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How to Sustain Your Nursing Career

Being a nurse is one of the most selfless and giving of career choices. It’s a job that requires compassion, dedication and commitment. But, like all careers, a nursing career also requires maintenance.

Sustaining A Nursing Career

Once you’ve earned your degree and committed your life to nursing, you will want to make the most of that career choice. Here are five ways to sustain your nursing career.

Continue learning – Most states require Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses to take continuing education units (CEU) to maintain their certification. According to, these requirements can be as high as 30 CEUs every two years. If you have to take CEUs to keep your license, and even if you don’t, don’t think of it as a requirement to simply get out of the way as quickly as possible. Embrace it as a true learning opportunity. By continuing to study, you will keep yourself on the cutting edge of your profession. You will not only keep your existing job interesting by continually updating your skills, you will also be positioning yourself for possible advancement.

Keep an up-to-date resume – Nursing is one of the most secure employment fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the demand for Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses is growing at a rate of 22% annually. That’s much faster than the national average job-growth rate in other career areas. Demand for Registered Nurses is growing at a whopping 26%. You may feel that with so high of a demand, your job is secure, and it probably is. But, there is another reason to keep your resume up to date: professional growth. Staying in one position too long can be both personally and professionally stifling. By keeping your resume up to date, you keep a clear focus on your own career milestones, and you’re also ready to make a career change if the opportunity presents itself.

Document your achievements – Tracking your professional achievements is important both professionally and personally. According to a forum-based discussion summarized by the U.S National Library of Medicine, documenting career achievements is an important part of maintaining your career marketability. When it comes time to ask for a raise or to apply for a new position, documentation of your achievements will stand you in good stead. Personally, the list will remind you of all that you have accomplished during your nursing career.

Maintain a personal life – Not many jobs are as stressful as nursing. You may be required to face life and death issues on a daily basis. You, more than anyone, need to learn how to leave your job behind when you head home. While being compassionate is a necessary part of a successful nursing career, you also need to shield yourself from the emotional drain of becoming too involved in your patients’ lives. Find ways to let go of job concerns when you are off duty. Imagine leaving all those concerns in your uniform, for example. They come off when you change clothes at the end of the day, and they can be picked up again when you dress for work the next morning. Immerse yourself in distracting activities as well. Involve yourself in hobbies, your pets or the lives of your friends and family. By doing this, your off time will be a refreshing break it was intended to be, and you will be a better nurse when you return to work.

Avoid burnout – There are many career paths for someone with a nursing degree. Some of them are much more stressful than others – working in an emergency room, for example, or with cancer patients. If you want a long-term nursing career, you will need to avoid burnout. If you are working in a particularly stressful field, consider changing careers. Less stressful nursing career options include nurse advocate, childbirth educator, private physician nurse, or even school nurse. Conversely, if you feel that your job is too sedate, and you are not making any real difference in the lives of your patients, then consider taking a job that will make you feel challenged and useful.

Always remember, you will not be able to take care of others if you do not take care of yourself and your career. Following these tips will keep your career alive both professionally and personally.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

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