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How To Tell If You’re Ready To Advance In Your Nursing Career

There is a very important point to note no matter what career you might have or expect to have: you don’t have to reach the ‘top’. Although it’s good to strive towards something and have goals in mind, you can stop at any level you want to.

In fact, if you prefer not to, you don’t have to move forward at all. The point is, the choice will be yours, and you have to do what you’re happy with and what will fulfill you, whatever that might be.

With that said, if you do have ambitions and want to progress, it can sometimes be hard to know when you’re ready to do so. Is it when you start to feel restless? When you have the right experience? Or is it something else?

In some careers, it’s not always easy to tell, but there are some signs to look out for if you are a nurse. When you are aware of what they are and what you need to know, you’ll be in a much more confident frame of mind and the right place to take the next step in your career. Read on to find out more.

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You Have A Clear Vision

This point is important even if you aren’t a nurse and work in something entirely unrelated, but as a nurse, it’s absolutely vital; you must have a clear vision of where your career is going before you’ll be ready to take any further steps. The reason for this is because there is so much choice when it comes to nursing.

There are dozens of specialisms to consider, many different departments, even lots of places to work (not just in hospitals). If you don’t know what you want from your career, you won’t be ready to move forward with it, as you won’t know what courses to take or what experience you need to gain specifically. Making any kind of decision about your future career will be impossible if you don’t know what that future career looks like.

The best thing you can do if you are in this situation is to write a vision statement. This means writing down where you can see yourself in a year, three years, or five years’ time. Once you do this, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you want your nursing career to look like and you’ll be able to move forward, or you’ll find it hard to envision anything, and you’ll know you’re not quite ready for the next step.

If the latter is your reality, don’t worry; keep coming back to your vision statement every few months until you can see your future more clearly, at which point you will have become ready to proceed. 

You Aim High

It’s true that no matter what stage of your nursing career you find yourself in, you’ll want to do as much and as well as you can. However, when you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll really start to aim high and make sure you do everything that’s required of you.

That might be going back to school to get additional qualifications because you know you’re ready to do that, or perhaps you decide to do your own learning to ensure you are up to date with everything you need to know about. When you’re aiming high, you’ll take note of any areas in which you might be lacking knowledge, and you’ll take steps to fill those knowledge gaps.

To put it another way, when you find that you are always looking for ways to improve and you never feel quite satisfied that you know enough, it’s highly likely that you are ready to take the next step, whatever that step will be (and your vision statement will help you determine that).

It might feel a little overwhelming to come to this conclusion, but with good planning and plenty of advice when you need it, you can start the next stage of your nursing career journey.

You Believe In Yourself

Another good sign that you can begin the process of advancing your nursing career is that you believe you can do it. If you’re still lacking confidence in your own abilities and knowledge, then it’s going to be hard to add more knowledge to the mix. It’s going to be hard for you to work up the courage to move on.

Don’t worry if this is the case; many people lack confidence in what they can do. The important thing to remember is that you can gain confidence by gaining experience and by asking questions. In fact, asking questions, whether you ask your colleagues, superiors, or you research things online, is a crucial part of moving forward and becoming more confident in what you can do and why you’re doing it.

Another important thing to note about this aspect of being ready to move forward is that you still need to put additional work in. Simply believing that you can do something and having confidence is only the first step; having the knowledge and expertise to back it all up is just as important.

You Take The Initiative

Think about how you go about your daily life and work. Do you wait for others to tell you what to do, or do you take the initiative and do what needs to be done, perhaps even helping others to understand what they need to do? If the latter is something that you know you do, then it could be you’re ready to take the next step in your nursing career, whatever that step might be.

A good nurse, one who can move forward and become a leader or specialist, will always be able to take the initiative. This comes from confidence, as mentioned above, but also from an in-depth knowledge of their work and a love of what they do.

When you are in the position where you often take the initiative and do things of your own accord, it could well be time to investigate what you need to do to take the next step, whether that means obtaining new qualifications or searching for a new job, for example.

Of course, you need to think carefully about the outcome of your ideas and actions. Taking the initiative is a good start, but it’s not enough – the outcome has to be a positive one. If you rush in because you think you know what to do but the result is not what you had expected or hoped for, then you may well have the confidence needed, but you might not have the knowledge.

These things have to come together in order to put you in the right place to advance your career. At this stage, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself and if you are lacking in some way, it’s vital to obtain the knowledge you need. Then, when you take the initiative, you can be surer of better outcomes.

You Stay Focused

Remaining focused is something that can often be hard to do. There is so much happening and thanks to technology, we are connected to it all 24 hours a day. Sometimes this can mean that we become distracted, and that can pull focus away from our careers and other life goals – there is just so much going on around us.

If you find that you keep getting distracted for any reason and that you can’t fully focus on your own career plans, then the truth is that you’re not ready to advance in your nursing career. In order to be a successful nurse, you must be able to completely commit to your studies and your work, and if you find you keep getting distracted, then you won’t be able to do that at all.

Of course, staying highly focused is not entirely positive either. If you are too focused on your career, you’ll miss out on other important things in life, and you might even suffer from burnout. This happens when you become exhausted, and you work too hard – it can lead to stress and depression as well as physical problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also cause people to fall out of love with their careers, meaning all the hard work and effort put in so far will be for nothing.

To prevent this from happening, it’s important that nurses take time out. They need to have a good work-life balance, even if this might seem to be a hard thing to do, in order to be more able to focus. It might seem strange that you have to take time away from work to be more focused on it, but it’s true; you’ll be much more productive, healthier, happier, and more successful if you remember this.

Nursing is not an easy career, but it is a hugely rewarding one. Once you know that you’re ready to advance, there will be many different routes you can follow.

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