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    Nursing Career Goals and Actionable Strategies

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    About the author

    Dr. Mary Williams, RN, DC

    Dr. Mary Williams, R.N., D.C is a Doctor of Chiropractic with an extensive background as a Registered Nurse and experienced Core Instructor for the American Heart Association. She has over 30 years of hands-on medical and instructional experience.

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    Nursing is a career with lots of upward mobility and plenty of choices with regard to your career progression. But it can be a challenge to set yourself apart with so many options. Here’s a look at actionable strategies you can take to differentiate yourself and advance your career in the field of nursing.

    Consider what inspires you

    What inspired you to become a nurse in the first place? Consider what parts of the field excite you most—whether that’s working with kids or the elderly, educating nursing teams, or a range of other areas of the field.

    Think about what parts of your job are the most fulfilling—and what career moves could help ensure you get to do that as a bigger part of your job. This may include earning more certifications or credentials, making a move to a different hospital or department, or developing new skills.

    From there, break your objective down into small, achievable goals you can tackle around your work and family schedule. Goals should be specific, attainable, realistic, and come with a deadline—for instance, deciding to renew your BLS certification online within the next three months.

    Consider advanced degrees

    Depending on where you start, there are many different options for more advanced nursing degrees that may open up new career paths for you. Some examples include:

    LPN Certificate. A Licensed Practical Nurse certificate generally takes 12-18 months to complete and requires you to pass the NCLEX-PN exam. It’s generally considered a step up from a CNA certification, and you can specialize through additional certifications.

    Registered Nurse (RN). This is a two-year degree program. All you need to enroll is a high school degree, which makes it a great entry into the field. It’s generally a step up in terms of responsibility from LPNs and CNAs.

    Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is a four-year degree program that can be earned through a few different paths. Traditionally, you can it straight out of high school with no hands on experience. You can also take an LPN-to BSN or RN-to-BSN path.

    Master of Science in Nursing. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) takes an additional two years after earning your BSN. These degrees often involve study in a specialized area, and prepare you for research and leadership positions such as ARPN roles. They generally require a certain amount of clinical experience as well as a BSN or RN.

    A PhD Degree. This is a terminal degree that may be focused on research or practice, and may require an MSN to enroll. This program can take about two to five years to complete, depending on your focus.

    The three general types of PhD programs for nursing include a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) or Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (PhD), both of which are research-based, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which is more focused on leadership in clinical settings.

    Earn or renew your BLS certification online

    A BLS certification is a requirement for nurses throughout the country, with renewal every two years. Your BLS certification hones your skills in CPR for single- and multi-rescuer situations, chain of survival, AED use, and more.

    Earning your basic life support certification online can be a great choice if you’re working full time. You can also refresh your skills with online BLS renewal, or add additional credentials to your skillset such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).

    BLS training online is a great option for those working full-time in a nursing position, as it allows you to fit training around a demanding work schedule and earn your certification or renewal in less time.

    No matter your interest in the nursing field, there’s a career path for you—that may involve specialized certification, an advanced degree, or simply adding new skills to your repertoire. Consider what you enjoy most about your job, set concrete goals, and hopefully you should be able to define and accomplish the next steps.


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