Nursing is a vocation more than it is a profession. Those who get into nursing need to have a passion for caring, an interest in learning, and a commitment to see things through, even when they’re hard. Nurses are well-respected figures in society for this very reason, and it is their hard work that has propped up the entire healthcare industry.
Just because there is the expectation of hard work in stressful environments, however, does not mean that is the end of your options. Nursing, despite common belief, is a very flexible career option. You can do a lot with a background in nursing.
Knowing your options is just the start. There are many ways to revamp your career and take it into an exciting new direction that you find financially rewarding, emotionally fulfilling, and fundamentally supportive.
Looking to the next step is particularly important as you get older. Priorities change, and with them, everything else. Having kids changes how much time and energy you must spend at work or on your career. Getting older changes what you want to do and how much effort you put in.
Changes to your health, mental illness, environmental changes, and economic changes, and all of these will impact what you need out of your career and what next step you should take.
One thing is certain – if you are fed up, irritated, bored, or just plain ready to move on, then you should. Yes, moving forwards or even into a new field or unit isn’t as straightforward as other career options, but the restrictions make it relatively straightforward. It will take more time.
How You Can Advance or Shake Up Your Nursing Career
There are many ways you can advance or just shake up your nursing career, so that you get more enjoyment, and even higher wages out of the deal. You don’t and shouldn’t stay in the same position for years on end without change.
Not only does this put you at a wage disadvantage, but since the best way to earn a higher income is to continually change positions so you can renegotiate your base salary, it can also be bad for your mental health.
We need to feel like we’re constantly evolving and doing more. Progress is the secret to humanity’s success. Just because we crave advancement, however, doesn’t mean that we necessarily need to do something more difficult or senior.
What it does mean, however, is that you consistently evaluate what you need out of your career, whether your current situation offers that, and what you can do to improve it.
If you aren’t sure of what you can do to advance or revamp your nursing career, consider these top ideas:
1- Change Units
One of the easiest ways to shake up your career is to change units. You may not have been a good fit in your current role and would have had a better time somewhere else. Not only can this help you find a role that fits your pace better, but it’s also a great learning tool.
It’s hard to predict what we want out of our careers until we’re faced with different options first-hand. By working in different environments, you’ll learn more about yourself, improve your work experience, broaden your network, and increase your chances of finding the right role for you.
2- Change Work Environments
Busy hospitals are usually busy from department to department. If the pacing isn’t right for you, then switching up units isn’t going to be enough.
Rather, you’ll want to try to find a role in a different work environment entirely. This could be a smaller or more remote hospital. It could be in a family clinic.
Keep in mind that the opposite can also be true. If you find yourself burned out because of boredom, then moving into something more challenging can help keep you engaged.
3- Go Private
Working with private clients means you can offer the full extent of your care. Finding and getting hired is, of course, a challenge. You’ll essentially have clients and patients, and work as both a nurse and a carer.
Don’t just think that working in a private capacity means caring for wealthy seniors. You can also work privately for an agency, or on the health and safety team on practically any project.
Working privately can mean providing emergency care if a movie stunt goes wrong or providing preventative care for a research team in a remote location.
These roles, however, are rare. They aren’t a common option and, therefore, the competition when trying to get one will be high.
Like all careers, however, once you get your foot in the door, your network will help you secure more work, allowing you to take up this type of career full-time.
Another great way to improve your career and say goodbye to issues like burnout our boredom is to advance.
Advancing your credentials opens your options across the board. Not only can advancing help position you into more unique roles, but it may also be a legal requirement for your career goals.
If you wanted to work as a Family Nurse Practitioner, for example, you simply won’t be able to until you earn an MSN-FNP.
If you are already advanced as a nurse and are looking to slow down your career, consider becoming a nurse educator.
This is a great role for those who want to move away from patient care and hospital politics. Your focus will be on training the next generation of students, either online, in-person, or in a hands-on training capacity.
6- Start Your Own Business
Nurses can start their own businesses. Your specialist skills and knowledge mean you can get started with any number of business opportunities, from a clinic to a product-based operation. Regardless of which business option you go with, remember that there are many rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow.
