Happy Nurses Week to my fellow nurses! Amid the festivities and remembrance of the profession’s history, Nurses Week is a great time to reflect and think about the future…namely, the next few months of your career.
This year’s theme, “Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health,” is an important topic to consider and introspectively determine how you will live up to this responsibility in the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Now is the time to continually look forward and imagine new possibilities! Here are four pieces of advice to help advance your career and enhance the field of healthcare for years to come:
1. Learn positive discontentment. The world will not be what it is today if everyone remains comfortable and content with their careers and skill sets. Instead, your frame of mind should be, “What’s the next challenge I need to prepare for?” Positive discontentment means that you never resort to complacency and that you can always find opportunities to improve your practice in the world of nursing and patient care. In the words of Florence Nightingale, “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”
2. Practice “no excuse” career development. There are thousands of reasons why you shouldn’t advance your career and be content where you are. However, these are all excuses that are causing you to stay, well, right where you are. People who practice living with excuses are the ones who not only don’t move forward, but they actually move backward. Sheryl Sandberg asks in her book, Lean In, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That’s a good question to ask yourself regarding your future.
3. Talk about your work in measurable outcomes. As the world of healthcare moves from process to accountability for achieving outcomes and reimbursement based on value, justifying the value of our work becomes more important. It’s one thing to have a plan, but without measurement in this new era of healthcare, we will not be able to explain our worth. Developing expertise with measurement is essential for career development. This includes measuring financial outcomes as well as clinical outcomes.
4. Become agile with technology. Technology in healthcare, and in general, is growing at an incredibly fast pace. The world of nursing and informatics has evolved rapidly as technology has invaded the healthcare industry in many forms, from electronic health records (EHRs) in the hospital to patients regularly accessing mobile health tools. Without this expertise, you will find it difficult to grow in your nursing career.
Nurses have very special gifts that we bring to the world of healthcare, and National Nurses Week is a distinctive time to reflect on how well we are using these gifts as a resource for our patients’ health and as force for change.
Dr. Karlene M. Kerfoot, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is currently the chief clinical integration officer at API Healthcare. She has held a variety of positions in nursing and patient care administration, clinical practice, healthcare consulting and adjunct academic positions in nursing, MHA and MBA programs. Kerfoot has been the corporate chief nursing and patient care officer at three of the largest healthcare systems in the country. She earned a doctorate in nursing from the University of Illinois and a master’s and BSN from the University of Iowa. She has published over 300 articles and speaks nationally and internationally.