New Year’s Resolutions for nurses 2014

New Year’s Resolutions for Nurses

It’s a couple of weeks into the new year. Are you still adhering to your resolutions?

More than 40 percent of Americans pledge some form of self-improvement, most resolutions fall into the “get healthy” or “be a better person” categories.

Career commitments don’t show up nearly as often, but why not take a few minutes this month to plan how you can advance your nursing career in 2014? Here are five suggested goals:

1.     Use social media to create career possibilities. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, it’s time to create one. Healthcare providers of all kinds are increasingly using social websites to network and look for job opportunities.

According to this survey, over 40 percent of healthcare workers now use social media to look for jobs; about half receive mobile text alerts from job recruiters. If you’re not one of them, you’re falling behind.

Start by creating a LinkedIn profile that highlights your education, experience and expertise. Be sure to include your credentials. Simply doing that much will open a world of possibilities to you.

My LinkedIn profile highlights my writing expertise, but because I’ve included the words “Registered Nurse” and “RN,” I regularly get emails from LinkedIn, highlighting job opportunities for RNs.

If you want to take it further, add a photo that highlights your professional personality. People respond to faces, and a photo that makes you look like a pro conveys confidence and competence. Ask co-workers and managers to submit recommendations. Recruiters look for these as evidence of your abilities.

Join Groups that relate to your career interests. (Click on “Interests,” then “Groups.”) Be sure to periodically check the Jobs section as well. You can also use LinkedIn to follow companies and healthcare organizations you may be interested in working with. (Click on “Interests,” then “Companies.”)

2.      Get involved with a professional nursing organization. Participating in professional nursing organizations is the single best way to stay on top of career trends and legislative issues that affect the profession.  The American Nurses Association, for instance, is constantly monitoring legislation that affects nurses’ scope of practice, and in Texas, the Texas Association of Nurse Practitioners is advocating for legislative changes that will give Texas nurse practitioners freedom to practice to the fullest extent of their license.

The results of these efforts directly impact opportunities for nurses, so being involved helps you prepare for what’s ahead. Participation in professional organization also connects you with the movers and shakers in your field, and that’s never a bad thing.

Membership in a professional organization also grants you access to conferences, continuing education materials and networking events.

3.     Take a business course. According to Connie Curran and Therese Fitzpatrick, authors of Claiming the Corner Office: Executive Leadership Lessons for Nurses, “there has never been a better time for nurses to move into the myriad of leadership roles.” The healthcare environment is changing, and nurses know a lot about healthcare and how to best meet the needs of patients, families. and consumers.

That knowledge is valuable to hospitals, healthcare organizations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies. But many nurses lack a basic knowledge of business, finance and marketing, and that lack of knowledge hinders nurses’ opportunities.

Taking a basic business course at a local college or online can open up a world of possibilities for you. (Be sure to highlight your new knowledge on your LinkedIn profile.)

4.     Upgrade your education. Got a LPN degree? Enroll in a RN program. RN degree? Start a RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN programor RN-to-MSN program. Already have a BSN? Look into getting a Master’s or Doctoral degree.

The number of nurses with advanced degrees has increased in the past few years, but still falls far short of the 80 percent BSN/double-the-number-of-doctoral –nurses- recommendations put forward by the Institute of Medicine in The Future of Nursing.

Healthcare is getting more complex, and there are more job openings than ever before for nurses with advanced degrees. Adding an additional educational credential to your resume increases your career options.

5.     Expand your skill set. The seven nursing specialties that most need nurses are intensive care, telemetry, neonatal intensive care, perioperative and operative nursing, dialysis, labor and delivery and emergency nursing.

Even if you don’t plan on switching specialties anytime in the near future, adding highly desirable skills and certifications to your skill set and resume will increase your marketability if and when you decide to seek a new job.

Virtually every one of the most in-demand nursing specialties requires knowledge of telemetry and basic emergency care, so why not invest in a telemetry or ACLS course?

You could also ask your supervisor about cross-training for one of these in-demand areas. You’ll pick up some new skills (on the company’s dime!), and they’ll have another nurse prepared to work in a critical department.

Do you have new Year’s resolution for your career in 2014? There’s no time like the present to boost your professional heath.

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a registered nurse and freelance writer from Milwaukee, Wis.. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including RN, Nursing Spectrum, Scholastic Parent & Child, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

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