Choosing a career in nursing is a very rewarding yet challenging undertaking. There’s not a single person who could tell you it’s an easy job, as it tends to be filled with stress both emotional and physical, and your shifts will likely be fast-paced from start to finish each and every day. Not everyone is cut out for the path, but those who do choose it are incredibly strong individuals.
So, what happens if you’ve been working in the field as a nurse for a while now, you hold your BSN, and you’re ready to take your career a step further? Let’s say you want to advance to a more senior role such as the vice president of nursing, a chief nursing executive, or a chief nursing officer. In each of these roles, you’ll be setting the course for other nurses and really defining and guiding what is expected from them. It’s taking a step back from a primary caregiver, and instead, directing, managing, and guiding nurses.
Making this transition will take time, energy, focus, and hard work. With that in mind, it’s quite easy to feel burnt out in the process, especially if you continue to work as a nurse while pursuing advanced education. So, let’s take a look at some practical ways to stay healthy, fit, and focused while advancing your career.
Tell Yourself Your Personal Health is a Priority
First things first, it’s important to have the ideal mindset when it comes to your health. As a nurse, you’re used to placing your patient’s health as a priority, and you do all you can to ensure they get the best care possible. But what about your health? What about your care? You are just as important, and if you don’t stay healthy, then you can’t help your patients.
Giving yourself permission to see your needs as a priority is a fabulous first step. That means not feeling guilty when you do things that are just for you. It could be as simple as giving yourself permission to relax in a bubble bath – interruption-free – after each shift, or forcing yourself to take yearly holidays that require you to step out of the role of nurse and truly relax.
Set Your Career Goals
Simply stating that you want to advance your career is great, but how do you plan to do it? What is the career you want to advance to? Setting career goals for yourself to act as a blueprint, or a road map will help you to not only identify your goals but help you figure out the steps you need to take, and then track your progress.
Don’t forget that setting your career goals typically involves short and long-term goals. If you’re feeling unsure of what the next step is that you want to take, maybe take some time to do a little research on the field and figure out what options exist.
Enroll in an Online DNP Program
Another tip is to enroll in an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program such as the Executive Nurse Leadership path. This can be done entirely online, which gives you the freedom to keep working at the same time. This takes the stress out of how you will pay for school and your daily bills. Keep in mind for this option you will already need to hold your Master of Science in Nursing (MHA, MPH, or an MBA) or your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
The DNP executive leadership program will provide you with the skills, training, and knowledge you need to act in that leadership role. You won’t just be managing a staff of nurses; you’ll also be dealing with keeping costs under control, ensuring patient care is a priority, understanding and tracking data analytics, and so much more. It’s a huge step forward in a nursing career and can be incredibly awarding.
Start Checking Off the Basics
Now that you’ve got your career goals mapped out and a plan on how to achieve them, it’s time to focus on your physical and mental health. Staying in top condition will ensure that you’re able to tackle this big step forward and still offer your absolute best both at work and at home. It’s all about getting back to the basics of self-care.
What are the basics you ask? They are simple:
Sure it may sound overly-simplified the basics are important for a reason. They are the building blocks to sound mental and physical health. When you’re healthy you automatically have better focus, more energy, and you tend to have a more positive outlook in general. All of this will spill over into your nursing career and affect it in a positive way as well.
Don’t Let Set-Backs Derail You
Even with all the best intentions and planning, it’s perfectly normal to encounter setbacks along the way. Just because you know the direction you want to head in doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing. It’s all about how you react to the challenges and overcome them. You don’t want to let these setbacks derail you or your goals. Sure it’s okay to feel upset in the moment, and even stew a little, but then it’s time to move on and move forward.
It may be that during these tough times you need to re-examine your goals and the timeline you initially put forth. Little tweaks and changes aren’t a big deal. You can still reach your goal; it may just require a different path.
A Highly Rewarding Career Awaits
If you enjoy working in the healthcare industry but you want to advance your nursing career and step into a more challenging and senior role, having a plan will be imperative to your success. It’s also about your mindset, setting realistic goals, and not being afraid to fail once in a while.