A framework for success in nursing

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Last month I wrote “Fueling the Passion for Nursing” (Nursing2017, May) and offered advice on enabling the success of our newest nursing colleagues through support and mentoring. In this same spirit, I'm passing along the sage advice that my very first nurse manager imparted to me as a new graduate more than 30 years ago. These three actions gave me a solid framework for building a successful nursing career. This advice is applicable to everyone—no matter your career tenure—and has withstood the test of time. I hope you find it as valuable in your own career as I've found it in mine.
Join a professional organization. As part of active membership, professional organizations typically offer journals, conferences, resources, and networking through blogs, committees, special projects, and membership events. You can choose a generalist organization that supports the nursing profession across a wide range of practice settings, such as the American Nurses Association. Or, you could focus on an organization that's related to your specialty, such as medical/surgical nursing, emergency nursing, pediatrics, or critical care nursing. You can also elect to join both types of organizations—there's really no limit. Of course you'll pay dues, but the amount is usually well within a range that's affordable for most nurses. Active membership confers a myriad of opportunities for connection, education, and professional growth.
Become certified in your specialty. Specialty certification validates that you possess a defined body of knowledge and demonstrates a commitment to professional excellence. Investigate the certification options and requirements. Some certifications, such as the CCRN, carry a defined practice requirement to ensure that you have the necessary clinical experience before you sit for the exam. Once you've met the prerequisites, studying for the test might seem daunting, but the learning that occurs translates into enhanced knowledge and better informed clinical practice.
Continue your education. This advice ultimately motivated me to pursue my master's degree in nursing. Whether or not you decide to pursue one or more formal degrees following graduation, a commitment to lifelong learning is key to remaining current in evidence-based practice and is a cornerstone of professionalism. Science evolves. It's our duty and obligation to keep our knowledge base up to date.
I hope this advice serves you well, no matter where your professional journeys take you.
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