All the hard work you put in to complete nursing school has finally paid off.
Whether you’re entering your first year or you’ve been plugging away for a while, the next logical step is carving out a name for yourself.
After all, you’re certainly not the only nurse in town.
Finding ways to make your mark and shine as a talented standout amongst your peers can help you bring your career to the next level.
If you’re not sure where to begin, don’t worry.
We’ve got you covered.
We tapped into our community of seasoned health care professionals and asked them what proactive steps they’d recommend to get noticed by patients, colleagues and, most importantly, those who have the power to reward and promote you.
Here are a few of the things they suggested.
Nobody expects you to know everything.
In fact, if you try too hard to prove that you’re 100% knowledgeable about every little thing, you’ll open yourself up to potential mistakes.
And we all know that in the medical field, even a tiny error could have devastating consequences.
Be confident about what you do know, but don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you’re unsure of.
Doing so will demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn, both of which are great qualities to have.
Going hand in hand with asking questions is the important step of active listening.
Know that your colleagues – especially tenured nurses – have lots of tips, tricks and life lessons to share.
Find someone you can trust and learn from, and then soak up his or her wisdom every chance you get.
Likewise, never look down on someone with a lesser title than you.
Remember that you’re all in this together, and being willing to listen with an open mind will make you a much better colleague AND provider.
Master your bedside manner.
One of the most powerful ways you can shine as a nurse is to make patients a top priority.
Remember that your patients aren’t just numbers or diagnoses.
They are human beings that are complex, and they’re looking to you to provide them with the best possible care.
Treating your patients and their family members with respect and dignity not only elevates your level of care, but it can be very rewarding from a personal standpoint.
If you struggle in this area, try to think of each patient as if he or she were a member of your family and then treat them as you’d like that loved one to be treated.
Go with your gut.
Throughout your career, there will inevitably be times when you feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Sometimes it can seem as if you don’t know much of anything.
In those instances, it’s important to fall back on your basic training and apply some common sense.
Question things you don’t understand.
Check, double check and triple check if necessary.
If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Go ask for help instead.
When you are careful and listen to your instinct, you’ll establish a track record of reliability.
Never stop learning.
While not every state requires continuing education credits in order to maintain a nursing license, that doesn’t mean you should let your thinking cap get rusty.
To the contrary, it’s in your own professional best interest (as well as that of your patients) that you continue honing your skills, stay current on best practices and gain new competencies.
Not only will this make you a much more effective nurse, but it’ll also make you a much more valuable asset to your current and future employers.
Having a thirst for knowledge and being proactive about it will help you catch the attention of the powers that be.
Find a mentor.
You don’t have to be a newbie to enlist the help of a mentor.
In fact, nurses at every career level can benefit from the wisdom and guidance of a mentor.
For instance, let’s say you’ve been working as a general NP for many years, but you’re interested in moving into a certain specialty.
Finding someone who is already experienced in that position can help you more clearly define and map out your career path.
And, of course, for someone new to the field, having a seasoned nurse to learn from and rely on when questions or concerns arise can do wonders for shaping a standout career.
Take care of yourself.
There’s a wise saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and boy does that hold true in nursing.
In such a demanding job, you’re being pulled in dozens of different directions at any given moment.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and start neglecting your own basic needs, like eating a balanced diet and getting an appropriate amount of rest.
But your patients are depending on you to be at your very best.
If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to give them everything they need.
Make your own wellness a priority, always.
It’ll pay off by making you a better and more successful nurse.
Pay it forward.
Just as it’s a good idea to find a mentor and ask questions from those who are more seasoned than you, it’s equally important to give back.
Take a new nurse under your wing to show him or her the ropes.
Be open and encouraging of others who may want to come to you with questions of their own.
Treat colleagues with respect – especially those who have lesser titles than you.
By making yourself a resource for others, you’ll establish a reputation that will earn you the respect of your peers and your managers.
Whether you’re brand new to nursing or you’ve got decades under your belt, finding a way to stand out can help propel your career even further.
Living by the eight expert tips above should help you create a name for yourself that will bring you much success in the future.
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