How to Kickstart a Meaningful and Rewarding Nursing Career

How to Kickstart a Meaningful and Rewarding Nursing Career was originally published on Vault.

Nursing is one of the few careers that truly lets you make a real difference in the world. It’s rewarding and fulfilling to touch lives every single day at your job. Nursing also offers a wide range of advancement opportunities, flexible work arrangements, good pay, and great job security. And with the right guidelines, you can easily and relatively quickly jumpstart a nursing career. And here are five tips to help you get started.

1. Acquire knowledge and licensing

It’s required to acquire the necessary training required to become a nurse. In the U.S., you need to have at least an accredited associate’s degree in nursing before you can start your nursing career. You can also continue further to acquire a master’s degree in nursing. In addition, you need to be certified. Various state boards must make sure you have the right skills to carry out your work as a nurse. One of the things the board requires of you is to pass the NCLEX RN exam, which affirms that you are good to be licensed.

2. Expand your skills

If you’re like most nurses, your ultimate goal is to advance in your career as a nurse. One of the best ways to do this is by expanding your knowledge. First, you should expand your theoretical knowledge by reading a lot and checking online resources as well, similar to the guides that Osmosis offers. Then, you’ll need to expose yourself to different situations in the course of your work. For instance, you can opt to work as a travel nurse at the beginning of your nursing career.  As a travel nurse, you get to work in different locations and with different people, which expands your experience.

Another great way to expand your skills and experience is taking on extra responsibilities at work. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that allow you to do more and learn more while at it. You can also think of attending conferences and events related to nursing, which allows a good avenue to learn as well.

3. Find a mentor

Starting something new is always a risk, as you don’t know what lies ahead. That’s why you need someone to guide you along the journey. Mentors are people who’ve gone before you in the career and are well conversant with how things unfold. They’re in a good position to help you identify opportunities that you can take advantage of as well as pitfalls to avoid. Look for individuals who’ve worked in areas of your interests within the nursing career.

In addition, start building connections as soon as you decide that you want to pursue nursing. Attend industry events to connect with other like-minded people. At such events, ideas are shared, which helps you know what is happening in the industry.

4. Follow your passion

A career in nursing is very diverse. There are many specialties that you can choose to work in depending on your interests. While it’s good to expose yourself to different situations, specializing in one area gives you authority in that niche. And if you do specialize, try to choose a path you’d want to follow and stick to. For instance, if you’re interested in pain management, you can work as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  But if you want to work in a managerial role within the nursing field, choose to work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Be sure to audit your interests and research the specialties that align with your interests.

5. Keep your well-being in mind

Working as a nurse can be very demanding. Sometimes your interest to help people will keep you on your feet even way beyond your shifts. If you’re not careful, you can end up feeling nursing burnout from overworking. In addition, working in the medical field involves dealing with mortality issues and people suffering and in pain. Experiencing such stressful situations at work can be overwhelming over time, and can take a toll on your mental health.

Even as you take care of other people, don’t forget to take care of your own wellness. Find ways to separate yourself from stressful situations at work. Ensure that you maintain a good social life, so that you can have people to talk to about such situations. Find interesting things to do and exercise regularly. Most important, ensure that you know when to log off so you can have enough rest between shifts.

Mathilde Leroux is a career advisor with four years of experience. She assesses personal characteristics, skills, and interests via individual interviews and group work by providing appropriate help and advice.