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Take your career in the right direction

By Gemma Raw

​Are you thinking moving into a more senior nursing role or a different nursing specialism? How do you make sure you follow a career path that's right for you?

As a nurse, you have a number of options for career development. Maybe you're an adult nurse, but feel you'd like to work with children. You may be thinking of switching from a general nursing job to a mental health or learning disabilities nursing role. Or perhaps you feel you're ready to take on new responsibilities as an advanced nurse practitioner, nurse specialist, matron or nurse consultant. 

Whatever direction you see you're career path taking, before you make the move to a new area of nursing, it's important to give it some careful thought and ensure you don't have any regrets. Here are a few tips...

Do you really want a change?

We all have times when our jobs get us down a bit and we feel like we need a change. Do a quick evaluation of your current job satisfaction level. Are there things that you could change to make your job more rewarding and fulfilling? Would this make a difference to the way you feel? 

Is the grass really greener?

Make sure you do plenty of research on the nursing role to which you're thinking of switching. If possible, talk to people who are already doing that kind of nursing work or senior nursing colleagues. Linkedin is a good resource for finding relevant contacts.

Think about your long-term goals

Where do you want to be in five years' time? Do you love the idea of working with children and have a rapport with young people? If so, a job in children's nursing could be your true vocation. Are you a natural born leader with an ability to inspire and motivate others? If so, you should consider moving into a team leader or managerial nursing role.

See the bigger picture

Remember, changing to a different nursing role is not just about new challenges and a new working environment. It could mean different hours, shift patterns, career development opportunities, training requirements, etc. Make sure you think everything through, so that you go in with your eyes wide open.

Don't burn your bridges

Right now you may feel that the change you make is guaranteed to be a permanent one. But it's wise never to say 'never'. Anyone can make a mistake and regret a career move, so it's a good idea to stay in touch with your former colleagues and senior nursing staff, just in case you have second thoughts. 

We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your nursing career.