How To Know It’s Time To Move Forward As A Nurse

How To Know It’s Time To Move Forward As A Nurse


Some nurses are more than happy to stay at one level in their careers. They like what they’re doing, and they don’t feel the need to go any further. However, others want to push forward, and they know they want to go as far as possible. If you’re in this latter group, there is a potential issue; how do you know when it’s time to take the next step? How do you know when it’s time to move forward as a nurse?

Nurse wearing blue scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck
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Some nurses are more than happy to stay at one level in their careers. They like what they’re doing, and they don’t feel the need to go any further. However, others want to push forward, and they know they want to go as far as possible.

If you’re in this latter group, there is a potential issue; how do you know when it’s time to take the next step? How do you know when it’s time to move forward as a nurse?

Although there is no scientific way to measure when someone is ready to look for a promotion or study for their next nursing qualification, there are some signs that could prove that you’re ready for something new when you look out for them. With that in mind, here are some of the clues you should be looking for that will help you know when you need to push forward.

You Have A Clear Vision

Anyone who wants to move forward as a nurse and who wants to boost their career in whatever way they see fit must have a clear vision of what their future looks like. If you have this vision, you can create a path that takes you to the end result.

Without a firm but flexible, as ideas and opportunities can change, vision of what you want to do, it will be all but impossible to know what direction to take, and making decisions will be extremely difficult.

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Perhaps you know you want to move forward, but the plans you have are rather vague ones. It’s a good idea to make them more real before you make any moves or apply for any courses – or jobs.

To do this, write a vision statement. A vision statement is simply your statement about what your future is going to be, and although it might sound like an easy thing to do, remember that it must be detailed and realistic, and you must follow it; otherwise, it will be a waste of time and won’t help you get where you want to be. By writing the vision statement, you will have to focus on the future, and that can be extremely useful.

You Aim High

When you start in your nursing career, you’ll want to do well. However, you’ll be so focused on the present and gaining experience that you might not be able to think of the future at all. Later on, when you have the experience and knowledge you need, you’ll be in a much better place to move forward.

Those who truly do want to do this will certainly aim high. They will always do the very best they can do, and if they feel they are lacking in a certain area, they will learn more to ensure their skills and knowledge are up to date. They might join forums, ask for advice from mentors, read blogs, or even go back to school to study for an online post-master’s DNP for their future career.

In other words, when you are constantly striving to know more and be better, and you understand that it’s important to improve yourself – you’ll never think that you already know it all – then you might be ready to move forward with your career.

The truth is, we’ll never know it all and we’ll never be one hundred percent sure about everything, no matter how much experience and education we have. This can be daunting, and it will certainly make some people stop their careers short, but having this understanding and knowing that, as long as you keep trying to be the best you can be, you can get on in life, will help you know it’s time to do just that. At this point, you won’t have to settle for being something and someone you don’t want to be.

You Believe In Yourself

A great sign to tell you that it’s time to move forward and take the next step in your career is that you believe in yourself, and you believe you can do it. This does not mean being boastful or arrogant about your skills and experience, but it does mean knowing that you are good at what you do (with the caveat that you’ll never know everything, as mentioned above – keeping this in mind will actually keep you more grounded, and will ensure you don’t become arrogant) and realizing that there is more to your career than your current level.

Believing in yourself doesn’t mean that you blindly go ahead and do things or that you never ask for help. In fact, self-belief means that you are confident enough in yourself to stop and take stock of any situation so you can make a decision, or that you will happily ask someone for advice or run a scenario by them if you’re unsure about anything.

When you believe in yourself, this is not only good for you and your future career, but it’s good for your patients too. They will appreciate a nurse who knows what they are doing; they will feel more at ease and happier to accept the treatment offered.

Self-belief isn’t always easy to obtain, but if you study hard and always take the time to think about the things you have done and how you might improve them (if necessary), and remember the positives in every day, your self-belief will grow.

You Take The Initiative

Are you someone who waits for something to happen and then reacts, or are you someone who makes things happen and is more proactive? If you’re the former, then you’re not ready to take the next step in your career.

If you’re the latter, however, then, depending on where you are and how much knowledge and experience you have, it might be time to look at new departments, promotions, or what qualifications you still need to make what you want to happen actually happen.

Taking the initiative means that you have the confidence in yourself that you need to take the next step, and not only that, you know what you need to do to do the right thing at the right time. With these skills, it makes sense that you should move forward in your nursing career.

Whether you want to become a manager and leader or try a different branch of nursing, the fact is that if you’re able to quickly and successfully take the initiative, you’re certainly on the right path.

You Stay Focused

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed in all areas of life. There is so much going on, and we are bombarded with information from all sides, 24 hours a day. However, if you are able to stay focused and keep your career goals in mind, despite anything else that might be happening, then it could well be that you are ready to move forward.

You know how important your nursing career is, and you know what you want, and you won’t let anything stand in your way.

This doesn’t just mean plowing ahead with work come what may. It means knowing when it’s time to take a step back and improve your self-care and mental health to prevent burnout, for example. It also means knowing what to focus on, as there will always be plenty happening, and it’s impossible to be fully focused on many things at once.

What is it that really drives you? That’s what you need to have your eye on and what your goal needs to be. When you are able to stay focused on that, even when the world is chaotic and confusing, you are focused enough to achieve your career goals and take the risk of moving forward.

You Use Your Failures

You might think that if you make any mistakes in your nursing career, then you can’t be ready to move forward. This is not entirely the case. Although some mistakes will mean you’re not prepared because they show you that you need more experience and knowledge, all mistakes can help you learn.

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This is the difference between ambitious people and those who are content to stay as they are; if you are ambitious and want to get on and be better, you will look at any mistakes and ‘failures’ you might have made and been through, and try to understand why they occurred. If you can do that and then use that information to grow and become more competent, you may be in a position to take the next step in your career.

The fact is everyone makes mistakes, and no matter how much experience or how many qualifications you might have, it’s what you do with the knowledge of those errors and how they help you become a better nurse that counts.

If you ignore your mistakes, you’ll never learn from them, and if that’s what you tend to do when things don’t go to plan, then you won’t be ready to progress in your career.

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