Get Your Nursing Career in Shape in 2016


By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

A new year is upon us, and with that comes a host of resolutions, including promises to eat healthier and start a new fitness regimen. While focusing on physical self-improvement is important, the beginning of the year is also an excellent time to take a closer look at your nursing career. You can identify where you are, where you want to be and what it will take to reach your goal.

Just like any successful fitness plan, a few simple steps are all it takes to mold your nursing career into tip-top shape for 2016.

Get your nursing career into tip-top shape for 2016

Step 1: Do a self-assessment

Sometimes, taking a look in the metaphorical “mirror” is the hardest thing to do. Take some time to really evaluate your current skills, competencies, career path and objectives for the future. Make a list of the clinical skills or techniques you lack, alongside a list of the knowledge and certifications you possess. Seeing the things you need to improve on alongside the wealth of skills you already have can give you the motivation you need to take those first steps.

Step 2: Set a goal

There’s a reason why most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick: the goals are too lofty and there isn’t a realistic plan in place (see Step 3). Luckily for you, technology is on your side for goal-setting. Let’s say your dream is to land a travel nurse assignment at a teaching facility in California. Simply input your goal into one of the many free apps available--we like, Evernote, and Strides--and they will help you keep track of your progress with reminders, action items and more. If tech isn’t your thing, simply writing down your goals on paper has been shown to increase the chances of making them a reality.

Step 3: Make a plan

You’ve done your self-evaluation and set your career goal, now it’s time to draft your action plan. Let’s go back to the example about the prestigious travel nursing contract: if the facility requires certain certifications, look into making those happen. Start making a list of the things that need to be accomplished in order to reach the goal. Signing up for job alerts on will help you to keep tabs on current openings and assignments in your specialty and ideal location. If you don’t already have a recruiter and agency, talk to a travel nurse recruiter or other travel nurses to find out more about this career. Do your research and find a travel nurse company and recruiter you can trust.

Step 4: Find an accountability partner, mentor or friend

Studies have shown that having a “workout buddy” helps exercisers stick to their workout plan because they feel accountable to their partner--and the same can be true for your career goals. Whether it’s a nursing colleague, a leader you admire, a friend or your neighbor, sharing your goals and action steps with a designated person can help you to stay motivated and on track. Meet up for monthly “check-ins” so you can share your progress, struggles and wins.

Step 5: Stay consistent and motivated

With a nurse’s busy schedule, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. Remembering your ultimate career goal will help you to stay focused. Consider letting your inner child come out for an arts and crafts night to create a vision board. Get a bunch of old magazines and newspapers, scissors, glue and paper--and have fun! Then, place your vision board somewhere prominently in your home--like the back of your front door so you see it on your way out in the morning!

Whatever your goals are for the new year, wishes you luck on all of your endeavors!

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© 2016. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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