Working as a nurse can be very rewarding, and when you do finally become a registered nurse after all of your hard work and studying, this can be a huge relief and provide a fantastic sense of achievement.
You may even be excited to get stuck into your first professional nursing role and work in this position for a few years.
Although you might not want to take on anything too challenging immediately and give yourself time to build more professional experience, eventually, you may find yourself asking what’s next for your nursing career.
Luckily, there are numerous paths in the nursing field to choose from, so finding a role that you can get excited about shouldn’t be too hard to find.
However, it is important to give this some careful thought first to ensure that you’re making the right decision for yourself. Below are a few useful tips to help you decide which path would be the best fit for you in your nursing career.
1. What Parts of Your Job Do You Like Most?
Even if you are working in your dream job, there will still be certain aspects to it that you won’t love. This is true for everyone, but it is worth keeping this in mind when you are trying to work out a future career path.
While you will still find things that you don’t enjoy about your future roles, understanding what you don’t like now can help you reduce this further down the line.
For example, if you have been working for a few years as a nurse, and you have decided that you don’t love working directly with patients, then you might want to pursue a role that enables you to work more often behind the scenes, such as moving into government sector or educational roles.
Equally, thinking about the aspects of your nursing job that you do love can also allow you to find roles that incorporate these things more into your daily responsibilities.
If you’re not sure what you like and dislike, try writing out a list to help you think this through in more depth, and to help you identify what you want and need from future roles.
2. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your nursing career is beneficial not only to help you make a decision but to improve your overall performance at work.
Seeing where your strengths are can help you figure out which nursing roles you might be best suited for, as these skills are likely where you naturally thrive.
However, acknowledging your weaknesses can also help you address some issues that could be holding you back from opportunities that you are interested in, too.
Working on making these improvements can help you professionally as it will not only reinforce your skillset but also showcases your commitment to your career and willingness to learn.
These are both excellent qualities to have if you do intend to move up the career ladder, no matter what your profession.
3. Shadow Other Healthcare Professionals
If you are interested in a few different roles in nursing, but can’t quite decide which path to pursue, then asking to shadow a healthcare professional working in this field could help you make up your mind.
Shadowing opportunities are great ways for you to get more insight into what to expect from certain roles, and this is important if you are going to commit to a specific career path.
You can also ask questions about how the person you’re shadowing feels about their daily responsibilities, how they got into the position they work in, and whether or not they can offer any tips or advice based on their experiences.
If you work in a healthcare environment where you can take a day or two shadowing in another department, speak to the management teams about organizing this for you.
Alternatively, use forums or social media platforms like LinkedIn and connect with healthcare professionals to see if they might be willing for you to come to their place of work for this opportunity.
4. Are You Prepared to Return to Education?
Not all roles in nursing will require you to get a higher degree, but there are a lot of positions that will need this. For example, if you wanted to take on more responsibility as a nurse practitioner, you might need to get a master’s degree in this field.
You can always look at more flexible approaches to your studies if this is easier, like courses offered at the Texas Woman’s University online.
It is important to think about whether you do want to commit to further study, however, as this can create added pressure while you are working and trying to complete another qualification.
If this isn’t something you feel ready for at this time, or simply aren’t interested in at all, then you might want to look at roles in nursing that won’t ask this of you.
5. How Do You Want Your Career to Fit into Your Life?
Another very important question to ask yourself is how you want your career to fit into your life. Nursing can be incredibly demanding as a career, and while a lot of people thrive with this kind of challenge, you do still need to consider how your work is affecting other areas of your life as well.
For example, if you aren’t interested in working unsociable hours for the foreseeable future, you might want to focus on roles that follow a more traditional 9-5 working pattern, rather than at weekends and night shifts.
If you are interested in traveling the world, then a career path that can offer you this opportunity might be a perfect fit. Think about what else you want from life so that you can choose a career path in nursing that can fit in with this.
If you are trying to figure out what you should do next in your nursing career, consider the points above and use them to help you determine the best path to follow.
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