25+ Examples of SMART Goals for Nurses


SMART goals are an excellent tool for both nursing students and nurses. Many people use SMART goals for several different things. It is not just a goal-setting system used by nurses.

Smart goals for nurses

Once you learn the SMART system and figure out your goals and set them, you will learn as you go what goals are important to you and which ones you can accomplish without causing yourself a great deal of stress. 

In this article, you will learn what SMART goals are and how you can use them to set your nursing career goals as a student and as a nurse. Further, there will be over 25 examples of SMART goals for nurses to stimulate your creativity. You can choose one of these goals to get you started or come up with your own!

Contents

What Are SMART Goals in Nursing

Goal setting is an integral part of your career. SMART goals are a great way to ensure that you evolve as a nurse and continuously improve, whether improving your nursing skills or advancing in your field. 

Setting your goals the SMART way will help you consistently achieve your goals and set you up for success. This method provides you with the tools to turn your intentions from daydreams into actionable steps that you can work on every day. 

Let’s take a closer look at the SMART system and how it works. 

SMART is an acronym that stands for five attributes that make a goal more predictable and complete. 

  • Specific: This goal includes one clearly defined area. Don’t leave any questions unanswered. 
  • Measurable: For any goal to be successful, there must be a way to keep track of the progress. Include measurable data, such as dates and specific numbers.
  • Attainable: Goals should be challenging but also reachable.
  • Realistic: Make sure the nursing goals you set are within your abilities. 
  • Timely: Set reasonable deadlines.

If you are already familiar with the SMART goal technique, simply skip this part and jump straight to the 25+ examples! 

Now that you know what the acronym SMART stands for, let’s dive deeper into the process. How do you use the SMART goal system? 

The SMART formula is your plan, your blueprint to assure that you can reach your goal. 

Let’s look at each part of the acronym a little closer. 

Specific: 

Being specific about your goal forces you to come up with a plan. Ask yourself questions about your goal and try to answer them in great detail. 

  • Explain your “why” about your goal. Why do you want to accomplish that goal? For example, why do you want to become a nurse practitioner? 
  • What is necessary to accomplish this goal? What are the requirements to reach that goal? What classes do you have to take to become a nurse practitioner? What are the admission requirements of different programs? What does your financial situation look like? 
  • Where are you in your nursing career, and where do you want to be? Where do you work now as a nurse, and how does it help you in your career? Do you have to change locations to accomplish your goal? 

Measurable:

This component helps you keep track of your progress. Making your goal measurable allows you to see whether you are on track or if changes are necessary. It will enable you to pivot and intervene early to stay on course to reach your nursing goals. There are many ways to keep track of your goals. Pick one that works for you: 

  • Checklist: Remember, your goal needs to be specific, so it should have steps that lead to its accomplishment. When you complete the first goal, you can do something as simple as a checkmark next to the item.
  • Calendar: You can easily keep track of your progress by taking a quick look at your calendar, not as exciting or colorful as a checklist but indeed easy enough to see your progress.
  • Whiteboard: Use colorful markers and track your progress using a whiteboard, be sure to put the whiteboard in a place where you can see it every day. 

Attainable

You should be able to reach your goals. But they also should be challenging. Start with a small plan and work your way toward bigger and more challenging goals.

One good question to ask yourself is: Has this been accomplished before? If someone else has reached this goal, you can do it too. Depending on your situation, it might take you longer, or it might be more challenging, but you know it can be done. 

Look deep within when setting your goal; you know how long it takes you to do certain things and after careful consideration, if you believe your goal is realistic, then get to work on setting it up and following through with it.

Realistic:

Having realistic goals is a significant factor when it comes to goal-setting in your nursing career. Ask yourself, is your goal attainable within your skills and abilities. What factors in your life are not in your control that might change your plans?  

Note that this component of the SMART principle is the most fluid one. You might have to revisit this part often. Your life circumstances change as time goes on. What might have worked for you at one point might not be relevant anymore at another point in time.

Timley:

If your goal does not have a time factor, it’s more a dream or a wish rather than a goal that has the potential to become real. Make sure you add a time frame to your nursing goal to remind yourself that it will become a reality one day. 

Patient-Centered SMART Goals for Nursing 

Smart goals for nurses

These goals represent the fundamental goals of the nursing profession. Regardless of your path or where you are in your nursing journey, these goals should put you on the right way to a successful career. 

