How to Build a Career in Nursing

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing careers in the world and currently provides for some of the best-paid jobs in the country. In the USA, the nursing field has never been more vibrant and exciting than it is at the moment. This growth trend is likely to continue, and this article will provide some details as to how you too can build a career in nursing and healthcare.

Building a career should be seen as a process and a journey rather than a destination, and nursing at the moment will provide you with a journey filled with satisfaction and joy. It is still one of the most valued professions in the world, and there is no reason for this to change, thus providing you with a rewarding sustainable career.

Choose a sector or specialty

The nursing sector is wide and varied, and the number of distinct sectors within nursing means that you need to choose appropriately. Across the wide range of advice and online tips, finding a specialty is generally presented as something that you would do at the end of the study and education process. However, it has been proven that many in nursing felt that having an idea of the specialty they would like to do at the beginning of their studies would have gone a long way to making for a more informed and directed process. You are then able to work towards a specific goal. Elderly care, family nursing, emergency, and disaster nursing are but a few of these said sectors and variants of the nursing career that are available.

Some would argue that you could just begin with the basic undergraduate degree and work your way up from there, but it is recommended that you start by researching the sector and decide where it is you would like to end up. Then work towards this end goal by planning your studies and building towards this end goal.

Choose a school

In choosing a nursing school, college, or university based on what you would like to study and the sector you would like to work in, you will have set the tone for the first part of your transition into nursing. There are, however, a number of other considerations that you need to make because as the demand for nurses increases, so too does the number of colleges and institutions of higher learning increase in proliferation. So being able to make the right choices as to where you study is one of the main choices you will have to make in this entire process.

Consider whether you want to study online, and know the course schedule and class sizes. In the US, accreditation can be regional or national, and as such, it would also help if you had some idea of where you’d like to work.

Plan your studies

To become a registered practicing nurse of any description and in any state, you would need to have a formal educational qualification. Most nurses in the country hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a bachelor of science (BSN) in nursing with a state-specific registration as a registered nurse (RN). This will take a minimum of 3-4 years but will provide for a great number of opportunities and higher-paying job options than any of the associate nursing programs that are positioned below the BSN.

Thus, there is an almost set process to become a nurse, a family nurse practitioner, and a registered nurse. The process has been done by many others, and as such, can simply be researched online. You can also plan to discuss your selected degree route with the educational institution that you have chosen and then plan in detail in terms of the actual credits that you will take to make up the required amount to gain the qualification chosen.

There are also routes to change a career or formalize a career in care or for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. The highly-rated online Accelerated BSN program is an example that can be taken to make a move into nursing for more mature students and will provide a similar entrance and career gateway.

Plan your placement

To finalize and complete your nursing studies, you will need to have completed a practical placement. It makes sense to gain as broad an experience as possible in this process to be able to then make cogent decisions as to where you would like to eventually work. If there is a choice, look to choose institutions that have specific nursing or the reputation for providing high level training. The clinical placement services are pretty much essential if you are to gain all the required nursing skills. Professional training providers include the clinical placement as part of the overall course, and this is something that any student nurses take for granted only to complete the theoretical training and find that they need to secure a clinical placement on their own. This is where you will be required to practice what you have learned on real patients under the supervision of a registered and qualified experienced nurse.

Upon registration for your specific course, ensure that you ask as to the end of course placement and who will need to arrange this. A placement coordinator is thus a key contact to look out for and get in touch with as soon as you can to allow you to plan well in advance.

Licensing and registration

The licensing or registration process as a nurse can only be done once you have completed your studies and placement. Most reputable educational institutions will advise you as to the best place to write the national nursing licensure examination. Plan in advance and ensure that you have selected the appropriate examination for the geographic area that you want to practice or work in. The various exams and their uses are mentioned below, and you must be familiar with these for your specific state.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): This is a state competency exam designed for those learners who want to work as nursing assistants. It is a role for those who want entry into nursing but with limited responsibilities.

