Before starting a career as a nurse we have an idea of what we think nursing is, we go on to study with formal education to learn the work that forms this professional role. Eventually once all of our studying has finished and as new nurses we step into our first jobs, with time our careers grow
As we spend more time gaining more experience in our careers we grow on a journey that takes us from starting as beginners onto a path that leads us to become more advanced nurses, then eventually we can choose to reach the level of being experts. Sometimes we don’t even realise how much this journey through years of work as nurses affects us on a personal level as individuals as well.
Because this role is so personal it allows for some self discovery and after some time you may have reflected on what is important to you in your career. With all the variety of opportunities that are available to our profession they are so many different job roles that we can move into and that allows us to define our own careers.
What you want to achieve next in your career might depend on the stage you are at, a new nurse who has just started working in healthcare will go through a steep learning curve, actually it’s amazing to watch them because you see their confidence growing and they start understanding the work on a deeper level.
Whilst gaining so much experience and ‘finding their feet’ with how they work, I’m sure a few new nurses will know what area of nursing they would like to work in straight away. Yet for anyone like me it took a while to work out what area of nursing I wanted to work in at the start, its like water to a fish – the fish isn’t aware of the water at the start and that’s ok.
Established nurses who have worked for some years might be looking for a complete change in their work possibly to challenge themselves in a new way with further education or just for a different job role altogether.
With experience a nurse may be settled in one workplace by being in that role for a long time and having gained heaps of experience, the job may now be quite automatic and not really stimulating. To become more technically accomplished further education is one way to grow in a career that is enriching for you.
Another nurse may want to change workplace altogether and this can be for a few reasons maybe they have experienced an area of work that they liked in the past. Or they have seen a new role that has grabbed their attention as nursing is changing constantly and this may be something they would like to try to do more of.
As we grow as nurses our values can change and that can be not just our core values it can be our career values too, some example are- innovation, autonomy, collaboration, recognition, creativity, growth etc. Knowing what is important to you will allow you to find a role or organisation that is the right match for you.
Sometimes a person may want to change a job completely as a ‘recalibration’, this can be as a person gradually ‘drifts off course’ at work and may feel disengaged. Eventually this may lead to burn out, it can be because the role isn’t meaningful anymore and feelings of apprehension may have crept in. This is when it’s important to take the next step especially when you want to take on a new job role that gives a fresh point of view whilst seeking for a fulfilling career.
At work we all have things we do well and we possess our own individual strengths as well, I think as nurses sometimes it’s so easy to sell ourselves short, we forget in the daily routine how much we do as these skills are so ingrained in us, it’s like second nature.
These skills are transferable to basically any new job or career, some examples of skills we have as nurses are- communication, negotiation, decision making, technologically savvy, education & teaching, delegation, awareness of safety, risk management, critical thinking, time management- we ace that!!, etc.
When I think of risk management- medication checks is something we do automatically all the time and negotiation is something we use with confused patients especially when we are trying to keep them safe 👍😄
What takes a nurse from day one to becoming more experienced is a very personal journey and at each stage there are so many career opportunities to explore, we can change our job titles easily. With all of this the great thing about nursing is that you can navigate your own path and probably a question to ask ourselves to lead us to a fulfilling career is- What would you like to do more of as a nurse?
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