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Reaching the Pinnacle of Your Potential:
How to Climb the Nursing Career Ladder

To become a nurse in the first place, you had to undergo years of training and education. You didn’t devote all of that time and effort for nothing. You put yourself through all of those long, unpaid nights on the ward because you knew that, one day, you would reach the top of your career ladder. You’re never going to reach the pinnacle of your professional potential, though, if you don’t resolve to do something about it. Nobody is going to take your career in nursing to the next level for you. That arduous task falls to you and you alone.

If you want to fulfill the dreams you had as a student, you’re going to have to resolve to be the hardest working healthcare provider in your hospital. You’re also going to need to improve your reputation, expand your skillset, and offer something a bit different. Only when you do all of this will you start attracting the attention that you need to catapult your career to new heights.

To understand exactly what you must do to climb the nursing career ladder, make sure to read on to the following tips.

Get an advanced degree

The key to unlocking a great career in the field of nursing is an advanced degree. With such a qualification on your resume, you’ll show yourself to be an expert in your field, and ultimately, this will result in you being considered for more jobs and promotions in the future.

It’s true — taking a step backwards into the world of education could help you make real strides forward in your career. Some of the specific rewards you stand to reap as the holder of an advanced degree include:

  • Both an immediate salary boost and an increase in long-term earning potential
  • More respect as a healthcare provider
  • The ability to become a healthcare educator at some point in your career
  • Enhanced freedom when it comes to choosing your working hours
  • The opportunity to go for leadership roles earlier on in your career

Quite simply, if you want to progress further in your nursing career in a shorter period of time, you have to be willing to get yourself an advanced degree sooner rather than later. Fear not, though, as heading back to university or college doesn’t necessarily have to mean putting your career on hold for a number of years. There are plenty of educational institutions out there that offer advanced nursing degrees remotely. By enrolling on the online post master's FNP certificate course offered by Texas Woman’s University, for example, you would be able to study in your own time and at your own pace. You wouldn’t have to physically attend lectures or have meetings with your tutors. Everything you do will be 100% Internet-based, meaning you will be able to fit your studying into your busy schedule. This will allow you to carry on giving your all to your profession while you work towards attaining the certificate that is going to take your career to new heights in the future.

Become certified in other areas

If you want your superiors to take notice of your work and subsequently offer you the chance to progress in your career, you have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do this is become certified in other areas and disciplines within the nursing/healthcare field. By expanding your working knowledge in this way, you will be able to take on all the tasks that your peers aren’t trained to perform. Ultimately, this will put you in a better position than them when promotions within your healthcare institution become available.

There are plenty of areas within the nursing field that you can become certified in, some of which include becoming a:

  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Midwife
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Holistic nurse
  • Nursing specialist

If you really want to push the boundaries and go the extra mile, you should consider gaining certification in the field of law, as this would allow you to become a legal consultant. Going down this route in your career would see you share your medical expertise with attorneys, lawyers, and juries on a day-to-day basis, your end goal being to assist them in sorting out legal issues that are directly linked to the provision of healthcare. For example, should a patient claim compensation for medical malpractice, your role would be to unearth the truth about their physical condition, and in this particular instance, your medical knowhow might act as the deciding factor in whether or not the claimant gains their compensation.

Expand your nursing skillset

Becoming certified in other areas is all good and well, but you also need to expand your nursing skillset if you want to prove yourself truly worth of promotion. Claiming that you can take on a task is one thing, but actually performing and optimizing the task in question is another thing entirely.

To expand your nursing skillset and broaden your knowledge of the field of healthcare in general, you should:

  • Shadow your superiors, and assist them in high-pressure surgeries/treatments as and when it is acceptable for you to do so
  • Develop your critical thinking/reasoning skills by learning to delve deeper into patient medical records
  • Learn to remain abreast of all the latest trends, changes, and developments in the field of healthcare
  • Get to grips with the fact that anything could go wrong at any time
  • Manage your schedule a lot more effectively to ensure that each of your patients gets an ample amount of time with you
  • Improve your concentration skills to ensure that you are never administering the wrong medicine or sending patients on the wrong treatment courses

Work on your soft skills

You also need to work on and hone a number of soft skills if you’re to succeed as a nurse. By getting to grips with the following abilities, you’ll find it much easier to deal with particularly difficult patients, you’ll be a lot calmer when it comes to administering certain medications, and you’ll be able to carry on with your work no matter how many challenges come your way on a day-to-day basis.