National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN): Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) must write this exam. There are more responsibilities reflected than the CNA.

National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN): Registered nurses (RNs) will need to write and pass this examination in order to practice. This would be the most in-depth examination for entrance to the practicing field of nursing.

These exams are essential for you to be able to practice as a registered and licensed health care provider, carer provider, or nurse. They should not be rushed, and it is advised to ensure that from the registration of your course, final examinations are discussed. As aforementioned, the top nursing schools in the land offer support and advice for these exams and dedicate themselves to getting you through to the job hunt stage.

Find a job to develop into a career

Once qualified and licensed, it is time to find gainful and meaningful employment. It will not be difficult to find work in nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has made it clear that the demand for nurses will be ongoing and constant for the medium to long term, and as such, there will be a wide range of work available. In a time and context such as this, it will be imperative not to take the first job that you are offered.

Have some set criteria as to what you are looking for, determine what you would like to earn, where you want to work, and the skills you would like to learn in this early career phase, and then look for these. You can either go through a healthcare and nursing recruitment agency or company or look for the work yourself. Keep an open mind, and the range and variety of job options will surprise you. Attend as many interviews as you can as part of this research, and once decided, begin to turn the job into a career from day one.

Be open to continuous improvement and lifelong learning

Nursing, as aforementioned, should be regarded as one of the foundations of a great many opportunities in healthcare. This is the premise from which you need to depart if you are to develop a cogent career path. Although there are some set career pathways, and the undergraduate qualification is just the start, unless you are open to the development opportunities and take them, you could simply remain at this level for your entire career. The choice is yours, and it will depend on what it is you want from the career you are building.

If you aim to move up the career ladder and develop as you go, then the only way to achieve this is to keep your skills upgraded and updated. Continuous development and ongoing learning entail that you are prepared to take on the small course available as well as any more longer-term development options and that this is something that you do on an ongoing basis.

This will require commitment and dedication from the nurse as well as from the organization itself. So, it will pay to be sure that the organization you work for has a developmental culture and is prepared to spend both time and money on your personal and professional development. There will be many aspects of this development from formal courses, MOOCs, social learning, and self-directed learning. This type of ongoing development is essential in nursing and healthcare as there are constant developments around medicine, disease, and sickness that need to be improved and will affect the care given by nurses.

Be flexible

Starting out as a registered nurse in the states has been, for many, just the beginning of the most rewarding and long-term career that there is. There is, however, a definite need for flexibility, as there is opportunity in terms of what you do, where you do it, and who you provide these nursing and care activities for. Understanding this flexibility and the possibility to move around the world and perhaps register to provide disaster care and care in remote areas is one of the ways to build a genuine career in nursing.

Exhibit the essential workplace traits for nurses

There has been a great deal of debate in nursing circles as to the need for nurses who actually want to be nurses, rather than employing those who are simply after a job. It is a sector that needs a certain level of care, and as such, there are various behaviors or attitudes that are looked for in the professional and will definitely be part of any discussion as to employment or development in a nursing role:

  • Honesty
  • Ethics
  • Integrity
  • Hard-working
  • Dedication and commitment

Yes, these may be accepted as general requirements in the workplace, but as nurses work closely with those who may have medical issues and challenges, it is of the utmost importance that they are trustworthy and honest. Exhibiting these behaviors and traits on an ongoing basis is a surefire way to get noticed.

Final remarks

It is accepted that nursing is one of the most sustainable careers that there is. This article has provided a clear step-by-step means of entry and development in the nursing sector. Once you have managed entry to the profession, you will be able to develop and grow in an environment that provides for some of the best paying, most rewarding work in the US and abroad. The biggest mistake to make, however, will be to rush into nursing without taking the time to ensure that it is a career that you have thought through, and you are determined that caring for others, dealing with health emergencies, and saving lives is something that you will be able to handle. If you have done the research and reading, and it is a career you are interested in, then don’t hesitate – nursing will provide you with one of the most rewarding careers there is.

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