If you are a registered nurse and you are enjoying every step involved in building and nurturing your career, you may be considering specializing and studying towards a Doctor of Nursing Practice. This is certainly a strategic and worthwhile endeavor, but it is not the only way in which to fast-track your path to success. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to take your nursing career to the next level, starting today.
Obtaining your DNP
There are various different specializations to consider when working towards your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. For example, if your passion is helping infants or children, you might want to investigate the neonatal nurse practitioner track or the pediatric nurse practitioner track. The great news is that there are plenty of esteemed online pediatric nurse practitioner programs available out there, making it possible for you to complete a significant portion of your studies online. Many of these online universities will also provide you with assistance regarding clinical placements when it is time to complete the practical portion of your course.
Most of these online courses take approximately three years to complete. If you are interested in enrolling, keep in mind that there will be certain requirements that you will need to meet in order to be considered as a student. All DNP courses require you to have already obtained your BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and have a specific amount of nursing experience within a healthcare institution. The amount of experience varies from university to university, although it is usually a minimum of one to two years. Finally, a number of the top online nursing colleges will require you to have obtained a minimum GPA, which is usually around the 3.0 mark.
Get working on networking
Along with maximizing your education and earning your DNP, another crucial consideration is building up a strong network within the healthcare sector. Do your best to attend all relevant healthcare events and strike up conversations with as many people as possible. You should also focus your attention on building and nurturing your relationships with your colleagues and your superiors. In doing so, you will often be one of the first to learn of attractive job and promotion opportunities. Another advantage of networking is the chance to collaborate with other like-minded individuals when it comes to solving key challenges regarding daily nursing practice.
Make improvements to your resume
Unless you plan on staying in one hospital or clinic for the remainder of your career, your resume will be a powerful tool to help you land some impressive job offers along the way. Therefore, it is imperative that you start making improvements immediately. There are countless resume mistakes that could cost you your dream job, so do your best to avoid making them at all costs.
A good place to start is by cutting it down significantly. Ideally, a resume should not be longer than two pages. Remove lengthy paragraphs and ensure that all of the core information is easy to read at a glance. It can be helpful to download a free online resume template to assist you in perfecting the basic structure and layout of the document.
Finally, it is always worthwhile to pay a professional to proofread your resume before putting it to good use. Even if you have impeccable grammar, it can be easy to miss small mistakes when scanning a document that you have written yourself. A second pair of eagle eyes can make the world of difference and provide optimal peace of mind that you are ready to make an excellent impression.
Set small, achievable goals
Goal setting is a wonderful way to keep your career progression on track. While becoming a qualified DNP nursing practitioner is the ultimate goal, you should also work on setting smaller goals as you move along your journey. These goals will focus your efforts, motivate you to continue pushing, and keep you feeling accomplished despite any challenges or setbacks that you may encounter along the way.
Dedicate time to self-improvement
When you work on improving your life skills, you will become a better nurse as a result. After all, an incredible nurse is not born – he or she is made! Think about the various skills necessary to excel within your chosen profession and dedicate time to improving them. For example, all nurses need to be persistent, dedicated, empathetic, and passionate about their duties. They also need to possess exceptional communication skills, be able to work under immense pressure, and connect with patients on an emotional level (otherwise known as ‘bedside manner).
The reality is that many of these skills are not just skills that are learned at university. They are everyday skills that can be optimized in many different ways. For example, communication skills can be improved by taking drama or writing classes, while the ability to work under pressure can be improved by learning how to cope with stress and negative thoughts.
Look for a mentor
If you want to learn how to be the best nurse that you can possibly be, finding a qualified mentor should be at the top of your list of priorities. An older, more experienced nursing practitioner will undoubtedly have plenty of advice and lessons to share with you to help mold you into a true force to be reckoned with within your chosen area of specialization. If you are still undecided in terms of your future specialty, connecting with mentors from different branches can prove invaluable in helping you to make your final choice and apply to pursue your DNP.
Taking your nursing career to the next level requires focus, passion, and dedication. Nobody said it was going to be easy. One thing that you can be sure of though is that it will be worth it. So, put the work in now. You will soon be able to savor the rewards that come with your perseverance. Good luck!