Nurse Keith: Your Nursing Career, The Long and Short Term

Nurse Keith: Your Nursing Career, The Long and Short Term

When you’re in nursing school and planning your career, there are short- and long-term considerations to keep in mind. In the short term, you need to graduate and pursue the next step, which may be a job or another degree program. In the long term, you need to assess where you’re heading and what you’d like to accomplish over the coming years. What happens in between we might consider the mid-term. These are all important stages, and none are mutually exclusive.

The short term

Let’s say you’re a fourth year student finishing your BSN. You’ve worked hard, done well in your clinical rotations, and crushed the academic side.

Your short-term goals are to finish school with flying colors, pass the NCLEX on the first attempt, and find a well-paying position at a facility where you think you’ll gain the most appropriate experience as a novice nurse.

These short-term goals play a part in the formation of your mid- and long-term goals.

The mid-term

Your mid-term goals for your nursing career may be difficult to pin down when you’re just out of school, but keeping your eyes on that mid-term prize is important.

Having achieved your short-term goals of graduating, passing the NCLEX, and landing a good job in the ICU, your vision is now focused on succeeding in your current position while planning for what’s next.

In the mid-term, you can see that completing your critical care certification is smart. First, your workplace requires you to become certified before you’ve reached 1,000 hours of clinical time. Second, you know that the certification will improve your skills and knowledge while also making you more marketable. You can see the path ahead.

The mid-term is now clear: certification and clinical mastery are top of the priority list.

The long-term

Now that you’re certified in critical care and achieved a high level of clinical expertise, you can see there’s more to do. You could coast in this place of mastery and professional satisfaction for a while, but that’s not how you roll. You know that the healthcare landscape changes frequently, so elevating your professionalism and marketability is prudent.

As a critical care nurse with experience and confidence, you now know that you want to earn a master’s degree that will provide even more opportunity.

Assessing your long-term desires, you realize that you love patient care, but you feel that you can accomplish even more for patients by being a nurse leader. You’d like to be a progressive nurse leader who nurtures other nurses towards greater skill and mastery, and this is where your passion now lies.

To accomplish your goal, you enroll in a program that will provide you with a master’s degree in nursing management and organizational leadership. You know that this MSN will open many doors for you. You want to be a nurse leader who has a hand in steering the ship of a highly regarded hospital system that will recognize you for who you truly are.

Tying it all together

As you can see, the short-term experience of earning your BSN was essential. This important accomplishment was followed by mastering critical care and evolving from novice to expert in the mid-term.

Everything you did along the way prepared you for the new long-term goal of becoming an amazing nurse leader. You couldn’t skip any steps, and each stage of your career was crucial to the next.

As you plan your nursing career, see the short-, mid-, and long-term, and know that each step you take on the journey is a piece of an important and exciting puzzle that make up the totality of your life and career as a nurse.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, consultant, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at

Empower yourself with knowledge through an online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case managementinfection control, and executive leadership.

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