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People tend to think of the New Year as a time to ponder—about ourselves, our lives, and our careers. It’s also a great time to think about your personal career goals.

While it may seem difficult during the pandemic to think about what’s next in your nursing career, it’s still important to consider. After all, with the vaccines being administered, there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Kiley Griffin, RN and Andrea Hipolito, both Talent Advocate Leaders at Incredible Health, took time to answer our questions about how nurses can set career goals for themselves.

What are the first steps nurses should take in order to outline their career goals for the New Year? Should they have one, five, and ten-year plans? If not that way, then how?  

Griffin: It’s always important to have career goals and be ready to adjust and adapt given the changes COVID-19 is having on health care. Nurses should continue to outline their goals for the next year as well as long-term—where they want to be in 10 years. COVID-19 will have an impact on health care, and it may create more opportunities for nurses, so identifying future career goals now is important to plan.

Should they be based on their dream jobs, money, educational goals, etc.?

Hipolito: The motivator for why to switch jobs or why to choose a specific job is different for everyone. It is a very personalized decision based on what is important to that person, at that time in their lives. I tell my candidates to take the time to evaluate what terms are most important and why. 

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Suppose they feel overwhelmed don’t know how to start? What are some tips they can use to start defining what they want to do? 

Hipolito: The first step is to figure out not only where you want to be right now, but where do you want to be in 1 year? Or in 5 years? 10 years? Are you comfortable in the role or specialty that you are in now, or do you want to make a change? 

Once you have the answer to those questions, you can choose a facility that aligns with those career goals. For example, you can choose an academic medical center that pays tuition for career advancement and offers a culture of learning if you plan on going back for your BSN or MSN. Or, if you decide that you are settled in where you live and are not looking to relocate, you can find a facility that is close to your home that offers great perks within your community. 

Certain facilities are great at promoting from within so they are a good option for a nurse who is looking to enter into a leadership position as the next step in their career path or switching into a specialty like the OR.

Once they have their overall goals, what should they do then? Come up with a timeline to achieve them? Break each down into manageable pieces?    

Hipolito: Once you have pinpointed what your personal and professional goals are, the next step is to do your research on the facilities in your area (or the area you desire to be in). Go to their websites and visit the “about” and the “career” pages. Check out their mission and values. These resources give great insight into what makes this hospital a place where you would want to work. They highlight the benefits and culture along with any impressive awards or accolades that the hospital is known for. 

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Don’t fall into desperation mode and choose the first offer that comes along. Be patient and flexible with your timeline for the right position.

What are the biggest mistakes nurses should be aware of when they begin to outline their careers?   

Hipolito: Being money motivated sometimes excludes nurses from fantastic opportunities to advance their career or live a happier and more fulfilled life. When it comes to career satisfaction, there is more involved than money alone. The culture of the facility, the alignment of the facilities mission and values with your own, and work/life balance are very important factors in choosing one’s “dream job.”

Is there anything else important for our readers to know?

Griffin: Goals need preparation. Work on your resume and cover letters. Practice interviewing skills so that when you do find your dream job, you will be confident and prepared. Obtain any certifications or qualifications that will help you achieve your career goals. Network and seek out opportunities in the specialty or field you want to be in and use other nurses as resources and support.

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