The age-old proverb, “don't put all of your eggs in one basket,” is indeed relevant to nursing. There is wisdom in diversifying your skillset, knowledge base, and professional networks. Not only will you enliven your career, but you will also pave the road to success in future professional endeavors as your needs, interests, and life circumstances change. Being “diverse” does not necessarily mean stepping away from a beloved role or specialty, only that you can find value in enriching your career in other strategic ways. You will become more nimble as a nurse and better prepared to take whatever path you desire going forward.
How do you begin? Become an expert at something. The choice is yours. Perhaps it is a particular skill, such as dysrhythmia interpretation, a patient condition such as head trauma, or even your current specialty practice. Start with a narrow focus and build on your expertise with study, time, and experience. Learn as much as you can. Read current evidence-based nursing and interdisciplinary literature. Subscribe to blogs, attend conferences, view webcasts, and listen to podcasts to gain knowledge and insights. Begin to network with experts in the field. Join a professional organization that shares a common focus. Go back to school to continue your education if an advanced degree will ultimately complement your goals.
Compare the current practice within your workplace to the latest standards and look for opportunities to raise the bar. You may be asked to join or lead a unit-based or systemwide workgroup to change existing policies and protocols. All the while, you can gain credibility as a subject-matter expert. Demonstrate your willingness to teach and mentor others. Learn and incorporate evidence-based leadership and teaching techniques into your practice so that you also perform these functions exceptionally well and with humility within your role context.
Next, consider presenting a staff development session or a lecture at a hospital-based conference. Seek honest feedback to constantly develop and refine your presentation abilities. Go on the road with a poster or podium presentation at a regional or national conference when you feel ready.
Of course, as a nursing author and editor, I feel compelled to encourage you to publish as well. Publishing will expand your reach and immortalize your work.
Stoke the flames that inspire your passion for nursing. Take the next steps to enrich your career!
Until next time,
LINDA LASKOWSKI-JONES, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, NEA-BC, FAWM, FAAN