For nurses with previous careers in the business world, you may have taken part in a SWOT analysis at one time or another to determine a business strategy or direction. For nurses new to this concept, this is a handy framework for taking a 360-degree look at any aspect of your life. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus specifically on its application to your nursing career.
What is SWOT?
The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While these four categories cannot completely address every aspect of your career, they offer a framework in which you can deeply examine the growth of your career and how both internal and external forces impact it.
A SWOT analysis does not have to be a singular event. Rather, since you, your life and your career are organic and developing over time, the results will likely never be the same twice. Archiving your results for comparison over the years can offer valuable insight into your career trajectory and the ways in which your goals and aspirations have changed with age.
By examining your strengths, you take an inventory of what moves your forward in your career. These strengths may be personality traits (e.g., being highly organized, efficient), but they also may be external factors that empower you (e.g.: a wonderful spouse and home life, a supportive group of friends, a trust fund at your disposal).
Your strengths propel you, prop you up, empower your forward movement and add value to your life.
As with strengths, your weaknesses may be internal (e.g., disorganization, lack of focus) or external (e.g., constant conflict with your spouse, a chaotic home environment). Your weaknesses may be distractions, or they may actively prevent you from accomplishing the next step. Understanding your weaknesses is paramount.
Opportunities come in various guises. An opportunity might be a colleague who offers to be your mentor; another might be the chance to work abroad where you’ll learn new ways of approaching universal problems. Opportunities may be big or rather subtle; your job is to recognize them and take advantage of those that will serve you most.
Threats are not quite weaknesses, but some of your weaknesses can become threats. For instance, a disintegrating marriage will certainly affect your ability to focus on your professional development, and a negative personal habit could be perceived as a threat, as well. Meanwhile, the downsizing of your workplace may be an uncontrollable extrinsic factor that threatens your job.
SWOT for life
You can utilize the SWOT analysis structure for your parenting, finances, career, marriage or any other aspect of your life. Consider using the SWOT matrix to examine your nursing career; decide what’s standing in your way and who and what is on your side; and determine how you can turn threats into opportunities and weaknesses into strengths.
SWOT is a tool; how you use it determines its applicability. Understand the power of the SWOT analysis process, and consider how it may be applied to taking your nursing career to the next level.
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