To the Growing Nurse: 8 Tips for Navigating the Nursing Profession Successfully

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Here are some amazing tips that will inspire young and fresh nurses as they navigate through the nursing profession.
Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

It is time to return to core values, time to get back to basics, to self-discipline and respect for the law, to consideration for others, to accept responsibility for yourself and your family-and not shuffling it off on other people and the state. 

– John Major

The nursing profession is a beautiful and well-diversified industry. Irrespective of its nature (constant change and learning), to successfully navigate the profession, one must often be reminded of a simple but overlooked fact: Always, always go back to the basis.

The basis is the foundation for a process or an idea.

A lot of things have changed, no doubt. A lot of things will still change. It is all part of the process.

But you will agree that some things—the core foundation of nursing and what makes a nurse—cannot and will not change.

Because this is often overlooked, a lot of nurses get stuck in their careers with no way forward.

Below are eight tips coined from the basis of nursing as a profession, which one must always go back to:

1. Nursing is a profession: According to the Australian Council of Professions, “a profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as, possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognized body of learning derived from research, education, and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others.” 

Key points to note here are “discipline; ethical; standards; research; education; training at a high level; being prepared to apply; and the interest of others.” Where any of the above are lacking, competencies may be diminished.

2. Scope of practice: The nursing profession is bound by a scope of practice particular to laws in the vicinity or country of practice. 

Read, study, and implement your scope of practice. 

You should never, in any circumstance, deviate from the scope of practice, as this determines not only your career progression in the long run but also the delivery of quality patient care.

3. Pick the type of nurse you want to be: All industries and professions have good and bad eggs. 

Before you became a nurse, you were human. 

Being a nurse does not take humanity away from you. 

It doesn’t take away your hobbies. 

It doesn’t take away your reactions to sadness, guilt, anger, or happiness. 

It’s your responsibility to find the balance between yourself as a nurse and yourself as a person. 

Only when you achieve this can you successfully reach your true potential as a nurse.

4. Become a life-long learner: An amazing characteristic of the nursing profession is life-long learning. 

What was applicable in the early 20s is no longer applicable now. 

Some practices are outdated, and the responsibility of staying up to date on practices and trends falls solely on your shoulders, as stated in the professional standards of practice. 

Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars. 

Take courses. Invest in learning and self-development for the good of yourself, the patients, and the community at large.

5. Find a balance between the good and the bad: The nursing profession is not perfect, and it would be hypocritical to portray it as such. 

However, not knowing how to deal with the bad is what leads to burnout, self-identity crisis, and/or quitting the profession entirely. 

Discover and make time out for your hobbies. 

Find your groove in a specialty if the bedside is too much pressure on you. 

Be knowledgeable and know what options are out there. Set boundaries—emotionally, mentally, and physically. Be assertive and advocate for yourself and your patients. 

Practice self-care. Know your limits, strengths, and weaknesses, and practice within them.

6. Belong to an organization or community: “Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities. “ -Michele Jennae. 

There are many benefits of belonging to a professional organization, and one great benefit is the outcome of networking. 

7. Teamwork and collaboration are vital: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb – Martha Goedert. 

8. All nurses are real nurses: It is often frowned upon when nurses decide to leave the bedside and venture into other areas of nursing, such as research, academia, business, entrepreneurship, and management. [review sentence]. 

A nurse is a nurse irrespective of what field they decide to practice in. 

And the non-clinical aspect of nursing is just as important as the clinical field. 

Research is what makes us take infection control measures to avoid the spread of infections in the workplace. 

Academia is what trains the new and upcoming nurses to fill in the gap left by nurses retiring or leaving the profession. 

Management is what makes policies and changes needed for safe clinical practice. 

Entrepreneurship deals with innovation to foster the delivery of health care. 

We are all nurses in our different niches and practices, and we all need each other to perform according to Virginia Henderson’s definition of nursing.

And a bonus tip: know your “why.” There is no success without failure. 

Your “why” is what keeps you going amidst obstacles and challenges. 

And only a strong enough “why” can take you to the end.

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