Assessment Skills 

Basic Goal: 

I want to have comprehensive assessment skills.

SMART Goal: 

I will review head-to-toe assessments daily and note the parts I am missing within my time in training. Each time I assess a new patient, I will remember the details that I missed the last time and integrate them into a cohesive, comprehensive assessment. I will consider this goal achieved whenever I missed less than two parts of the entire assessment. 

Patient Safety 

Basic Goal: 

I want to keep my patients safe while they are in my care.

SMART Goal: 

During every bedside report, I will check all aspects that concern my patient’s safety. These things include to check if the patient is wearing an ID band, if the bed alarm is on (in case the patient is a fall risk), if the medication drips infuse at the correct rate, and other aspects that could potentially compromise my patient’s safety. This goal is achieved if no safety events occurred that could have been prevented at the end of my shift. 

Patient Care 

Basic Goal

I want to excel in the way I take care of my patients. 

SMART Goal

Each day I will develop a to-do-list for each patient and follow it considering my patient’s needs and acuity of illness. I will complete my hourly rounding on each patient on time and therefore avoid any delay in care. This goal will be achieved when all my tasks are completed by the end of the shift.

Time Management

Basic Goal

I want to grow my time management skills 

SMART Goal

Each day I will come to work 20 minutes early to prepare for my shift. I will work with a brain sheet that contains all the information about my patients and what I need to do at each time of the day to keep me on track. Each day close to the end of the shift, I will perform a “time-out” to see if I completed all my tasks that were due on my shift. 

Within the first year, I want to be ready for report without any open tasks. 

Patient Perception 

Basic Goal

I want to consider the patient’s point of view. 

SMART Goal:

By the end of every shift, I will ask for feedback about my patients’ day and inquire about improvements to further individualize their care. 

Documentation 

Basic Goal

I want my documentation to be accurate and precise. 

SMART Goal

Every day I will aim to document as close to real-time as I can. The information will be most accurate if it’s fresh in my memory. I want to have all my initial patient assessments documented by 9 am. The goal is achieved when I charted 80% of the day in real-time for all my patients. 

Leadership SMART Goals in Nursing 

Smart goals for nurses

These goals are ideal for nurses in leading positions, such as charge nurse, nurse managers, unit managers, service line directors. 

Basic Goal

I aim to lead as a mentor for my team of nurses.

SMART Goal

I will use my experience and skills to pass on to newer nurses. Every month I will arrange a meeting about my expectations about patient care and other nursing principles. I will perform check-offs by the end of the in-service to ensure the staff understands what is expected of them. I achieved my goal when 100% of the class passed the check-off. 


Basic Goal

I want to improve my interpersonal skills. 

SMART Goal

Once per month, I will provide nursing staff with one-on-one conversations about the unit and things that need improvement. By the end of the week, I try to have the problem resolved. I will request feedback from my staff to see if they consider the reported issues resolved. I will have this goal achieved when all issues have been resolved.


Basic Goal

I want to aim for transparency between my staff and me. 

SMART Goal:

I will gather all staff at least once per month to discuss issues that affect the work environment. I will also provide a note system where nurses can leave notes in a designated place for me to pick up and work through. That way, nurses can stay anonymous with their concerns. 

I will seek to resolve the issue within a month and also ask for feedback from staff. The goal is achieved when all current problems are solved, and 95% of staff reports that they are pleased with the work environment. 

SMART Goals for Nursing Students 

Smart goals for nurses

Basic Goal:

I want to study in the most effective way possible.

SMART Goal:

In the first two months of nursing school, I will identify my learning style and adapt my study methods accordingly. I will integrate my learning style into every study session. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to pass the NCLEX-RN®️ exam on the first try. 

SMART Goal: 

I will dedicate at least 15 minutes every day to complete NCLEX style questions. This will help me become used to the process of answering those types of questions. This goal is accomplished once I pass the test. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to stay healthy throughout nursing school. 

SMART Goal: 

While in nursing school, I will make a conscious decision to make healthy choices every day. I will choose healthy food options over unhealthy ones, get a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night, and stay as active as possible. I consider this goal accomplished if I can follow through 80% of the time. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to be successful in nursing school. 

SMART Goal: 

To get good grades, I will develop an efficient study system that involves daily studying and practice questions. After each test, I will evaluate whether my study techniques worked or if I have to seek help, such as a tutor, or change my study habits. I consider myself successful in nursing school by passing all classes. 

