Whether you are just starting out as a nurse or you have been a registered nurse for a few years, you probably already know just how hard it can be to juggle different aspects of your life. Balancing work commitments with a healthy lifestyle can be difficult enough, and trying to find time to advance your career may seem out of the question. However, with the right approach and a bit of patience, taking your career to the next level is absolutely achievable. Here is a guide to help you expand your career while successfully balancing your home and work life.
Home Communication is Key
No matter where you stand in your career, good communication with loved ones is key to a healthy work and home life. Sharing the hopes and aspirations you have for your career will help close ones understand your mentality when making certain decisions. Whether you have a family to support at home, a partner to return to at the end of a shift, or close friends you want to maintain a good relationship with, you need to make sure you keep communication channels open. As a nurse, your schedule can be incredibly hectic with long hours and unexpected, last-minute shifts. This irregular pattern can have a dire effect on personal relationships. Therefore, it is important to develop your home support network and keep immediate family and close friends looped in. Try to clue your close ones in on your changing schedule. This way, they are aware of when you are available and why you may be taking longer than usual to reply to messages or return calls. Keeping in touch regularly can prevent close relationships from fizzling out.
Supportive Home Network
With a chaotic schedule, it is easy to become overwhelmed with work. By keeping your loved ones aware of schedule changes and work issues, you can help them help you. Although you may not want to burden your close family and friends with issues, or you want to keep work and home life separate, speaking up can help you manage your problems better. Not to mention, it can be much more difficult to open up about problems that have been going on for a while. In addition, if your family is aware of the issues you are dealing with at work, they can help lighten the load at home by distributing responsibilities while you work through your problems. Open communication will also give context to your behavior at home. Your family will be more understanding if you go through mood swings or if you seem a bit distant and off with them.
Maintain an Open Dialogue at Work
Good communication is essential with loved ones and with the people you work with too. Establishing an open dialogue at work and maintaining honest work relationships can help you work better as a team, open up new possibilities, and it can even help you get assigned suitable shifts. Although most people will have to take on their fair share of unsuitable shifts during their career, being honest about your home life with your line manager may help them assign shifts that are more suitable for you. Not to mention, having an honest relationship at work can help you advance your career. Not only will your superiors know that you want to take on more responsibility or learn something new, but your colleagues may also be more likely to let you know about new job roles.
Keep an Eye Out for Opportunities
Besides speaking openly about your willingness to advance your career with your work colleagues and superiors, you can also keep an eye out for new opportunities in the workplace. Performing the same tasks every day can get monotonous and tiresome. Simply working in a new department could make all the difference. In addition, many workplaces provide engaging development and training programs that help employees expand their knowledge and get ahead in their careers.
Seek Out a Mentor
A mentor should be someone who has gained more experience than you in your field or the field you wish to work in. They should be willing to share their expertise, knowledge, and time with you to help you succeed. Speaking to experienced professionals in your workplace who you have deep respect for, and asking them to be your personal mentor, can truly help you in your career. Not only will you have someone to turn to with general queries, but you can also gain an alternate perspective when you are faced with challenges at work.
Expand Your Professional Network
A great way to further your career is to expand your professional network. You can do this by liaising with professionals within your organization, attending conferences, and joining professional nursing organizations. Joining a nursing organization may open up new opportunities which you may not be able to access without becoming a member. Not only will you become exposed to varied job roles, but you can also attend private events and make valuable connections that could help you step up the career ladder. You will also be around professionals in the same boat as you, which means that you will gain a wider social circle of nurses with who you can connect in a meaningful way.
Earn More By Learning More
An effective way to advance your career is by educating yourself further. Not only will you be able to apply for a wide range of roles, but you will also be able to earn more than your current pay scale. Not only are advanced nursing degrees correlated with higher salaries, but they are becoming the norm within the field of nursing. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN), 64.2 percent of nurses have gained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree or a Ph.D. Not to mention, some organizations require registered nurses to have a BSN at the very least. This could be due to the connection between higher education and good patient outcomes.
Get Qualified Online
Juggling work/life commitments while getting qualified may feel like an impossible feat, but you can make the process easier by gaining your degree online. Not only will you be able to study at home while earning enough money to live your life as usual, but you can fit your online learning around socializing and precious family time. With a huge range of programs to choose from, nurses have plenty of opportunities to broaden their knowledge. However, if you wish to take this step, you should make sure you receive your qualification from a reputable institution. When researching courses to take, it is a good idea to look out for an accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
Opportunities with an Advanced Qualification
Working nurses can choose from many different qualifications, depending on where they want to be in the future. For example, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree will provide existing nurses with the potential to earn more.
Furthermore, earning a graduate degree, such as a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, will give you advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) status. The APRN category includes specialty roles, including nurse practitioner (NP), certified nurse-midwife (CNM), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), and clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Become a Nurse Practitioner
Besides the enhanced earning potential, recent nursing trends indicate that many registered nurses choose to pursue advanced degrees so that they can work in job roles that offer a better work and life balance. In particular, nurse practitioners generally benefit from high salaries, good employment prospects, and the chance for future growth.
Not to mention, the U.S. News & World Report states that the N.P. job role ranks as second when it comes to the best healthcare job and third in overall jobs and STEM jobs.
Increased Earning Potential
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a registered nurse is $75,330 per year, while the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $117,670. This shows that you have the potential to earn over $40,000 if you gain advanced qualifications. In addition to this, at 45 percent, the job growth rate from 2019 to 2029 exceeds the average for other occupations. This projection is due to the growing demand for nurse practitioners in the healthcare industry and the growing needs of the aging population within the U.S.
Nurse Practitioner License
Besides achieving an advanced degree, prospective nurse practitioners must obtain the correct state licensure to practice. Once an MSN or a DNP has been achieved, nurses can begin pursuing certification. Registered nurses who wish to become an N.P. should research the specific licensing guidelines outlined by the state they want to practice in.