Tips to Advance your Nursing Career

A nursing career can be extremely rewarding in many ways. Your skill and compassion, can make a positive impact on the everyday lives of your patients. This in turn, fills you with satisfaction.

At some point in time, you may yearn to advance your career. It doesn’t matter where you stand currently as a nurse, you will always have the chance to move up to a new level.

Anyone who is ambitious and dedicated enough to study hard to improve their skills, will likely climb the career ladder and achieve their goal. It will certainly require planning to make your move. If you’re serious about promotion, read on, to discover the best ways of advancing your career in nursing.

Create a plan

If you already know what you’re aiming for, it will be easier for you to achieve it. You should consider the areas of interest that most appeal to you and the kind of role you’d like to play. For example, you might fancy yourself as a Registered Nurse, or you might be looking to increase your responsibility and knowledge, by becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse. If you like to take the helm, the leadership of Nurse Manager, might be perfect for you as you will be supervising nurses in patient care. If you prefer teaching, becoming a nurse educator, might suit you best.

Whichever path you end up choosing, it is imperative that you envisage how it can be achieved. Which degree will you need and how long will it take you to attain certification? What kind of work experience is required to take this step? What kind of professional relationships and connections should you be aiming to build? You will likely have to be flexible enough to make changes to your plan in the future, but knowing your objective, will put you on the right path to achieving your ambition.

Review your resume

When you’ve set up a plan, you can prepare to propel yourself forwards. Producing an impressive resume with solid working experience, is an important tool in career advancement. Demonstrable dedication, education and suitable experience, are helpful when applying for programs and schools. The right resume will also appeal to hiring managers if you’re trying to land a job. Normally, a minimum of one year in employment is advised, to prove proficiency and commitment – enough experience to be taken seriously. Employers and educators want to be sure that they’re investing in a relationship with someone dependable and dedicated. That’s why inconsistencies such as constant job changes, or gaps in employment, should be avoided as much as possible.

Get a mentor

It makes sense that you’ll be more prepared to work in a field where you receive significant help along the way. A mentor will be helpful in guiding your decisions during the course of your education and beyond. By seeking the help of a mentor, you will be able to access their expertise and experience when exploring different career paths or opportunities. Start by reaching out and talking to people who are already working in the specialty that interests you. You shouldn’t become intimidated by this process as most people will be willing to share their knowledge and they may even provide you with important connections.

Further your education

Furthering your education and improving your degree credentials, is very effective in advancing your nursing career. Embarking on higher education will likely help you acquire a salary increase, field specialty and more job opportunities. Some of these academic advancement pathways include:

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
  2. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
  3. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Education is important to landing a lot of executive nursing roles. However, going back to school might not be possible for everyone due to financial or logistical reasons – or even both.

Alternative methods are key.

Take extension courses online

There’s no denying that life is busy. Due to this fact, most practitioners don’t have the time to attend courses in venues to advance their careers. Fortunately, extension internet courses are now available, such as MSN to DNP programs online. With this option, healthcare professionals can continue to advance their careers while managing their daily responsibilities.

In most MSN programs, budding nurse practitioners are able to work with experienced professionals in healthcare. By doing this, they gain invaluable insights into their vocation. During training, student nurses will learn more about latest best practices. Nurse educators will also teach the students critical thinking, which they will need to excel.

Consider another nursing field

Some fields are expanding more rapidly than others. One of them is forensic nursing. This field came about when there came a need for professionals experienced in healthcare and legal matters. During this period, the legal system was crying out for professionals who could correctly identify injuries. This void was filled by forensic nurses, who are trained to document traumas and injuries while also having the expertise to handle distressing situations like serious injuries and even death.

If you’re considering a career in forensic nursing, you will be able to work in several environments. These include:

  • Community crisis center.
  • Community anti-violence agency.
  • Coroner’s office.
  • Medical examiner’s office.
  • Correctional center.
  • Psychiatric hospital.
  • General medicine hospital.

As a forensic nurse, you will likely work on cases involving medical malpractice and even arson. You could also handle cases involving homicide, drug abuse and bioterrorism. If you like variety and unpredictable challenges, this role could be for you.


Throughout your career advancement journey, you will get the chance to interact with different professionals who will be able to provide you with valuable guidance and advice. They will also be able to issue character references when you apply for jobs or programs. Be sure to make the most of this opportunity, as these relationships might really help you in the future.

Another networking tip you should consider, is interviewing or shadowing someone, currently in a role you’re interested in. This will provide you with perspective on the tasks and responsibilities of the position, and the processes needed to attain it. These connections can also help you with information pertaining to internships, job opportunities, clinical ladder programs, and so on. When applying for competitive career programs, knowing someone with superior knowledge of the process, can be an added bonus to your application. Networking also builds interpersonal skills – a skill that is vital in healthcare.

Nursing blogs

The expertise of other nurses is very valuable; they can offer you more insights and information, to keep you up to speed with the latest practices. They can provide knowledge about facilities or specialties that you might not have been aware of. There are numerous nursing blogs on the internet with new ideas that might benefit you. It might open your eyes to alternative fields of nursing, and you can learn about new trends and ideas, to gain a deeper understanding of the healthcare system.

Join a professional organization

Being a member of a professional nursing association or organization, has its perks. You will not only be among passionate and dedicated nursing professionals, you will also gain access to a host of nursing connections.

Nurses in organizations like these, may get invitations to nursing conventions, or even discounts with extended education courses. Your job search could also be supplemented by employment resources and assistance.

Prepare for interviews

Almost all jobs require interviews these days and nursing isn’t any different. Your chances of success will undoubtedly increase when you prepare for your interviews.

This might seem immaterial, but it is important to get enough sleep the night before your interview. Sleeping for at least seven hours is advisable. You should also wear appropriate clothing to the interview – this will create a good first impression and ensure you’re taken seriously.

Be confident, determined and dedicated

It can be difficult to maintain your drive when trying to advance your nursing career. Even when you’re confidence is low, or you’re worn out from the pressures of work or school, you should remind yourself of how far you’ve come and where you want to go. Be confident about your abilities and try to remember that the challenges you face, will shape the kind of professional you aspire to become.

Try to remain organized and reach out to family members, friends and professional mentors, for advice and reassurance. Look after your mental and physical health – your well-being is crucial.

Divide your ambition into a series of small goals, so you don’t become overwhelmed by the enormity of what you want to achieve.

Final thoughts

It doesn’t matter what position you start from, in nursing – there will always be an opportunity to climb up the professional ladder. Take out time to assess your goals and envisage how your career will pan out in its entirety. Then you can begin working on the steps needed to achieve those goals. With patience, perseverance, dedication and hard work, you will, one day, achieve your goals and advance your career.