Accelerate Your Nursing Career: An Optimistic Guide to Setting and Achieving Short–Term Goals. Setting goals is an important way to advance your skills and excel in your career. For nursing professionals, short-term goals are a great way to prepare for long-term goals, develop their careers and improve their nursing skills. Understanding the types of short-term goals and how to set and achieve them may help you succeed in your nursing career. In this article, we discuss the importance of short-term nursing goals, offer a list of five short-term goals for nurses with tips to set and achieve your own nursing goals.
Why is it important for nurses to set short-term goals?
There are several reasons setting short-term goals is an important part of succeeding as a nurse. Setting short-term goals may help you excel in your career as a nurse by:
Contributing to long-term goals
Short-term goals are often necessary to achieve long-term goals and career path objectives. Setting goals that you can achieve now or in the near future may help you accomplish future, more complex goals later on in your career. When setting and achieving short-term nursing goals, it may be helpful to consider the impact they may have on your long-term career goals and tailor your efforts to best prepare for future objectives.
Holding yourself accountable
Setting short-term goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your success. Consider setting short-term goals to track your progress and motivate yourself to continue advancing your career. Each goal you achieve may give you a sense of accomplishment and could encourage you to continue developing your skills as a nursing professional.
Discovering your interests
Setting short-term goals early in your nursing career may help you determine your interests and passions in the field of nursing. Consider setting and achieving short-term goals that help you explore potential career paths to determine which specialties and areas of healthcare you feel most passionate about pursuing.
Optimizing patient care
Providing optimal patient care may be one of the most important objectives in healthcare professions. Setting short-term goals that enhance your performance and develop your skills as a nurse may help you provide the best possible care to your patients. Consider using short-term goals to develop your talents as a nurse and learn new ways to provide excellent patient care.
Related: Advancing Your Nursing Career: From Registered Nurse To Physician Assistant
5 short-term goals for nurses
Below is a list of five short-term goals to consider pursuing during your nursing career:
1. Pass your board exam
After completing your education, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before being able to work as a nurse. Consider passing the NCLEX as a short-term goal and an important step toward beginning your nursing career. The education gained from nursing school programs may be helpful in providing you with the necessary knowledge to pass the NCLEX, but there are several resources and preparation materials available to nursing students to further prepare you for the test.
Consider seeking study groups, mock test sessions and online resources to increase your chances of successfully passing your NCLEX.
2. Match with your ideal position
After completing your education and passing the NCLEX, consider the short-term goal of securing employment with your ideal hospital or position to gain entry-level experience as a nursing professional. Finding employment with a hospital or position that matches your long-term goals and current skills as a nurse is an important part of beginning a fulfilling career.
When looking for entry-level positions as a recent nursing school graduate, try to think of specific areas, units or hospitals in which you’d most like to work and tailor your job-seeking efforts to meet their particular criteria.
3. Succeed in your preceptorship
Often, upon gaining employment as a nurse, you’ll undergo a training program with a preceptor on your floor or unit. A preceptor is a teacher or instructor who will provide training and monitor your performance in your new position. Your preceptorship acts as a probationary training period and determines whether you’ll continue your employment. This makes the short-term goal of succeeding in your preceptorship an important part of pursuing a fulfilling career in nursing.
To succeed in your preceptorship, it’s important to apply the knowledge gained from your education to your current position, ask questions, practice active listening and seek support from other experienced staff members.
4. Continue to learn
Continuing to learn is a short-term goal that you can revisit throughout your career as a nurse. Try to continue to find new opportunities to develop your skills and advance your knowledge base. You may do this by learning new procedures, becoming proficient in new healthcare equipment and technologies or attending regular industry educational events, such as seminars and conferences.
5. Improve your communication skills
Improving your communication skills is another short-term goal that you can revisit throughout your career, but it may be particularly important for entry-level nurses to be able to converse efficiently and accurately with their patients and supervisors. Effective communication may be an essential part of succeeding as a nurse and providing optimal patient care throughout each phase of your career.
To enhance your communication skills, do your best to practice active listening, develop your paraphrasing abilities and expose yourself to communicating with people from a variety of backgrounds and with differing communication styles. To do this, you may join discussion groups, read books on the subject and access online resources on effective communication.
Here are some tips to help you set your own short-term nursing goals:
Set specific goals
Setting specific goals is a great way to increase your efficiency when working toward your objectives. Consider using the acronym SMART to develop goals that are:
Ensuring that your short-term goals have each of these characteristics may help you make more informed decisions about your nursing career goals and could help to ensure your success in achieving them.
Consider your passions
When setting short-term goals for your nursing career, it may be helpful to consider your passions and your motivations for entering the field of nursing. Your passions and motivations may include:
The types of patients you wish to work with
The contribution you’d like to make to healthcare
The ways in which you’d like to serve your community
Your ideal work environment
The level of leadership you’d like to achieve
Understanding your reasons for entering this career field may help you prioritize your short-term goals based on which are most likely to help you pursue your passions in nursing.
Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses
It’s important to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses when setting short-term goals for your nursing career. Understanding the areas in which you’ve already been successful and the areas in which you’d like to improve can help you make more informed, specific decisions about your short-term goals. Try to think of your experiences as a nursing professional and consider instances where your skills have helped you to succeed or where you could have performed more optimally. Then, think of resources you can use to achieve short-term goals based on the areas in which you’d like to improve.
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Tips for reaching short-term nursing goals
Here are some tips to help you achieve your own short-term nursing goals:
Understand your resources
In order to achieve your short-term nursing goals, it’s important that you understand the resources available to you. Consider researching opportunities for learning and skill development through your school, employer and community. You may be able to find courses, pieces of training, additional certifications or industry events that can provide valuable tools to help you achieve your short-term nursing goals.
Measure your success
A great way to keep yourself accountable and organize your goal-reaching efforts is to implement ways to measure your progress. Try to create specific timelines and milestones to keep track of your success and adjust your methods when necessary.
For example, you choose a specific date to have passed your NCLEX exam. If as the date approaches, you feel you need to revisit the material or spend more time studying, you can adjust your schedule to allow time for further review.
Seeking a fellow nursing professional to act as your mentor may contribute to achieving your goals. You may share your short-term and long-term goals with an experienced nurse and ask them to support you in your efforts. They may be able to provide wisdom and industry experience that may assist you in achieving your short-term goals. Having a mentor is also a great way to stay accountable for your actions and can act as a resource for any questions or concerns throughout the process of advancing your career.