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A nursing career game plan for the new year

When the calendar turns its annual corner, your nursing career can do the same. At this time of the year, savvy nurses take a deep look at their career and begin planning ahead.

Using strategy to plan

Strategic career planning is prudent, especially when the year is coming to a close. You can walk through your career unconsciously, or you can treat your career like its own little corporation (with you as CEO, CNO, COO and CFO), planning like tomorrow really matters, which of course, it does.

Strategic planning for nurses entails continuing to assess and reassess where you are, what you’re doing and where you’re going as a professional.

Make a plan, nurse

Formulating a plan for your career may involve:

•    Identifying and assessing the nursing skills you bring to the table. As a nurse, you have a particular skill set. Are there skills you need to acquire or sharpen in order to move in a desired direction?
•    Identifying the personal characteristics that make you a valuable nurse. Do your personal strengths lie in being a team player or having excellent communication skills? What are the characteristics that make you most valuable?
•    Setting your sights on professional goals. What do you want to achieve? These short- and long-term goals determine what inspired actions are needed to fulfill them.
•    Making career choices that strengthen your chosen trajectory. If owning your own company is your goal, make choices that feed your chances of success. If forensic nursing is attractive, certain skills and experiences will make that dream more possible than pursuing completely unrelated experiences. Think strategically.
•    Continually assessing and reevaluating your path. We’re always changing, as is the healthcare landscape. Your goals from 2013 may not be the same now. Keep tabs on what you truly want and ascertain if the current climate supports you.
•    Adjusting proactively as you and the profession change. As the landscapes adjust, your career must do the same. Meanwhile, you’ll continue to change, as will your economic circumstances and professional aspirations. As you reassess, remember to proactively alter your plans accordingly.

Plan and plan again

Planning a dynamic nursing career can be like making Jell-O stick to a wall. Just when you think you have it down, the forces of gravity and entropy kick in and you’re back to square one.

Your life and career are fluid, as is the healthcare ecosystem. Stay aware and awake, document your plans and be open to course alterations in your career game plan. Be willing to take a proactive role in your career, rather than allowing the winds of change to blow you around.

Make plans, then consistently evaluate where you are, where you’d like to be and how you’d like to get there.

By | 2015-12-24T15:55:46-05:00 December 29th, 2015|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway. Keith is co-host of, a popular nursing podcast, and also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. A widely published writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He brings a plethora of experience as a nursing thought leader, holistic career coach, writer and nurse entrepreneur.

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