursing career, you are much more able to make that happen. You’ll be able to advance more readily as you’ll know what choices to make to put you another step further towards achieving that goal. Crucially, you will have the motivation required to do what needs to be done, whether that’s applying for a new job, going back to school on an accelerated DNP program, or looking at your plans and readjusting them if necessary, for example.
It might seem as though you have to create a plan and stick to it no matter what. This would potentially be a mistake, and it’s ideal if your goals – and the route to them – can be flexible. You are perfectly well allowed to change your mind about something if it no longer appeals or if something else seems more interesting. You can delay your plans or speed them up. You can start all over again. As long as you know where you are going, even if that changes from time to time, you’ll be more likely to get there.
You Know Your Weaknesses
In order to reach your goals in nurse, whatever they might be, you’ll need to understand your weaknesses, and you’ll need to be entirely objective when you consider them. Everyone has some weaknesses, just as everyone has some strengths, and once you know what yours are, you can put measures in place to strengthen them. This will ensure you fill in any gaps in your skills and knowledge, and it will mean that you become a much more well-rounded person both in terms of your career and in your personal life too. Once you put the work in where it’s needed to push yourself forward, you’ll know whether you are capable of taking the next step or whether there is still more to go to get you there.
There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging them. In fact, this is a healthy thing to do. By pretending that you don’t have any weaknesses, the only thing you’re doing is fooling yourself and delaying your own career advancement. You’ll wonder why you can’t ever seem to move forward when the answer is simple; you need to work on yourself.
You Believe In Yourself
In some cases, understanding when it’s time to move forward and take the next step in your nursing career is very simple; you need to believe that you can take that step and achieve what you set out to do. The problem is that even if you have plenty of qualifications and achievements in your career and you have a lot of experience and knowledge, without a good level of confidence and self-belief, you won’t get very far. You won’t feel as though you’re ready to move forward, and if you don’t feel that, you simply won’t do it. This is the case even if, on paper, you are perfectly placed on applying for a job or a promotion; you still won’t do it because you can’t convince yourself that you can.
Self-belief is a very important element in life in general. You won’t get very far if you never try anything because you’re convinced you cannot do it. It’s exactly the same in your nurse career. You might have a plan in place, and you know what you want, and you might have the certification and licenses needed, but without self-belief, nothing will happen.
It’s difficult to obtain self-belief when you don’t have it, but one way to do it is to list out everything you have done in your career (or perhaps your life in general). By writing them down, you can see exactly how far you’ve come, and the act of making a list can jog some more memories, perhaps even reminding you of things you had actually forgotten about. When you look back at this list, you’ll be able to see that you are capable of achieving great things, and the motivation to move forward will return.
Another idea is to ask for feedback. Speak to your manager and your colleagues and ask them for an honest opinion of your work. This might be hard to do if you’re anxious about hearing anything negative, but even if they do have some negative feedback for you, this will be useful; it will give you something to work on, as we mentioned above. Plus, the positive aspects of what you’ll hear will help you understand that you are ready to do what you need to do to advance your career and see your ambitions come to life.
You Take The Initiative
Are you a reactive person or a proactive one? What does this mean? If you are reactive, you wait for something to happen before doing something about it. If you’re proactive, you’ll do something before anything happens. If you want to move forward in your nurse career, it’s best if you stay a step ahead and are as proactive as possible. In other words, don’t wait to be told that you can take the next step; take it when you know you’re ready to do so.
Being proactive isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally to everyone, but it is something that you can develop as you gain more confidence and more skills. The more you can be proactive and take the initiative, the more you’ll see what you can achieve. Plus, you won’t waste any time wondering when you should move forward or waiting for someone to give you permission. Not only is being proactive great for your future plans, but it’s also great for your work as a nurse too; you’ll be able to help patients much more if you’re not constantly waiting for instructions or permission to do something.
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