Individuals who choose to pursue nursing as a full-time career tend to have a very caring nature. Not only do they care about making a good life for themselves and their families, but they also care about doing the same for complete strangers, most of whom are extremely vulnerable. Nursing a human being back to health is not for the faint of heart; the experiences an RN has to go through to make sure other people are looked after can be challenging.

However, nurses also have to make sure their efforts are compensated fairly. Nursing is a job, after all, and if a job doesn’t give you a sense of financial well-being, sustainability, growth potential or even internal satisfaction, it isn’t worth it. As a nurse, you have to stay motivated to make the most out of your job. Here are some things you should consider during your journey to make sure you achieve your goals and dreams.

How to get the most out of a nursing job

Before you work on making the most of your nursing career, you should sit down and think about why you want to enter the field. Figure out what motivates you, whether it’s the prospect of helping people, the chance to earn a good living, or just being really good at your job. Whatever your reason is, hold onto it and make decisions accordingly to get the most out of your career.

Identify your pros and cons

You are the best judge of your own personality. There is no one else more qualified to tell you what areas that you need to work on and what areas you already excel in. It is good to be very certain of your strengths because people often choose to specialize in domains that come naturally to them or that pique their interests.

It is even better to be aware of your weaknesses so you have a chance to improve yourself. Sometimes life can be very tricky and you have to resort to plans B and C. If you actively work on overcoming your weaknesses, you will also see your skills expand.

Think of it as diversifying what you can offer as a nurse. By actively working on things that are outside of your instinctive comfort zone, you are equipping yourself to be more adaptable in such an uncertain economy.

Have realistic goals

A very important tip for staying motivated is to set some goals for your career. It is one thing to land the job of your dreams, but it is another to do well in the role. You can start with small goals such as being among the top new hires of the ward. Keep in mind to set realistic goals because you would be doing yourself a disservice by running after impossible standards.

Continue evaluating your own performance after regular intervals to see how far you have come. Even meeting your daily tasks is a good goal to reach for in such a demanding job.

Build your network

Sometimes, despite the intensity of our own ambitions, we don’t really have a direction to explore in our careers. People often don’t know where to start, and even when they do, there comes a point when they want to explore more. A very useful resource to have is a strong support network. This network should be in person as well as online. You should be on good terms with your colleagues, subordinates and seniors. You should also form connections with patients because they also have the potential to connect you to work opportunities, especially as family nurses.

There are so many platforms online where people from all types of careers form connections, with the most prominent example being LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile yet, make one as soon as possible and look for people outside of healthcare as well. Having a reliable network will open so many doors for you filled with opportunities that you want – and even ones you don’t know you want!

Continue your education

It is common knowledge that certain professions require a lot of academic effort, and healthcare is certainly one of them. Doctors and nurses remain students for a great part of their careers, especially when they want to build long-term careers, because there is so much new information to learn in this industry.

If you are a dedicated RN, you should consider an advanced degree so you can be eligible for promotions. For example, you might plan to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice because it is the highest credential you can possess as a practicing nurse. Spring Arbor University offers an excellent online program to get a DNP while you continue working.

You should also be mindful of the latest research work being done in medicine by keeping up with medical journals and publications. Be sure to take part in relevant seminars and conferences. Even when you start working as a professional, you should keep the path of education open for yourself to find bigger possibilities.

Use your voice

Nursing can be a very thankless job, and there are a few stories out there of nurses who were not treated well in their workplace. If you don’t find the courage to be vocal about negativities in the workplace, you will be taken advantage of, even if your employer has a great work culture. If you see something that isn’t acceptable or you are being mistreated in any way, have the confidence to go to your supervisor or human resources to say something. If you don’t feel safe or appreciated at your job, you will not want to continue it for very long.

Be open to change

If you are ambitious and have big goals for your professional growth, you will have to be very open and receptive to change. This change might be related to shifting from one department or team to another, it may require you to change hospitals or workplaces, and in bigger cases, it may even require you to change cities.

It isn’t possible to come face to face with good opportunities while being stagnant. Sometimes you have to come face to face with making big changes in your current life. Don’t pass on exciting opportunities if they are outside of your comfort zone. In fact, you should embrace these opportunities because that is how you will find new avenues in your career. Change becomes very difficult if you have some legitimate bounds that stop you from taking risks, but whenever the window opens and you have a chance, go for it!

Take care of yourself

If you aren’t well, you won’t be able to provide care for your patients. This should be your top priority as a practicing nurse. Both your mental and physical health need to be optimal so you can handle the stress and pressure of the job.

Be sure to get plenty of exercise in your free time to keep your muscles healthy. You should also get a good night’s sleep so you have the energy to put in extensive hours at work. Your diet also plays a big role in keeping you up and running; eat balanced meals so your mind and body get the nutrients needed to function.

Try to make some time for your personal life as well, even if it isn’t very frequent. Treat yourself to a good movie every now and then. Meet your family and friends to go out and have a fun time. Be sure to have a good support system of people so that when work becomes overwhelming, you don’t get burned out. In addition, be sure to take your vacation time and truly enjoy it. You deserve to pamper yourself for all your hard work, so don’t let guilt catch up with you when you take some time off.

The bottom line

Having a full-time career as a nurse is not an easy feat and it requires a significant amount of perseverance, but success is possible. As long as your priorities are clear and you have goals to achieve, nothing can stop you.

You need to be mindful of never letting go of your motivation to be a nurse because this career will take up more than half of your time, your energy and even your attention. Having something exciting to look forward to will make it easier to persevere.