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Tips for Sustaining a Nursing Career

Career News April 9, 2013

You might be surprised to know just how many nurses give up a promising career in their favorite profession, solely because they take some common missteps, and are never able to recover. By learning the traps in advance, you can avoid burnout. Better yet, you can sustain a career in nursing for the rest of your working life. Here are a few points to remember.

Mentally Prepare Yourself for a Grueling Challenge

This does not mean that you should literally fight your co-workers and superiors. However, the profession itself can be grueling. You must prepare yourself mentally against burnout, and against the demands of the profession. Many nurses are not prepared for the challenges that arise, and will end up exiting the profession, and going into another career path.

Remember why you signed up for this career in the first place. You knew it would be challenging, but you wanted to be a part of this profession to help people, to save lives, to ensure patients are protected and given advocacy.

To protect against burnout or self-implosion, do not hold in your frustrations. Do not deny the stresses of the job, and whatever you do, do not take the work home with you. Find ways to enjoy your personal life, so that you do not suffer the proverbial 24-hour work day. Connect with the people you meet, understanding that they are in the same profession for similar reasons. Network and be supportive as much as you can afford to be. Do not try to play superhero. Share the responsibility and the rewards with your co-workers.

Do not Stay in the Same Place—Aim for a Higher Goal

If you never reach out, you will never progress beyond a veteran nurse. Do not sell yourself or your knowledge short. You can advance by reaching out into teaching positions and nursing instruction. Your clinical ladder awaits you, and if you possess leadership and speaking skills, in addition, to nursing science and administration, then you can go higher up that ladder and train a new generation of nurses. By asking for feedback from other hospital and clinical specialists, you can show your ambitions. In addition to teaching, you can also eye a research job, or a nurse practitioner. It may require more education, but you can look into grants, scholarships and hospital-provided training programs to help defer some of the cost. Online degrees are also a quicker way to traditionally approach continuing education.

Look Into Traveling and Public Health

One of the best ways to ensure autonomy (which is important to nurses who do not like to be micromanaged) is traveling. Traveling nurses earn good money, get to meet new people, see new regions, and keep up with the latest technology. You can stay clear of heavy office politics, as you will be trusted as an equal, especially if you come from a background of steady nursing practice in a big hospital. Consider public health nursing options as well, as this will allow you to be active in community health education programs.

Chart a Career Plan

Just as a college degree cannot guarantee your employment, securing one job as a nurse will not guarantee a long and prosperous career. Make sure and analyze your job, your career, and your surroundings. You can ask about additional roles of your superiors. You can come up with ideas for improvement, in the areas of patient care. These are all steps that can enhance your career and label you as a go-getter. Remember, a nurse is not an assistant; he or she is a leader, a teacher, and an innovator of medicine. Ensure your career and ensure the medical industry continues to save lives.

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