How to Achieve Your Long-Term Nursing Goals

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Nursing student studying

Where do you see yourself in five years? This isn’t just a question that future employers will be asked to assess your drive and interests; it’s something that all professional nurses should think about. Many registered nurses are seeking ways to set themselves apart in this growing field, one way to do that is to advance your career as a professional nurse. Earning an MSN degree is a great way to advance your nursing career and find a specialty within nursing that you’re interested in.

To determine where you might be in five years, it will be important to set long-term goals and establish objectives to guide you throughout your nursing career. There are a few steps that you can take to achieve your long-term nursing goals, here are 4:

1. Have a Clear Vision

Take a minute to remember your initial motivations for being a nurse. What career aspirations did you have when you first began your nursing career?  If your current role seems like a platform to something else, what can you do to get to where you want to be? These considerations will help form your goals and provide a clear career roadmap. For example, if you want to gain more expertise in specialized areas, what steps must be taken to achieve this target?

If you’re not sure what you want to do, you can still create actionable goals to advance your career. Some people prefer to write down these benchmarks in order to stay organized and on track. Creating a list of goals will help you understand your interests and strengths and align your objectives with those specific traits.  Your goals should be SMART.






For example, you might look to learn how to use an intravenous fusion pump within a week. This specificity anchors your goals to a particular schedule and is easily achievable.

Differentiate Yourself

To achieve your long-term goals and open up future career opportunities, it will be important to set yourself apart from your peers. One direct way to do this is to become trusted and well-respected within your current job. Individuals who provide excellent service and consistently work hard are highly sought-after and often earn recognition from their superiors. These characteristics can help you become a leading candidate for new opportunities that arise.

Building a solid network will be essential to helping you stand out and further your goals. Nursing professionals should look to foster as many positive relationships as possible. These connections can be forged within your facility as well as within communities and national associations designed to connect nurses. Teaming up with a more experienced mentor will help you grow and learn the necessary skills to keep up with emerging techniques. A mentor can also be a key ally when applying for a new position.

Specialization in a field can also help move closer toward long-term goals. If you have a specialty in mind, find out what type of training and skills are necessary to get into that practice area. Using mentors and connections in that field can reveal what steps must be taken and any advice needed to reach your objective.

Earn Your MSN Degree

A bachelor’s degree can open the door for entry-level positions, but a Master of Science in Nursing can provide a number of opportunities to grow in your career. In fact, most unit management and supervisory jobs require an MSN degree, according to Obtaining this degree can yield a number of significant benefits and help you reach your long-term nursing goals.

An MSN grants a greater number of career choices. On the job, an MSN proves that you can work with less supervision and are capable of making critical decisions, according to Nurse Journal. Earning an MSN may grant you additional benefits outside of reaching your long-term nursing goals. For example, nurses with their MSN can usually expect an increase to base salary or the possibility of bonuses.

Registered nurse professionals should look into MSN programs to learn how they can improve their skills and meet future needs. In fact, it may someday be required for registered nurses to work toward an MSN degree to retain their license, Nurse Journal stated. There are also more program options than ever, enabling nurses to obtain their degree while still working. Specialty concentrations, such as those offered by the Duquesne University Master of Science in Nursing online program, can be done completely online. This will allow you to keep your current work and family commitments while pursuing higher education.

Setting your long-term nursing goals can be a major motivator for your career prospects. By establishing a clear vision, looking into certifications, differentiating yourself, and pursuing an MSN degree, you will take a significant step toward your objectives. Look for opportunities to learn and challenge yourself to keep up on new patient care techniques. This lifelong mindset to expanding knowledge will provide a precedent for constant improvement and goal advancement. Reaching your long-term nursing goals doesn’t stop at earning your MSN, as a nurse, part of your job is continuous learning, earning your MSN is just one step of the process.

Look into Certifications

Becoming certified demonstrates that you have expert knowledge in a particular field and can help to improve patient satisfaction and lower error rates across the board. As the number of registered nurses with certifications increases, it will be important to obtain these credentials to fill specialty needs, remain competitive, and meet long-term goals.

When you’re interested in a specialty, there are three online Post-Master’s Certificates offered at Duquesne:

  1. Family Nurse Practitioner: The FNP program is offered full-time or part-time, and trains nurses for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) exam or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner exam.
  2. Forensic Nursing: Forensic nurse career outcomes include sexual assault nurse, nurse coroner, nurse investigator, and more. This certification is recognized by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
  3. Nursing Education and Faculty Role: This certificate program educates nurses on current trends and modern evolutions in nursing, in order to best serve future generations of students. Career outcomes include clinical faculty members, online educators, lab directors, or higher education faculty members. The certifying body is the Certification for Nurse Educators – National League for Nursing.

Pursuing certification will help you gain the skills necessary for a specialty and open up new career opportunities.

About Duquesne’s Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

The Duquesne University School of Nursing is top-ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. The MSN program offers three areas of specialization: Forensic Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education and Faculty Role.

Sources, “4 steps for taking charge of your career”, “Goal Setting in Nursing”, “Nurse Manager Salary and Career Opportunities”
Nurse Together, “6 Tips to Keep Your Network Strong and Boost Your Nursing Career”
Nurse Journal, “25 Reasons Why To Get a Masters in Nursing”
Nurse Journal, “5 Most Common Types of Nursing Certifications You Should Have”