Hone the following soft skills, and you’ll be a more well-rounded nurse in no time:

Compassion is essential in the field of nursing. If you don’t show empathy towards your patients and their medical plights, you could make them feel uncomfortable or even scared whenever they are around you. Their time in hospital is going to be difficult as it is, and making them feel worse about the situation will only delay their recovery process. No matter what they’ve done to land themselves in hospital, you should always strive to be compassionate with your patients.

No matter how perilous their medical condition or situation might be, you must always resolve to be positive when you spend time with your patients. So long as you don’t feed them false information or get their hopes up for no reason, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to boost patient morale through the power of positivity. Doing so could even help to speed up their recovery process.

As a nurse, one of your most important jobs is to act as a go-between and advocate for your patients. Every single day, you will be tasked with transmitting patient information to the doctor that is treating them, which means that you must become an effective communicator. To hone this all-important ability, you should fine-tune your ability to speak up, and you should particularly work on becoming an active listener.

The healthcare field is in a constant state of flux. On any given day, a new trend could arise or a new form of technology could be invented that changes the landscape of the industry entirely. To ensure that you are able to keep up with these changes, you need to make sure that you are adaptable. If you don’t embrace change and progress, you will quickly find yourself falling behind the times with regards to the type of treatment that you offer to your patients. Should this happen, sooner rather than later you will be unable to provide your patients with the standard of care that they want, need, and expect from you.

As you already know, you are expected to work long hours as a nurse. To ensure that you face each new day with renewed enthusiasm, you have to build up your stamina in both a physical and mental sense. Only when you take such action will you be able to able to put all of the advice laid out above into practice over a sustained period of time.

Look the part

As well as working hard and expanding your knowledge of the healthcare industry, you’re also going to have to look the part if you’re to succeed as a nurse. To the point, you have to ensure that you look professional, clean, and tidy at all times. Anything less, and your patients won’t trust in your ability to provide them with healthcare of the highest possible quality.

Even in scrubs, it’s possible for you to look like a true professional. To look the part in your nursing uniform, you should:

  • Choose scrubs that suit your body type first and foremost
  • Wear colors that compliment your skin tone (provided you are able to choose what color uniform you wear)
  • Make sure your pants and top match
  • Add a personal touch to the uniform by having your name embroidered on it
  • Accessorize your scrubs with subtle yet attractive forms of jewelry
  • Keep your scrubs clean, and be sure to have a second pair at hand while you’re at work

Be proactive at all times

If you stop working and looking for professional opportunities in a highly proactive manner, your career will be sure to stagnate. Make sure you are proactive at all times, and chances to progress in your field will present themselves to you sooner rather than later.

To be a proactive nurse, you must:

  • Anticipate the different needs of your patients before they become apparent
  • Persistently look for solutions to even the most impossible of situations
  • Work wisely to ensure that you are devoting time and effort to each individual task that you face
  • Bring your ideas into fruition

Expand your network

Expanding your professional network is an essential task that you must undertake if you are to take your career in nursing to the next level. By simply knowing more people, you will put yourself in a much better position to be granted fresh opportunities. What’s more, with more people to vouch for you, you will find it much easier to prove your worth to potential employers.

To expand your network, you should be sure to join professional organizations in the nursing industry. Some of which include:

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
  • American Hospital Association
  • Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • National Association of Health Services Executives
  • American College of Healthcare Executives

Reaching the pinnacle of your potential in the nursing field is never going to be straightforward. It’s going to require copious amounts of time and effort on your part, and you will have to make certain sacrifices in order to get what you want out of your profession. By putting everything you’ve read above into practice, however, you’ll no doubt be heralded as the modern-day equivalent of Florence Nightingale!

Progress may mean getting an advanced degree to ensure that your resume never holds you back from career progression, becoming certified in other areas to prove that you’re not a one-trick pony, honing both your nursing skillset and your soft skills to ensure that you are able to take on all kinds of challenges, looking the part to make sure that your superiors deem you to be a professional, being proactive at all times to ensure that your career never stagnates, and expanding your professional network to ensure that you have the right people vouching for you.

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