Don’t Just Drift Along, Choose a Specialty.
I used to change jobs every two years as I used to get bored with each nursing job I had. I was lucky to find a position that I was happy to stay with (I have been in my current role for 10 years now). While I was fortunate to end up in a position that finally suits both me and my family life, I realised that if I had put a little more thought and effort into my career earlier on, it could have been a shorter journey to end up working in the area that I enjoy.
If you are new to nursing, you may want to consider the following tips to help save you working in areas that you don’t enjoy and to help you select a nursing specialty area and then fast track your career path in your chosen area of expertise…
1. Consider what areas of nursing you enjoy working in (e.g. paediatrics, surgical, maternity). Do you have a ward or department that you seem to have a natural flair for?
2. Consider specialising in that particular area by talking to the Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), Clinical Nurse Consultants (CNC) and Nurse Unit Managers (NUM) in that field to get tips on a career path you might follow. Have a prepared list of questions and ask them what they like about that speciality. I heard a tip once that said if you don’t aspire to one day take on your bosses’ job, you’re in the wrong job.
3. Apply for a position in your chosen specialty (if not already working in that area). Find out from the NUM what you can do to enhance your chances of being a successful applicant.
4. Check what courses are available at University and TAFE (Technical and Further Education). Courses may help boost your chances of attaining CNS status or for getting a go as the acting NUM when the boss goes on holidays. Filling in for someone and walking in their shoes for a while can help you decide if you really do want to take on their role one day.
5. Set a goal of working in a certain specialty to be achieved by a certain date. You should be working towards achieving goals in your nursing career. E.g. I will be a CNS in Paediatrics by Dec 2009.
6. Take an active role in the ward. Volunteer to run a quality assurance project for the department. Be interested and enthusiastic about your work and be a role model for your peers.
7. Become a resource person for your department. Conduct research at home on the internet to see what research, break throughs, technology is being introduced into your specialty area. You don’t have to be the ward geek or walking encyclopaedia but being armed with interesting facts and trivia will show that you are more than interested in your specialty.
8. Attend conferences and seminars that relate to your area of expertise. Even if you have to pay your own way (you can get a tax break on your out of pocket expenses). Attending these will keep you up to date with the latest and greatest in your area and you will be one of the first to know of the new and exciting directions your chosen specialty is heading in. this will also help to feed your enthusiasm for your area of expertise.
9. Do one Personal Development course each year. This is so that you are achieving your life AND career goals and such are maintaining a healthy balance.
10. If it’s not working out for you don’t stress as you can always change specialties. I have found that is one of the biggest benefits of nursing, you can have many jobs in the one career.
Do you have any tips to add to help any newbies in their quest to both find one and then be able to advance in a nursing specialty?