Nursing is one of the most challenging yet rewarding careers one can have, and those who excel in the field are renowned for their exceptional knowledge, skills, interpersonal skills, and natural empathy. However, as rewarding and varied as the career is, it’s not uncommon for nurses to want to move on and take their career to the next level. Outside of hospitals, there is a wide range of settings where nurses can use their healthcare skills and take on more responsibility. If you are just starting out in your nursing career and considering your future or are ready to take the next step in your career, here are six key steps to help you.

Make a Career Plan

The first step is to work out what it is that you want to achieve in your career. This way, you’ll be able to work backwards and map out the steps you need to take to get there. Your ambition could be being a director of nursing, or you may wish to specialize in a particular area of nursing. Once you have your career envisioned, you can begin to make it a reality.

Continue Your Education

Nurses are required to meet CME educational standards throughout their career, but if you can find the time, it’s a very good idea to study for additional qualifications. This will not only broaden your knowledge and skills but will also show your superiors that you are committed to excellence and have ambition to progress. Consider specializing in a particular field of nursing and gaining the appropriate accreditation or qualification. This could be in emergency medicine or pediatric nursing, but extending your knowledge can only improve your skill set and make you a more attractive candidate when the opportunity for progression arises.


Nursing is a busy profession, so this is easier said than done, but working voluntarily now and again can help when building a career. Some nurses even travel abroad to volunteer where their skills are needed most. If you have the opportunity to take on some extra responsibility, doing so will show you are willing to go the extra mile and manage your time effectively.

Consider Working as a Traveling Nurse

For people who are not tied to a specific location, you might want to consider becoming a traveling nurse. This means you would travel to lots of different places where you can try several specialties, new colleagues, and a wider variety of patients. You’ll gain excellent experience and will be better informed about the type of nursing you’d like to focus on in the future.

Become a Member of a Professional Organization

Professional memberships are great opportunities to not only give your resume a boost but also to make connections with others in the healthcare industry. Networking in this way could be vital both now when trying to broaden your knowledge and experience and in the future, when looking for new opportunities. There are several organizations to consider from the more general American Nurses Association to ones which focus on a particular field of nursing.

Build a Positive Reputation

Finally, it’s crucial to both the success of your current career and your future advancement that you build a positive professional reputation with patients and peers. This means not only being positive in your attitude but also maintaining patient confidentiality and being honest and respectful at all times. Your ethics as a nurse are the foundation of your training and should continue to be so throughout your career progression.


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