Improving your skills and continuously developing into a better professional is a very important aspect of our working life – it’s how we grow as individuals. To feed the fire of your own professional development and remain competitive in an ever-changing field, there are many important factors you have to stay on top. As technology advances and begins to fulfil some of the duties that nurses have traditionally performed, you can only benefit by making yourself indispensable. Nursing is a science, but it is also an art for those who are passionate about it, one that they try to perfect as they progress through their career.

The nursing profession offers nurses countless opportunities to make an in-depth impact on the lives of others. Dedicated nurses have a positive influence on the wellbeing of individual patients as well as on the success of our national healthcare system as a whole. At the point where knowledge, skill, talent, passion, accountability, care and compassion all meet you’ll find a nurse who’s living to be the very best version of his or her self as they can.

If you’re reading this article you already have the drive to be a leader in your field – and that’s half the battle. As you go through your career, keep these few things in mind to keep that fire alive. 

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Have a Vision for Your Nursing Career

One of the best ways to improve and be a better nurse is to have a clear plan for your career. At certain points throughout your nursing career, you may find yourself working in an environment that isn’t very competitive, with few opportunities for promotions, and sometimes that can make individuals feel ‘comfortable’ and lose focus on their progression. Having a plan will help you imagine the opportunities, new skills and new workplaces that you want to explore, keeping you always on your toes and learning.

Your plan may have larger goals, such as transferring to a different facility, trying out a new specialty or even travel nursing, but if you want to stay and work in one role consistently that is perfectly okay – there are ways for you to progress as well! Regardless of your plan, keep these few things in mind when setting your goals.

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Getting certified:  One of the most surefire ways to open the door to new opportunities in nursing is to receive a new certification. If you’re already certified in your primary area of interest, consider branching out and adding more certifications to the ones you already have. This will add to your knowledge base and invigorate you professionally. Specialty certification in particular will help you gain access to new information and trends that will boost both your resume and your nursing knowledge.

Attend conferences: Attending nursing conferences is another great way to improve your nursing career and help you acquire new information, and is fairly low commitment. By dedicating just a few days each year to conferences, you will be able to more easily identify which skills you currently lack and how you can gain them. This is particularly important if you studied nursing over a decade ago, as the medical field grows and changes at such a fast pace. If you’re passionate about travel, international nursing conferences also provide opportunities for nurses to meet, mingle and learn from other professionals around the world. Spend a weekend at a conference and you may come home with new dreams and goals for your career, as well as the tools to make them a reality.

Take classes outside of nursing:  Taking courses that are not nursing related can expand the way you think and help your mind become more innovative. Some nurses choose to pursue management, technology or leadership courses to dive into other interests and see how they may fit within the nursing field, broadening their horizons while adding even more quality content to their resume.

Follow a tech blog: As technology constantly improves, it is crucial for nurses to stay well versed with the latest technology that effects their own workplace while also staying on top of new trends within their field. To be at the forefront of the nursing profession, stay in the loop with research and development by following a tech blog that is dedicated to the medical field.

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If you feel tired, trained or bored at work, a small change is likely not enough of a challenge to reawaken your passion for what you do, and it may be time for you to make a bigger change. If you still love working as a nurse but are unsure what kind of environment or specialty you want to transition to, travel nursing can help you try out a variety of opportunities nationwide. With paid travel, housing provided and higher-than-average wages, there is no loss to giving it a try – it may be exactly what you’re looking for.

“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

– Philip Stanhope