Moving up the ladder: how to advance your career in nursing

26 October 2017 | Careers Advice | Thomas Peacock

Nursing is an ideal career for many people due to the high earning potential and quality of life it provides. Once a nurse obtains a nursing degree and begins work, there are many ways to advance in the field of nursing. Read on for tips and advice.

Earn an Advanced Degree

Though many nurses begin their careers with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, at mid-career a nurse may decide to return to school for a master’s (MSN) or even a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). Earning an advanced degree allows a nurse to demand a higher salary and an advanced position. Some schools even offer BSN to DNP online nursing programs. These convenient programs allow working mothers to complete large portions of their degree program from home.

Focus on Ethics and Professionalism

Nursing is a career field that constantly requires workers to engage with the public. Being respectful of patients, maintaining confidentiality and performing one’s job to the best of one’s abilities are all essential. Earning a good reputation as a nurse is a good way to catch your employer’s eye and help you move up the career ladder. Here are a few tips for engaging respectfully with patients:

  • Strive for timeliness. Apologize for keeping a patient waiting.
  • In order to avoid confusion, explain the patient’s treatment options in laymen’s terms.
  • Avoid distractions during your shift. Limit your use of your cell phone or tablet.
  • Greet patients with a smile and a handshake.


Regardless of your healthcare setting, you’re probably required to work alongside other nurses. Get to know these other nurses. They can be your allies if you ever need someone to switch shifts with you or maybe even babysit while you work.

Networking outside your place of employment is also a good idea. Nurses have many professional organizations and conferences to choose from. Consider joining a nursing organization that allows you to fellowship with other healthcare professionals. Rubbing elbows with people who have similar goals can benefit you in the long run, especially when it comes to searching for a new job or trying to obtain a promotion.

Advancing your career in nursing often requires a combination of more training in your field as well as a professional mindset. Joining a professional organization and earning an advanced degree can help you obtain an executive position.

Author bio:

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys Tennis and spending time with her family.

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