Because opportunities abound throughout a nursing career, nurses may experience a little “career disorientation” throughout their working life. You can explore the incredibly diverse array of nursing options here Nursing Career Options. In the meantime, to help you navigate the possibilities and literally steer your career in the right direction, it is important to create a “career map” right out of nursing school. It’s also wise to reassess your career map regularly throughout your career to ensure you on the right track.

How do you know when you are on the right track? You experience consistent on-the-job challenge and satisfaction!

Below you will find helpful resources to map your career goals, and keep them up to date. Before you get started, try a quick mental exercise. Sort your skills roughly into the following three groups:

Professional: These are the specific talents you need to pursue in a particular occupation. For example, in nursing you need to be good at sciences and communication.

Personal: These are your natural abilities to get along with others or adapt to new situations. They include creativity, self-confidence, tolerance, self-awareness and more.

Practical: These are natural or acquired talents nurtured throughout life, both at work and play, and include communicating, listening, negotiating, conceptualizing, computing, planning, problem solving and goal setting.

Now you probably already have a clearer sense of your strengths and weaknesses. When we know more about ourselves, we are always in much better position to identify what we really want out of our daily lives, including work. Plus, we can sell ourselves to future employers with confidence!

Transferable skills

Your previous nursing experience, be it in the boardroom or bedside, is valuable. The key is to identify the knowledge and skills you have honed, and show how they can be applied to the new role you’re seeking. Below is a helpful list of general transferable skills. If you are stumped, create a list of your current (or past) job functions and then think through the skills you had to apply in order to do the job function. You will hit upon transferable skills that will help sell you on your next nursing position.

  • Plan and arrange events and activities
  • Delegate responsibility
  • Motivate others
  • Attend to visual detail
  • Assess and evaluate my own work
  • Assess and evaluate others' work
  • Deal with obstacles and crises
  • Multitask
  • Present written material
  • Present material orally
  • Manage time
  • Repair equipment or machinery
  • Keep records
  • Handle complaints
  • Co-ordinate fundraising activities
  • Coach
  • Research
  • Build or construct
  • Manage finances
  • Speak a foreign language (specify language)
  • Use sign language
  • Utilize computer software (specify programs)
  • Train or teach others
  • Identify and manage ethical issues
  • Tips for Career Planning

    You’re going to face some uncertainty during the process of nursing career planning, especially in today’s world of rapid technological and economic change. Keep these helpful thoughts in mind, and you’ll find the journey less intimidating.
    Change is constant. You can’t escape change; it occurs in all aspects of our lives all of the time. Embrace it as a positive, and the ushering of new opportunities. Being versatile and flexible as a nurse is essential.
    Career building has no end-point. Remember that life and work is about experiencing and enjoying the journey – the end result.
    Learning is continuous. Learning is life-long. If you feel you know everything, you are shortchanging yourself on a host of new opportunities to explore. Continual learning is also an expectation and requirement of all nurses for the College of Nurses Quality Assurance Program.
    Teamwork is support. Every successful career is built on a network of supporters, from friends, family, colleagues and mentors. Remember, to work within a collaborative team, that means you, yourself must be collaborative.
    Do what you love. The pursuit of dreams motivates and directs us, and gives us the confidence we need to make tough decisions.