In some states, for example, you will be able to start up and manage your own clinic. In others, you’d need to have a physician on board to either sign off on everything that you do, or you’d have to transition entirely into management itself.
As for starting up a product or service-based business, keep in mind that there will be limitations in terms of what you can recommend as a registered nurse practitioner. The last thing you want is for your newly founded business to be interrupted by legal issues.
7- Travel Nursing
A travel nurse is, essentially, a freelance nurse that takes up work on an ad hoc basis. Considering how many states and hospitals have shortages every single day, this is a good gig. Working as a travel nurse typically pays more per day than what a salaried nurse will receive.
The downside is, of course, that you don’t have key benefits like a retirement plan or paid vacation off. Instead, you’ll have to manage all these considerations and be prepared to simply not earn money when you take time off.
While not a perfect system, it does work very well for many, and since you meet so many people, it’s great for networking.
8- Other Ways to Use Your Nursing Experience
You could also work in research either in a researcher capacity or a caring role. You could work in policymaking and advocate for better pay or resources, so that nurses and their patients are better cared for. There are so many ways that you can use your nursing experience to make a difference and get a change of pace in your career.
How to Make These Advancements
So, how do you go from point A to point B? In some cases, it’s as straightforward as earning a degree, passing the exam, and then applying for new jobs. In others, it’s incredibly difficult and with no guarantee that you’ll find work.
Even this second option, however, isn’t impossible. It’s like job hunting in most career paths. So long as you have a stable situation while you keep your eye out for new opportunities, you’ll be making progress. If you need more flexibility, you can even switch from working as a salaried nurse to a freelance nurse.
Applying for jobs, of course, isn’t enough. If you want to increase your chances of getting that next big dream job, you’ll want to use these tips:
1- Earn a Degree or Certificate
The best way to make big changes in any nursing career is to advance your credentials. Unlike other careers, making big changes without a license is impossible.
To earn that license, you need to graduate from an accredited program and then pass the state exam. This applies to those making the switch from RN to APRN, for example. It’s also key if you want to change tracks of focusses later.
If you already have a degree, however, know you can cut some corners to earn that next credential faster. This option starts with the BSN.
The ABSN is available to those who already have a degree under their belt. So long as you have the necessary prerequisites or are on your way to earning them before the program starts, you’ll be in the clear.
ABSNs are faster to complete and designed to help those transition to nurse as fast as possible.
While the MSN doesn’t offer the same accelerated track for those with a non-nursing master, there are options if you already have that MSN.
If you previously focussed on oncology, for example, you could boost your career by expanding your specialization to gerontology.
Those who focus on pediatrics or mental health can get started on opening their very own family clinic by clicking here to apply to the post-master’s FNP online program.
Both options let you skip the courses you have already completed. Accelerating your efforts takes less time, less cost, and is so much faster.
2- Start Networking
Regardless of what you want to do or where you want to go, you need a strong network. Often, the most exciting job roles will be given internally. This is because those in charge want the known quantity over the unknown.
They already know and like the person that they have hired internally and are also aware of what they can do. Hiring someone they know nothing about is a risk in comparison.
That’s why it’s important to know people and make your intentions known. This is how you’ll gain access to unique opportunities that can help you with your career goals. It’s also how you’ll get recommended for work outright.
3- Join an Agency or Organization
So, how do you start building that network? Outside of keeping in good contact with the people you work with and previously worked with, you can start by joining an organization or even an agency.
Organizations can be easy to get involved in since their membership is usually broader. Agencies, on the other hand, are businesses. If you’re a travel nurse or are looking to work on the health and safety team of a movie set, then an agency is going to be your best bet.
If you become a familiar face to those in production, they may call you back personally. Once you get in, it’s far easier, so use your membership to help you get your name, face, and expertise out there.
4- Start Building Your Personal Brand
If you want to improve your chances of getting a rare or unique job, you need to have a thriving personal brand. You can do this by starting up social media channels and a website.
Not only will this help you get important health information out there, but it will also help you gain the right kind of attention from potential employers.
You get to showcase your experience, charisma, and more when you create an informative content strategy. Many doctors, dentists, and even therapists do this to help reach out to the general public and, as a result, boost their efforts at getting that dream job.