By Tyler Faust, R.N.
In last week's blog post, we have discussed three of the most valuable experiences that you could pursue right away, but there are many more. If you don’t currently have the opportunity to become a charge nurse, join a committee, or fix a problem on your unit, there are other opportunities you can pursue. Although these experiences might not strengthen your resume as much as the aforementioned, the following experiences can be opportunities for you to network, learn, and develop skills that you otherwise wouldn’t. Here is a list of other valuable experiences to consider:
Attend a nursing conference
Nursing conferences are great for learning about the latest and greatest within a particular field or specialty. Attending relevant conferences shows that you take your career seriously and that you recognize the need for on-going learning. Additionally, you could have opportunities to bring back what you learned to present it to your unit. Hospitals and departments often have funds set aside for staff to attend conferences so you can go for free!
Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization showcases your commitment to that line of work or specialty. Every specialty has at least one professional organization. For the more general specialties, there are often multiple national organizations to choose from and usually local organizations as well. Organizations often host conferences and allow for valuable networking and information sharing to occur. Learn to speak the language of your specialty on a new level and impress the hiring manager when interviewing for a new position.
Become a preceptor
Given the nature of nursing and the amount of turnover the field experiences, training and educating staff is of utmost importance. Staff are constantly coming in and going out of units. Every time a new position gets filled, the new staff member needs training. A good preceptor is highly valuable to a nurse manager. Becoming a preceptor on your unit will mean that you are experienced in your practice and possess the ability to teach. You will also get additional training on how to be a nurse preceptor, making you more valuable than someone who has never been a nurse preceptor.
Become a unit Wellness Champion
This is an opportunity for any nurse, including relatively new nurses who are passionate about healthy living in the workplace. If you enjoy a healthy lifestyle and excel at it, consider bringing your skills to your unit and helping to improve the health of the staff on your unit. A Wellness Champion will help to coordinate activities and promote healthy habits. This could be having a steps competition or healthy eating challenge. This is a good way to learn how to lead, communicate, and promote health on your unit. Given that nurses often struggle with maintaining their health due to rotating shifts, lack of sleep, work stress, and a multitude of other things, these skills are valuable to a hiring manager.
Have a conversation with your manager
One could not possibly list every opportunity that might be afforded to you as a nurse. Your nurse manager is the person to talk to about what options are available to you. Don’t be afraid to start small and increase as time goes on. It’s not often that a nurse will come to their manager looking for additional opportunities to grow and learn. That in and of itself will set you apart. See what options are on your unit that your manager would support and pick the one that’s a good fit.
Experiences play an enormous role in deciding whom to hire. Not only are these experiences often enjoyable and challenging but they help to grow you professionally in ways you’d never expect or experience otherwise. Seek out these experiences so that when you're ready for a career move, you’ll be among the top candidates.
Tyler Faust is a full-time registered nurse and part-time freelance healthcare writer. He has his BSN and Master's degree and Winona State University and has worked at Mayo Clinic for over 7 years. Currently, he works as a nurse manager. Tyler is a creative thinker, strategist, and passionate about leadership.