No matter the career field you pursue, it’s crucial to come up with your own professional development goals. You may change some of these goals as you reassess them every few years to ensure they’re aligned with your overall life goals, but having goals set in place is the foundation of your potential success.
What is professional development for nurses?
In 1985, the Journal for Nurses in Staff Development was first published. Only four years later, it was incorporated with the National Nursing Staff Development Organization, which is now known as the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD). Throughout the 1990s, there was a massive increase in nursing professional development (NPD) activity and publications, and in 2016, ANPD defined NPD as:
A specialized nursing practice that facilitates the professional role development and growth of nurses and other healthcare personnel along the continuum from novice to expert.
Professional development in any line of work tends to evolve as time passes, and the specialty of nursing is no different. This is largely due to the rapid technological advancements that have occurred over the past few decades. As technology and diagnosis and treatment capabilities continue to become more advanced, so do professional development goals for nurses.
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Professional development goals for nurses
No doubt about it, a lot of us have a strong desire to advance in our careers, but when we take a second to reflect, there’s only a blurry picture of what we see ourselves doing in the future. Some of us may not know the exact job title we want to achieve, and there’s a lot of us with no solid plans in place to help us develop on a professional basis. This is why nurses NEED to create professional development goals for themselves.
When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to choose ones that YOU want to achieve. Don’t think about what everyone else wants you to do.
Also, keep in mind that professional development isn’t necessarily all about the money, but do remember that when advancing professionally, you usually get opportunities to make more money. So, if you prefer to advance as far as you can go with financial gain being your primary motivator, then definitely take a look at salary estimates for nurses in your specialty and at different locations. You may find that part of your professional development goals require you to move to a new location, and it’s important to prepare for these kinds of changes as early as possible in your career so you can eventually get settled.
Some of the more common professional development goals that nurses set for themselves are:
- Acquire advanced technology skills
- Maintain continuing education unit (CEU) requirements
- Refine interpersonal skills
- Hone specific skill set to mastery/expert level
- Take a management position
- Obtain professional certifications
Creating a nursing professional development plan
Nurses benefit extensively from a professional development plan. This is mostly because the industry’s highest-performing organizations show great favor to those with verification of their advanced skill sets (and there is much assessment and verification of skills made during professional development).
A nurse can begin their professional development plan as soon as they like. The earlier a nurse starts in his or her career with professional development, the greater the possibilities become.
When creating a professional development plan for nurses, you can use the following example plan to work from:
1. List your goals
- Goal 1: Become nursing department manager
- Goal 2: Advance technology skills
- Goal 3: Attend all work-related celebrations
- Goal 4: Complete CEU requirements for license renewal
2. Keep an eye out for new professional development opportunities for nurses
- Opportunity 1: Legal consulting
- Opportunity 2: Travel nursing
3. Determine minimum requirements for each goal
- Minimum requirements Goal 1
- Minimum requirements Goal 2
- Minimum requirements Goal 3
- Minimum requirements Goal 4
4. Research NPD resources/programs for each goal
- Speak with coworkers for program/resource references
- Check with employer for program/resource references
- Look online for programs/resources
- Ensure resources/programs meet approval requirements
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Professional development for nurses can take your nursing career to places you never thought possible. From entering new nursing specialities to managing more than a hundred nurses as a facility supervisor, your nursing career possibilities are as wide open as you make them.
No matter the professional development plan you put into place, you’ll need to maintain an active nursing license to achieve your goals. Check out these free nursing CEUs to get you started on meeting your state’s CEU requirements.