Building an individual brand as a nurse and healthcare professional is a lifelong process that can be personally and materially rewarding. Branding isn’t just for corporations – every professional has a brand whether they know it or not, and consciously developing it is a key to long-term success.
Your education has meaning
Your nursing education doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It is a lifestyle choice to pursue higher education and to fulfill your professional career goals. Nursing school is serious business; it takes time, money, resources, and intense commitment.
If you began your nursing journey as an RN, worked your way through earning your BSN, and then pursued and achieved your master’s degree, you have consistently made a statement to the world that you value your career and have committed to improving and growing as a nurse.
When you step up the plate and work to earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree, you demonstrate the significance that your professional development holds for you. Few people go back to school on a whim; there’s much at stake as you move up the educational ladder, and much to gain with each incremental step forward on your chosen path.
Seeking further education and expertise imbues your career with an authentic sense of forward movement. Your education has many layers of meaning – both personal and professional – and you can choose to recognize it as eminently meaningful and impactful.
Your personal brand has meaning
Your personal brand as a healthcare professional is the sum total of who you are, what you know, how you move in the world, and the experience that others have when interacting with you in your role as a nurse.
As you accumulate knowledge, skill, educational achievements, expertise, and credentials, your brand gains depth and breadth.
When writing your resume, each additional certification, degree, or skill set contributes to the sum of the parts that make you the nurse you are. As you draft a cover letter, sit for a job interview, apply to a DNP program, or create your LinkedIn profile or business card, your brand precedes you.
If your colleagues at work were to answer a questionnaire about your merits as a nurse and human being, what would they say? If your supervisors and mentors were to describe who you are and what makes you special, how would they verbalize it? This is a significant part of your brand: what other professionals (and patients) feel when they interact with you.
The whole is greater than the sum
Your education contributes to your expertise and knowledge. Your certifications contribute even more specific skills and know-how, and your professional experience as a nurse brings invaluable hands-on learning that cannot be replicated elsewhere. These are just parts of the whole.
When you add your own personal life experience to this mix of knowledge and skill, you begin to see that the whole of who you are as a nurse is indeed greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Finding your own place in the nursing ecosystem is an ongoing journey. You may develop a love for informatics, leadership, or skilled bedside care – such a result is a by-product of that journey.
Seek the pathway that will take you in the direction of your greatest aspirations, and nurture those desires as representative of your own personal nursing brand. Project confidence in the nursing path you’ve walked, and embody what makes you the nurse you are – this is your true brand, the one you feel in your nurse’s heart.
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 NurseKeith.com.
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