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We as nurses want to see our profession thrive and be prepared for the future. We as individuals can take actions that will lead to advancements in nursing as a whole. These steps on their own may not seem like much, but the following can lead to long-term change and elevate the profession.
Belong to Associations
Attending chapter meetings not only helps nurses stay current with new issues and topics, it also helps with networking. Networking is so valuable not only for camaraderie, but also for future jobs or references. Not sure which association to join? You can find your state’s nursing association and corresponding website through the American Nurses Association. Many associations are now holding online or virtual meetings so networking and participation is still possible. Even belonging to associations in one’s personal life lead to socializing and can prevent career burnout.
Continue Your Education
Stay up to date within your specialty – CEUs for RN license renewals are not sufficient. Take courses or go to seminars (check if your employer reimburses). As with nursing associations, education courses are now online and attendance dates and times may be flexible. Sigma Nursing has a web page with links to nursing specialty associations. Another way to make progress within the education realm is to advance your degree. Whatever you decide, be it learning a new skill or obtaining a new degree, either option is a valuable investment in yourself and your nursing career. In the long run, you are advancing the profession by your additional knowledge and by being a well-rounded nurse.
Mentor New Nurses
Mentoring can mean on-the-job or more formally through a college or vo-tech school. By teaching what we know, the mentor actually learns more through questions, explaining procedures and processes. Some facilities have programs that train the mentor. Others utilize the facility’s clinical educator as a resource for mentors. We must remember that we’ve all been “the new nurse.” Some of us have had positive experiences and others, not so much. Mentoring is crucial in bringing the next generation of nurses to practice. Mentoring can be fulfilling, especially once the new nurse “graduates” to being on his or her own.
Are you concerned about staffing ratios or other issues you’re facing on the job? Make the policy makers aware. If we don’t communicate our concerns or issues, nothing will change with the ways things are done. Letters to those in congress or governors can focus on concerns within your state or the county as a whole. If you’re unsure how to craft a letter, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has a user-friendly template that nurses can use. The template’s wording is geared toward advanced practice nurses but can easily be tailored to any nurse. This is especially important with upcoming elections, which could lead to the state of the nation’s health being in limbo. Nurses are in a perfect position to speak up to help create changes in policies that would better the profession and health care as a whole.
Continue to Project a Professional Image
Throughout the day we take for granted who sees us…the public, peers, our families. Nurses have been named the most trusted profession for 18 consecutive years for good reason. The public trusts nurses for their knowledge, compassion, and ethics. Nurses must continue to uphold our reputation and our code of ethics to keep those who are ill safe. Although the code of ethics for nurses is not legally binding, nurses should be familiar with the attributes and strive to embody them daily in their practice. Another area to be mindful of is our social media presence. Even though we may be posting personal photos or opinions, if we list the name of our workplace and/or what we do, we are still being linked with the nursing profession.
In Donna Cardillo’s book, The Ultimate Career Guide for Nurses, many additional tips are reviewed. She recommends the concept of career management. This does not just refer to finding a new job, but rather, ongoing maintenance of one’s profession. By maintaining our individual nursing practice, we in turn elevate the profession. A part of maintaining our individual practice is self-care and recognizing our strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. Nurses must realize that by keeping up with our self-care and addressing burnout, we can give more of ourselves and further build up the profession.
Thoughts to Take Away
There are multiple ways to elevate the profession. We discussed that nurses can advance their education or skills, write to those in congress, become involved in associations, and project professionalism. Nurses can also contribute to the greater good by mentoring. The most important piece of advice: get involved! By speaking up and making our voices heard, the profession can flourish for centuries to come.