Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nurses
As the new year approaches, take some time to reflect on (and possibly realign) your career path
The new year is a great time to focus not only on cleaning up around the house, but also on giving your career some sprucing up so you can move beyond your current achievements.
Schedule time to reflect on your professional life, including where and how you spend your time, your successes and failures and what bumps you have hit in the road. As you would in your home, purge unwanted career-related “clutter” that slows you down or no longer serves any purpose. Then, brainstorm ways you can develop the seven important attributes of success described in the following pages. The goal is to refocus, reorganize and rebalance.
By tidying up in this way, you’ll be ready to catapult your career forward.
When studying the careers of highly successful nurses, seven attributes arise over and over again. Make cultivating these habits the object of your own career spring cleaning.
- Stay Active in Professional Associations. Successful nurses recognize the multitude of opportunities and avenues for growth that come with being involved in professional nursing organizations. Groups like the ANA and Sigma Theta Tau bring nurses from all specialties together as part of a greater whole. Specialty organizations like the Emergency Nurses Association or Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses give nurses an opportunity to connect with colleagues who share similar interests and experience.
Throughout each year, I meet dozens of successful nurses whose affiliation with an organization revitalized their careers. For example, Sharon enrolled in a formalized mentoring program offered by one of her organizations. The program connected her with a mentor who guided her in learning how to create abstracts and write proposals to speak at conferences. She went on to become a keynote speaker. Through another organization, Sarah met the editor of a professional journal, who helped her publish her first article. Sarah then parlayed that experience into working as a nurse expert in the publishing arena.
Where can you start? Oftentimes, nurses everywhere share similar challenges. If you have a work-related problem, try reaching out to your organizations for problem-solving ideas from colleagues who have been there and done that. It will help you find solutions that work and avoid reinventing the wheel. You can also take advantage of the numerous other benefits your professional organizations offer, including free or reduced-cost continuing education courses, conferences, networking and scholarships.
- Engage in Lifelong Learning. We all talk about lifelong learning, but highly successful nurses take that commitment to the next level. They thrive on new challenges at work, often volunteering for committees or taking on train-the-trainer roles. If you want to keep learning, there are few better ways than to teach. Try volunteering to precept new hires, which will test your own knowledge as you review policies and pathophysiology to ensure that you are the best preceptor you can be.
Also, consider your options for formalized education. Is there a new certification you can earn in your area of specialty this year? Would your career goals benefit from pursuing a higher nursing degree? Do you need to brush up on some prerequisites for your next educational objective? Consider educational options both within and outside the nursing realm.