Examples of SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioners

Smart goals for nurses

Basic Goal

I want to educate patients and their families to understand their disease process and the plan of care.

SMART Goal:

While talking to the patient and family, I will be very mindful of using medical terms and asking them to repeat what I explained to them to make sure they understand the information. I will also offer them to ask questions at the end of each conversation. This goal is achieved when the patient can repeat the discussed issues and treatment plan correctly in his or her own words. 


Basic Goal

I want to expand my knowledge base. 

SMART Goal

I will attend seminars at least once per month to educate myself about specific procedures and skills that pertain to my specialty. I have reached my goal by completing one workshop per month. 


Basic Goal

I want to be able to precept nurse practitioner students. 

SMART Goal

After two years of working as a nurse practitioner, I will apply to precept nurse practitioner students. I want to precept at least one student per year. 

SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioner Students 

Smart goals for nurses

Basic Goal: 

I want to pass the board exam on the first try. 

SMART Goal:

I will dedicate 30 minutes every day to study for the exam until taking the test. Once I pass the exam, the goal is achieved.


Basic Goal:

I want to learn how to write notes and dictations. 

SMART Goal:

By the end of the first semester, I will complete a patient note with no assistance. I will dictate at least one patient note per clinical day to improve my dictation skills. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to improve my critical thinking skills. 

SMART Goal:

By the end of the first semester, I will be able to comprehensively assess a patient and consider comorbidities and individual challenges when formulating a plan of care. This goal will be accomplished once I can complete this task without assistance from my instructor. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to improve my skills in lab interpretation as well as diagnostic tests. 

SMART Goal: 

During the first year, I will look at all my patients’ lab values and diagnostic tests. I want to be able to interpret this information correctly with minimal help from my instructor. I will have reached this goal once my interpretation of lab values and diagnostic tests result in a treatment plan that aligns 90% with my instructor’s. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to be able to educate patients about their disease process. 

SMART Goal: 

Within the first semester, I will educate my patients about their disease and explain the recommended treatment plan. I will allow each patient to give feedback and ask questions to understand what I described. I met this goal if my patient can tell me what I explained correctly. 

Personal Nursing Goals 

Smart goals for nurses

Basic Goal: 

I wish to advance in my career 

SMART Goal: 

I will sign up for one or two classes each semester and eventually apply to a bachelor’s program or graduate school. To accomplish this, I will carefully consider my financial situation and family life. I have reached my goal by engaging in a class every semester until reaching the next career milestone. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to balance my personal life and career.

SMART Goal: 

I will spend quality time with friends and family on my days off without engaging in any activities that are connected to my workplace. I will plan to take time off every three months to prevent me from burning out and ensure a work-life balance. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to stay physically healthy throughout my nursing career. 

SMART Goal: 

Every day at work, I will pay attention to use proper body mechanics to avoid injuries. I will incorporate back strengthening exercises into my workout routines and consider my physical limitations at work. The goal will be achieved if I can follow through five out of seven days of the week. 

SMART Goals for Nursing Educators 

Smart goals for nurses

Basic Goal: 

I want all my students to pass the class 

SMART Goal: 

Before each test, I will create a study guide to go over with the students in class. This will help students focus on the most important aspects of the concepts necessary for the test. 


Basic Goal: 

I want students to feel comfortable enough to ask me questions. 

SMART Goal: 

After each class, I will inform students that my office is open for one hour to discuss and clarify the content presented in class on a one-to-one basis. I will also let my students know that I am available via email at all times. I will try to answer questions within 24 hours, so students don’t feel stuck on a problem while studying. 


Basic Goal: 

I want to improve my teaching and presentation skills. 

SMART Goal: 

Each month, I will attend a seminar or course to learn about new teaching practices that improve students’ performance in class. I will introduce one learned teaching method, such as the “flipped classroom,” each month and ask for feedback after class. 

Read Also:

What Does PRN Mean? (Medical Abbreviation and Meaning)

Failing Nursing School? Realistic Advice to Turn Things Around

How to Stay Motivated in Nursing School: 7 Great Tips

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Cathy Yeulet, Dinis Tolipov, fizkes, Weerapat Wattanapichayakul, Wavebreak Media Ltd, ammentorp/ 123RF

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