There are many opportunities to learn and develop as a nurse, increasing the probability that one will be recognized for his or her achievements. Though nurses gain much of their initial knowledge and education from nursing programs, they should take advantage of other opportunities to learn and develop their skills. While some of these are more traditional learning opportunities, other opportunities to grow as a nurse exist in daily activities and the relationships individuals choose to cultivate.
Finding a Mentor
Nursing graduates should seek out a competent mentor for advice and support. Working closely with a experienced nurse will help one to learn all the things that are not taught in nursing schools, as well as provide one with a friend who understands how overwhelming and frustrating work can be as a new nurse. Choosing a mentor who works in a specialization that is of interest or who has valuable expertise is a plus. Many experienced nurses are willing to offer assistance, especially if they have a desire to become a leader or educator in the field. A mentor can also help one to network and make friends in nursing.
Medical professions continuously evolve, making it necessary to stay current on new technologies and methods, along with any other changes relevant to nursing. Reading and subscribing to peer-reviewed nursing journals and periodicals is one way in which nurses can do this. Alternatively, the workplace may have optional materials available to help individuals stay up to date. The internet also offers a number of websites and online support groups aimed to keep nurses current within their targeted field. In addition to these resources, attending nursing seminars are a great way to fulfill continuing education requirements and to learn about new discoveries and changes in nursing.
Joining Professional Groups and Associations
One great way to stay informed and network among nurses is to join national organizations and local chapters of groups that organize nurses within an area. Conducting research to discover the most prominent and trustworthy organizations or associations is a good first step. It may be especially useful to join nursing organizations centered on one’s specialization, such as oncology or critical care nursing. Some of these organizations also offer certification in their specialty area.
Enrolling In Continuing Education Courses
Many states require that nurses complete a certain number of continuing education hours (typically around 30 credit hours) within each licensing period in order to be eligible for relicensing. Regardless of whether or not this is true of a given state, it is still beneficial to continue education. This can be done through individual courses and seminars. Nurses should speak with their employers about whether or not they reimburse for continuing education or participate in student loan forgiveness. In addition, most specialty certifications require a certain number of related continuing education credits in order to become and remain certified.
Earning an Advanced Degree
Regardless of one’s current education, earning a more advanced degree is a great way to get noticed in the nursing profession and to become eligible to take on more responsibility. There are many different options in nursing in terms of higher education. One can go from LPN to RN or from RN to BSN. Master’s and doctoral level programs are also a great option to set oneself apart from the competition and gain valuable expertise in the field. Earning an advanced degree also allows one to learn leadership skills that make him or her more eligible for management and other more autonomous roles.
Pursuing additional certification is a great way to make oneself more marketable in the nursing field. Many nursing specializations have optional certification exams that one can take after working in that particular area for a given amount of time. Becoming certified in ones specialization is a great resume-builder. One can also become certified in specific procedures, such as CPR.
If an individual’s employer does not provide periodical performance evaluations, it may be useful to ask for them. These evaluations can include patient comments and evaluations by supervisors and co-workers. Nurses can also ask for informal evaluations in the form of constructive criticism. Constructive criticism will enable nursing professionals to be aware of areas in need of improvement and to use this information to better their work performance. For those who receive formal evaluations, it is important to read these documents and to take the comments seriously. Saving a copy of each evaluation will help nurses track their progress.
Interpersonal communication is one of the most important non-medical skills in nursing. Certain facilities conduct assessments that grade how well the nurse carries out certain communication-related tasks, such as mentally preparing patients for procedures, explaining the various treatment options, and requesting consultations from a superior when needed. Other levels of the interpersonal assessment will measure the nurse’s ability to relate to the patient.
Interpersonal communication is important for the patient’s wellbeing, in addition to a nurse’s success on an assessment. Having a positive connection with another human being can help one to feel better and assist in recovery. In addition, good communication between patient and nurse can help the patient feel comfortable in what can sometimes be an uncomfortable situation. Patients without family may benefit even more, as they may feel alone during treatment.
These interpersonal skills should be practiced through role playing, and evaluated by peers and clinical instructors to ensure satisfactory results in the workplace. Interpersonal skills should also be used in communication with other nurses to promote a positive work environment.
Proficiency in a language other than English can help set one apart in the nursing world. This is especially true in certain geographic locations. For example, a nurse in Miami or Southern California who can speak Spanish is able to communicate with a group of patients that other nurses cannot speak with without the help of a translator. This is important in nursing, because healthcare providers must be able to diagnose and treat patients effectively. The first step in helping a patient is often for them to communicate what they are experiencing. Proficiency in a language that is commonly spoken in some part of the United States will make one a more marketable candidate for certain nursing jobs and promotions.