How to prepare for the evolution of your nursing career before graduation

Nursing students take notes in a lecture

How to prepare for the evolution of your nursing career before graduation

Before you graduate with a Master of Science in Nursing, you can start thinking about how your career evolution will go. There are lots of ways to gain experience, so think ahead and get an idea of what to focus on as you study. Your skills at planning, taking part in good courses and prioritizing can all be a part of what future – or current – employers come to know about you.

The job search

You can start by knowing how best to search for jobs, especially if you plan to leave your current employer for a different nursing position. Begin with as clear an idea of what you want from your next job as possible. You may want to look at your resume and cover letter to emphasize the traits possible employers might be most interested in.

Here are some ideas about what to focus on when you’re trying to get to noticed.

  • Availability: Being able to work when your dream employer will need you could be an asset as you begin applying. Figure out which schedule you would be most adaptable to and base your search around this. Get to know the expectations of the employer and decide what type of work you can take on, as well as how much. The place you decide to work might have extra shifts that can also fit your schedule.
  • Experience: Real-world knowledge and skills show a level of interest that can set you apart. Whether you’ve worked in your chosen specialty before or already have a wealth of general nursing knowledge, put your relevant traits forward for the possible employer to see.
  • Interest: One potentially useful piece of advice is to show your employer your level of interest in the position. You can do this by researching beforehand and getting to know the staff, so you begin your business relationship demonstrating how prepared you are. As the hiring process goes on, the recruiter or management staff could see your persistence as a real asset.

What position to choose?

As a nurse preparing to hone your focus into a long-term specialty, you have some choice over what position you want to go after. Do some diligent research and you may be able to pinpoint a worthwhile position for you, perhaps even learning about new opportunities at the same time.

The role of Clinical Nurse Leader, for example, is a relatively recent one to gain attention and can be a fulfilling one with a healthy salary to boot. Nurse Journal said that the average median salary for this job is $84,000 per year, and referenced data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics explaining that the wages could continue to get higher over the next five years.

Factoring that and the potential for advancement into the equation could make the prospects for this position especially strong if you find any open jobs in the field. The source said that some of the other jobs a Clinical Nurse Leader can open up include Clinical Administrator, Liaison or Nurse Manager employment.

Whatever position you choose, you may want to study it and find the expected future for the program. You may also want to search for some sort of gateway or internship that will help you take your first steps into this field while you are still studying. Finding programs that help work with your schedule, as with the USF online Master of Science in Nursing degree, can be useful for balancing your existing nursing career and further education.

Temporary work

A great boon of being a graduate student is your ability to take work with a limited date while you still can. Finding a position that has a set period of time can work with your own schedule when you’re still heading to the completion of your degree. You may want to know more about what the medical temp work laws and norms of the states you plan to work in are before you begin.

This could be a good idea in part due to the changing nature of the nursing sector. The Atlantic wrote about this phenomenon last year, and an associate professor of nursing Julie Sochalski spoke to the source about the rise of demand in the face of aging nurses and patients. These kinds of changing trends tend to take time, and Sochalski described why more nurses would be important for the current patient population.

“People with chronic diseases clearly use more health-care services, and people who are older have more chronic disease,” Sochalski said. “The aging population and chronic disease are creating the perfect storm driving demand for nurses.”
With that demand present, it’s possible that you might be able to help different care centers by filling in when temporary positions open up. The way employers react and how you can help out could, of course, depend on what the local patient population is like, The Atlantic said, so if there’s extra time, you can use that as a chance to start gaining important experience.

Get ready for that interview

Practice your interview skills and be sure to tailor them for the kind of facility you plan to apply to. This is especially necessary if you’ve been in your current position for an extended period of time. The Guardian recently interviewed several nursing recruiters about the questions that can come up and the best ways to respond.

A matron from London’s Royal Marsden Hospital, Ann Duncan, explained the responses to the question “What makes a good shift?” that she wants to hear from prospective applicants in an interview.

“We want to hear about the delivery of safe, effective care, and we want it to be documented and evidenced,” Duncan said. “We don’t want them to believe that high numbers of staff always equates to the best care. Some days, you will be short, but that doesn’t mean they are the worst shifts.”

Though this is only one person’s opinion, it can suggest a few more of the habits you can use while you’re earning higher education experience:

  • Determination and planning: With a mind for where you plan to go, you can present yourself professionally and come across as a strong, determined contender in future interviews. Using a confident, continuous career as the baseline for your other achievements will support the argument that you are ready.
  • Getting records: The time you log, the connections you make and the things you accomplish while you’re earning your degree can all be part of what makes you hireable if you have hard data to present.
  • Varied experience: As Duncan said, the reality of nursing can be complicated, and you can appeal to this by gaining a diverse amount of time on the job and seeing several different “types” of shifts. You could approach this by looking for specific opportunities that fill in any gaps in your experience. You may also want to specifically seek out different nursing roles that aren’t attracting as much attention to show that you’re willing to think outside the box.

The University of San Francisco’s online Master of Science in Nursing program can fit your busy schedule and ready you for a future career. Send for your free program brochure to find out more.

Recommended Readings:

Taking the next step in your nursing career

What is a CNL?


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