As the field of nursing continues to evolve, the opportunities for nurses and nursing students are growing as well. For instance, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) offers a wide array of online nursing programs including the convenient and affordable Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in nursing (RN to BSN) program. This type of online program can be ideal for RNs who want to continue working while earning their BSN.
Nursing offers some of the most challenging, exciting and diverse career paths of any skilled profession in the world. Nurses who want to make the most of their education and experience need to establish career goals and make a concrete plan for achieving those goals.
Take a Personal Inventory
The first step in setting career goals as a nurse is to consider personal strengths, interests and skills. Some people become nurses because they want the freedom to travel and work throughout the country or even the world. Other nurses are interested in establishing a regular routine that allows them to spend time with their families. When setting nursing career goals, consider the following:
- What motivated you to become a nurse?
- What aspects of nursing do you like the most? What things do you dislike about nursing?
- Are you interested in traveling and working in different states or internationally?
- Do you like to work as part of a team, or do you prefer to work independently?
- Is a stable and predictable work environment appealing to you, or do you enjoy doing different things every day?
- Do you have cultural or religious beliefs that have an impact on your nursing practice, such as the desire to work in a faith-based hospital or medical facility?
- Is long-term career stability important to you, or do you enjoy short-term contract work that allows you to move between different jobs easily?
- Do you need a job that includes health insurance and benefits?
- Would you like to work in the community, or do you prefer clinical or hospital nursing?
- What amount of compensation would you like to achieve? Remember that salary is only part of a compensation package; pension plans, benefits, tuition allowance and vacation days are all important as well.
- Where do you picture your perfect nursing jobs, who are your patients and what types of skills and training are required?
Set Goals That Match Your Interests
Once you have taken the time to consider your nursing career, the reasons behind your decision to become a nurse and the type of lifestyle you want, you can begin to set specific career goals. For many people, writing down career goals, along with a timeline is helpful to clarify what they hope to achieve and when.
Research Education and Experience
The best way to achieve your nursing career goals is to research and understand what type of education and experience is needed to be successful in your chosen career path. For some nurses, this means gaining experience by working in a particular unit or hospital, for others, returning to school to upgrade their education to better their career. Nurses who want to work internationally might need to learn a second language, and for advanced clinical positions, specific nursing degrees may be required.
Positions involving program administration and supervision often expect applicants to have a minimum of a BSN. For example, all nurse managers and nurse leaders at Magnet hospitals are required to have at least a bachelor’s-level degree in nursing. Earning a BSN also provides a pathway toward graduate education in nursing. Eligibility criteria for Magnet hospitals require that Chief nursing officers (CNOs) have at least a master’s degree. Many advanced, specialized nurse roles also require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
By clarifying your specific nursing career goals, you will be able to decide what type of education and training is best for you.
New Options Available for Advancing Your Nursing Education
Online degree programs present an attractive option for nurses whose career goals include increased pay as well as clinical and managerial positions. Programs like UTA’s online RN to BSN allow nurses to complete their degree in about a year while continuing to work at their regular jobs.
In addition to being convenient, online education can be more affordable than traditional classroom learning. Because online students can continue to work while pursuing a degree, many students in online programs are able to complete their degrees without needing to take out student loans. For nurses, this means that an online degree can have a high return on investment. Nurses who enhance their education with an online RN to BSN are positioned to increase their earning potential and pursue higher-level positions.
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.