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How to Have a Successful Nursing Career

How to have a successful nursing career.

Nursing is one of those rare professions that, in addition to knowledge and skills, requires all the best qualities you would look for in a friend. Because nurses come into close physical and emotional contact with their patients, honesty, empathy, reliability and patience are important characteristics within the profession. Nursing may be challenging, but with the advanced training and credentials a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program can provide, it is not difficult to forge a successful career if you hold true to a few basic tenets.

Be Reliable

Many jobs emphasize the importance of punctuality and reliability. Nurses, however, have people’s lives in their hands. Nurses who reliably see to their responsibilities in a timely fashion benefit their patients and coworkers and reduce the likelihood of hospital error. Managers and executives recognize dependable nurses and create opportunities for advancement that can develop a career.

Put Others First

As a nurse, patients are your primary responsibility. That means helping all patients to whom you are assigned, regardless of their condition, personality or background. A successful nurse recognizes that we all have differences, and understanding and respecting those differences is essential for providing quality, patient-centric care. Incorporating a holistic perspective of how social determinants of health impact each patient and how this should inform the patient care plan and delivery is a core component of nursing practice rooted in the drive for health equity.

But, above all else, nurses focus on the qualities that unite us. When patients are going through difficult medical problems, they may be scared, angry and irrational. A successful nurse understands this and approaches even the most difficult patients with empathy, compassion and patience. This skill takes practice, but it is the same skill that makes you a great friend or family member.

Practice Self-Care

While being empathetic and compassionate toward others is part of the bedrock of nursing, treating yourself with the same compassion is equally important. Nurses often work long, irregular hours and are faced with challenging situations regularly. The working life of a nurse can unfortunately be the perfect environment for compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary trauma. The intensely stressful conditions nurses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this and exposed the broader public to how hard a nurse’s job can be.

To foster emotional resilience and maintain a successful and sustainable nursing career, devoting time to self-care practices is a must. This can involve meditation, exercise, healthy eating and sleep habits, taking time for yourself, picking up a new hobby, hanging out with friends, interacting with peers and colleagues through professional nursing organizations — truly anything that adds to your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Be Willing to Learn

Continuing education is one of the most important elements of a successful nursing career. Whether that means learning about another culture to understand a patient’s perspective or learning about the latest medical techniques and technologies, continuing education requires a commitment to lifelong learning.

Learning can be as simple as asking your patients questions. Show an interest and build trust while learning about your patient’s life, experiences and culture. Many cultures and religious groups approach medical problems differently, so taking the time to get to know your patients can improve their care experience.

Of course, there are certain insights that patients cannot give you, like the latest information on new COVID-19 variants or new alternatives to the Epi-Pen. For current continuing education unit (CEU) opportunities, consult resources such as

Invest in Yourself

While patients, colleagues, CEU resources, government health departments and agencies and other authoritative healthcare organizations are great for immediate information on specific problems, you may find that you need a stronger foundation on which to build your career. If you are looking for an excellent opportunity to advance a successful nursing career, consider the online RN to BSN program from The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).

A BSN degree will supplement your RN skills with research-based knowledge, leadership training and expertise that will strengthen your abilities, qualifications and earning potential as a nurse. An online RN to BSN program gives you the freedom to attend classes from anywhere, so you can continue to work while building a brighter future.

Learn more about The UTA online RN to BSN program.

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