A career in nursing can be as fruitful, long-lasting and sustainable as you want it to be – especially when you put in the legwork. Building a strong career that lasts takes resilience and it takes dedication. Ensuring that you get the best out of yourself and the best out of others is imperative. So, to start building a career in nursing that lasts, what do you need to focus on? What do you need to take into account and what should you be prepared for?

Choose the Right Field or Area of Specialism

If you enjoy what you are doing, you are much more likely to build a sustainable career. So with this in mind you have to evaluate what area/specialism you are currently working in. Is the area you are working in leaving you feeling fulfilled at the end of the day or are you just getting by. If you are not getting a lot of the area or specialism you have chosen, then you need to look at moving on. You will not build a sustainable career in an area that you do not enjoy. For example, could you have a much more rewarding career by switching your focus and attention to the area of mental health? Could you look at helping patients in your local community? The area and specialism that you choose will define your career. So, take your time to establish what is right for you both now, and in the future too.

Be Prepared – Always Keep An Eye on the Future

To build a long-lasting and sustainable future, you must be prepared. You have to be prepared and ready for industry changes, and you have to be prepared to retrain or focus on self-improvement. It is important to realize that you cannot stand still within the area of nursing. Once you realize this, you have a shift in your mindset. You realize that you have to be prepared for any eventuality. When you are ready and when you are prepared, you are then stronger and more resilient. These are two qualities that you need for a sustainable career.

Focus on Personal and Professional Development

To push your career forwards in the direction that you want to go, you have to focus on professional and personal development. Improving what you have to offer and improving your skill set is crucial on the road to sustainability. When it comes to focusing on personal development, you have to look at what you are currently offering. Are you offering soft skills that could do with a bit of improvement? For example, are you struggling to express what you need and want?

Personal development can take many guises, and you must establish just what you want to achieve personally. When you are more confident in your personal development, you can then start shifting your focus onto professional development. Professional development in nursing is crucial. Learning new skills, and developing your knowledge and awareness is key to your continued success. When you are looking at professional development, it is important to establish what you want to achieve. When you have goals and ambitions to work towards you will find the process a whole lot easier, and more rewarding.

Continue Your Education

As part of your efforts to focus on professional development, you have to focus on continuing your education. Building a solid education and always focusing on constant learning is important. As you focus on growing a sustainable career, you must look at online programs. Being able to study online gives you a great deal of flexibility and it allows you to study around your work and other commitments. When you are looking at programs to study, you have to weigh up the pros and cons. Try to establish what is going to aid your career, when and why. For instance, there are post MSN certificate programs online which will aid you in getting the career in Psychiatric/Mental Health that you want. It is important to always focus on what a program can offer you. Look at how it can develop your knowledge and awareness, and most importantly look at how it can directly impact your future and your choices. Continuous education and development must be something that you attentively focus on.

Establish Career Goals

Getting to the career point where you want to be (and where you see yourself being) is much easier to do when you have goals to follow. Goals help you to stay focused and they help you to realize your ambitions. Without goals in place, you may struggle to retain your direction and purpose. Losing your direction in nursing can be catastrophic for your career in the short run, and the long run as well. When you are establishing career goals, you need to look at what you want to achieve in a short time frame, a medium time frame, and a long time frame. Career goals should ideally span 1, 3 and 5 years. When you cover this period of time you can be sure that you are working towards your end goal, as well as surpassing smaller goals along the way. Achieving goals will help you to build your confidence.

Be Professional At All Times

Even when you are having a bad day at work you must stay professional at all times. As a nursing professional people look up to you and they model themselves and their behavior on what you do. Ensuring that you are professional at all times will help you to establish and build a positive reputation. A positive reputation attached to your name will hello you go for those promotions, or it will help you push your career.

Invest in Yourself and Others

To build the career that you want you must invest in yourself and others around you. Investing in your skills and investing in your development is key to your longevity and continued success. When you invest in others and you help others, you build your reputation and this again will be useful later on in your career. If you do not offer to help colleagues or other professionals as much as you help yourself, you could be seen as self-centered. This is not going to get you far in a career that focuses on care and support.

Change Happens – Deal With It

The nursing and healthcare industry is always developing and changing, and it is important to deal with this as best as you can. When changes are happening all around you, it can be difficult keeping up with the pace. However, if you take things as they come and try to focus on not getting overwhelmed, you should be able to take any changes on board and welcome them as necessary. Embracing change is something that you should be practicing, and to ensure it happens as easily and smoothly as possible, you need to focus on excellent communication with all involved.

Manage Your Stress

As you move through your career, you will experience high volumes of pressure and stress. How you handle stress and how you manage what you are experiencing is important. If you are not careful, you can let stress get the better of you, and this may mean it can affect your ambitions and your goals. To manage stress you have to remember to take time for yourself. Yes, you are building a career, but that does not mean that you do not need to look after yourself in the process. You are only human and you need time to relax and recharge away from work. Reaching out to other professionals, as well as colleagues and friends and family is always going to prove beneficial. Sharing your emotions, feelings and areas of stress will help you get through any rough patches you face.

Always Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy and this is particularly relevant to the nursing and healthcare industry. Being honest about your role and responsibilities as well as being honest with patients is important. As a nursing professional, you have to build strong bonds and relationships, and you cannot do this with dishonest practices. Similarly, be honest about your flaws and failures. Nobody is perfect, and it is important to share what you have failed in because this way you can then positively move forwards.

Stay Relevant

Building a career that lasts takes time and it takes the support of others too. Networking with other professionals, building your contacts, and forging working relationships is what you should be focusing on. Attending virtual and physical networking events will allow you to liaise with compatible and potentially useful contacts. You also need to ensure that you join organizations and trade bodies within the nursing and healthcare industry. Joining those such as the American Academy of Nursing, or the National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses will allow you to stay up to date with trends and changes in the nursing and healthcare industry.