5 Tips to Help Nurses Succeed

A career in nursing is much like a rollercoaster ride - great reward coupled with moments of fear and uncertainty. Times of stress interspersed with genuine fulfillment. There is a constant flow of highs and lows fueled by a passion for making a difference in people's lives.

Being successful in a nursing career and enjoying the journey along the way is the goal of nurses everywhere, whether they are a new Director of Nursing in a skilled nursing facility, a travel nurse embarking on a 10th assignment, or a newly licensed registered nurse fresh out of college. At every stage, nurses can take steps to aid their success in reaching their short-term and long-term career goals.

Ask questions
Whether it's your first day on the job or you have two decades of experience under your belt, a student mentality is crucial. Be a sponge! If you're unsure about something, chances are, someone else is feeling the same way. Get clarification, whether it's one-on-one or during a team huddle. Being intentional about inquiring can sharpen critical thinking skills, especially when your team is open to discussing "What if..." scenario. Remember, requesting clarification is always appropriate and beneficial. We learn best when we allow ourselves to dig deeper.

Ask for help
Even the sharpest veteran nurses sometimes need assistance - and that's okay. The health and safety of patients is dependent upon nurses and other direct care workers being on their A-game at all times. And that can mean asking for help in any number of scenarios.

Recognizing the need for assistance and asking for it does not indicate weakness. Instead, it demonstrates the most profound concern for patients and a desire for optimal care. Requesting support can also help with preventing nurse burnout. 

If you'd like some free expert advice from fellow clinicians, see what 30 nurse leaders shared as their best pieces of career advice.

Identify a mentor
Nurses can benefit from connecting with a mentor at any stage in their career. New RNs have never been new RNs before. A new Director of Nursing (DON) with a dozen years of bedside experience is still a new DON. Likewise, an experienced travel nurse branching out into a new speciality will be a new (whatever specialty) travel nurse.

If a mentorship program exists in your organization, sign up. If not, keep eyes and ears tuned for those whose professional abilities you admire and with whom you might "click" with. A mentoring relationship doesn't have to derive from a formal, organization-sponsored program.

Strengthen organizational skills
Strive to intentionally develop these skills. Why? Because becoming more organized can produce a plethora of benefits with both workplace responsibilities and the ongoing challenge to create an ideal work/life balance. Organization leads to less time spent searching for things, less stress caused by too many loose ends, and more time to focus on growth and success.

Seek professional development opportunities
With the rapid pace of medical advancements and technology, nurses should consider making career development a top priority. Nurses can sharpen their skills at all points in their career through specialized certifications, workshops, conferences, CEU courses, and seminars. 

In addition, online resources are readily available (and typically free). If you haven't yet, research clinical podcasts, webinars, professional associations, and publications. A focus on developing skills and knowledge will enable nurses to better care for patients while at the same time openings doors to new and exciting job opportunities. Never underestimate the power of networking!

Utilize these five strategies to give your nursing career a boost toward success.


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