10 Achievable Examples of Nursing Career Goals


Career goals for nurses

Goals setting is an important part of any career. Whether you are still in nursing school or you already graduated, it is always a good idea to work toward a goal to further your career. 

This article will provide you with nursing career goals examples that you can use for inspiration when planning your own. 

Examples of Professional Goals for Nurses (5 to 10-Year Goals)

Acquire unit-specific certifications 

If you want to work in a specialty such as the ICU or other intensive care units, always be on the lookout for ways to increase your knowledge and credentials. Unit specific certifications tremendously increase your competency levels as a nurse. The more knowledge and skills you acquire, the more valuable you will become. 

Most hospitals will offer these classes in-house. All you need to do is sign up. If you have trouble with and don’t know where to start, you can always talk to your unit educator or unit manager. 

Here are some examples:

  • Critical Care Registered Nurse certification (CCRN) 
  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) 
  • 12 Lead ECG/EKG class 
  • ECG/EKG rhythm class 

Upgrade your nursing competencies 

Every unit in the hospital is somewhat specialized. Become a specialist at what you do by being involved in the procedures your unit has to offer. Are there in-services you could attend? Any check-offs you could get under your belt? Does your unit offer classes to advance your knowledge for specific procedures? 

Take as many classes as possible and shadow other nurses. 

Improve your communication skills 

Nursing is a very interactive profession. Communication is key when it comes to patient care and treatments. Not only do you need excellent communication skills for your patients but co-workers, doctors, and other interdisciplinary team members. 

All these groups of people have different education levels and communication skills. You, as the nurse, have to have the skills to bring them all together. You have to be able to educate patients who don’t have a medical background and communicate with the physician simultaneously. 

Climb the professional ladder

You don’t have to stay at the bedside as a nurse. If you want to step away into a management position, you can start small and work your way up. Most unit managers began their careers at the bedside. 

Start with a charge nurse position. As a charge nurse, you have to be resourceful and handle different issues beyond taking care of a set number of patients. 

You will have to manage staffing, shift schedules, and solve more complicated matters that arise during your shift. The charge nurse’s role is a significant precursor role from that of a unit manager. 

Nurse manager positions require at least five years of nursing experience, and administrative knowledge is a big plus. Some hospitals require a bachelor’s degree while others require a master’s degree. 

A fair amount of responsibility comes with being a nurse manager; something a nurse should consider before applying for a position.

While administrative positions remove the nurse from the bedside and direct patient care, it is still a critical nursing job with a considerable pay raise and bankers’ hours. Many nurses who have families enjoy the idea of an administrative position. 

Related Reading:

25+ Examples of SMART Goals for Nurses

How to Write an Essay on Nursing Career Goals

Earn an advanced degree 

It is always wise to further your career. If you have an associate’s degree, work on a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree allows you to work in magnet status hospitals and also acquire management positions. 

Another option is advanced practice. This path requires either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. This allows the nurse to have a more one on one care relationship with the patient. 

Nurse practitioners can choose almost any specialty they would like, have much better hours, and a very nice pay raise. Some nurses decide to go on to be a physician’s assistant as well or even a doctor. Here are the most common paths for advanced practice:

  • Nurse practitioner 
  • Nurse Anesthetist 
  • Nurse Midwife 
  • Physician Assistant

Maintain a healthy distance 

Many nurses struggle with keeping their nurse life and personal life separate. It is vital to balance your career and your personal life. Maintaining a healthy life outside of work and not being consumed by a job and career has to be a professional goal. 

Being able to balance both career and personal life will help with your nursing career. It will keep you motivated to take on new challenges. 

These career goals are long-standing goals that might take time to accomplish. 

Next are career goals that are achievable much faster. 

Examples of Short-Term Nursing Career Goals 

These kinds of goals are faster to attain. You can usually reach them in less than a year. 

Pass your boards on the first try 

Passing the NCLEX is the most pertinent goal to move forward in your career as a nurse. To practice as a nurse, you have to pass your boards. All other plans build on this achievement. 

The most important thing is that you don’t cram. Start studying early and set up a study plan that gives you enough time to look over all the material and allows for breaks and time to yourself, especially right before the test.

Related Reading: 7 Examples of Leadership Smart Goals in Nursing

Find a great nursing job position 

Landing your first job position is special. Consider the direction you want to take in nursing when deciding between different job opportunities. 

Your first job often won’t be what you imagined, and you would like to move on to a different position. Remember that you will gain experience in any nursing job. Sometimes it may take a while until you land your dream job.

Excel in your preceptorship 

Most training periods span over three months. This is the time to ask as many questions as you can. Your training time is unique because you transition from studying nursing to actually doing it.

This is an excellent short-term goal for a nurse, especially a new grad. It offers a perfect opportunity to show how invested you are in this profession.

Goals like these build an excellent foundation for your long term goals. It takes great effort and resilience to achieve 5 to 10-year nursing career goals. 

Continue to learn every day

Healthcare is an ever-changing and evolving field. Even after your training, there are many opportunities to learn. 

Make learning about your profession a lifelong practice. It’s easy to learn something new in nursing each and every day. That is the reason why this point belongs to the short-term goals in nursing.

Find opportunities every day to learn something new about nursing, and you’ll reach one of your goals every single day.

Image: Cathy Yeulet/123RF

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