Nurses are easily one of the most respected individuals out there. They dedicate their careers to helping others, ensuring that people have the best healthcare experience possible. And while it’s a noble and rewarding career path, you may have reached the point where you’re ready for more. Maybe you want to embrace a new challenge, try new things, learn new skills, and really push yourself to the next level of success.

If this sounds like the position you currently find yourself in and you’re wondering what you need to do in order to prepare for more of a leadership role in nursing, these tips will help you to forge your path. It can be all-encompassing in that it requires changes made at work, at home, and even with your mindset. So, let’s take a look at the steps you can start to take right now, today, in order to follow your career dreams.

Set Goals for Yourself

A good place to begin is by setting both short-term and long-term goals for yourself. It’s really hard to figure out the steps you need to take if you don’t know where you’re heading and what you want to achieve. Where do you want to be six months, one year, two years, five years, and even 10 years from now? No goal is too big, just go ahead and put it all down on paper so you can start to formulate your action plan.

And while this plan can work as your blueprint, it’s also okay to make changes as you go. Your interests may change over the years and suddenly that long-term goal may also need adjusting.

Figure Out the Steps Required to Achieve Your Goals

Now that you have your goals set it’s easy to start working backward. This means identifying all the steps you will need to take to achieve each of those goals. This may require research, asking questions, and looking into the field of nursing a little deeper.

Head Back to School

One of the best ways to prepare for a leadership role in nursing is to head back to school and further your education. The BSN to DNP programs are a great way for professionals already in the field to further their skills so that they can in fact become nursing leaders. While on-the-job experience is great, the fact is that in order to reach that next level on the career ladder you may need more schooling.

Once you obtain your DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), you can go on to work as a family nurse practitioner, a health care executive, a clinical researcher, you could get into health care lobbying, and more.

If you want to still be able to work while attending university, be sure to look into the online programs. There are often part-time options available which can make juggling your schedule more manageable.

Use a Weekly Calendar or Task Tool

Just because you have set those goals for yourself, and you’ve decided to head back to school it doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. You’re going to need a lot of motivation and drive to stick with the plan. People often start out with a fresh mindset and feeling energized to embrace the changes in their life, only to start to drop off on little things here and there and eventually find themselves struggling.

This is exactly why a weekly calendar, task tool, to-do list apps, or weekly milestone list is a good idea. Think of it as your own personal mentor and coach tool that helps you to prioritize things in your week and ensure that you’re not straying from the big picture. Sure things may come up here and there, but in general, it’s a good idea to stick to that weekly to-do list. This ensures you’re never falling too far behind and that you will still hit your goals.

Speak to Family Members and Friends About Your Goals

It’s also helpful to put your goals out there in the universe. Sharing your plans with family members and close friends means it’s out there, it is now out in the universe, and that alone can act as a motivating factor. There’s also the fact it helps your friends and family understand what you are going through at the moment, and know what you’re working towards, which means they will be there to offer support and a helping hand when needed.

Don’t Let Your Physical Health Slide

With so much going on in your life as you work to move up the career ladder in nursing it can be pretty easy to push your physical health to the side. The problem is that when your physical health suffers, so does your mental health – which means all aspects of your life will start to feel the negative impacts.

Prioritizing your physical health doesn’t have to be confusing, it is a matter of carving out the necessary time and also telling yourself this is important. Ideally, you want to aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each and every week. If you’re not the gym type of person, no worries, there are plenty of other ways to stay fit. These can include jogging, hiking, biking, walking, yoga, swimming, and any other physical activity. You can choose solo activities or exercises that can be done with a friend if that helps to motivate you.

Keep a Positive Mind-Set

The final tip is to ensure you keep a positive mindset no matter how long your journey takes. Making the decision that you want to pursue a leadership role is huge, and it’s natural to want it to happen sooner rather than later. The thing is that it often takes time. You may need to learn more skills, finish a degree program, get more experience, change employers; there is plenty you may need to do first. Keeping a positive mindset and staying confident that you will achieve your goals will help make it a reality.

Preparing for a Leadership Position Is In Your Control

The good news is that if you have dreams of a leadership role in nursing, your career destiny truly is in your control. You can take the steps necessary to achieve your goals.


Hey there, I’m Tiffany! I’m a work-at-home mom of two rambunctious children (Jasmine, 9 + Sean II, 5) and recently widowed at just 35 years old. I've remarried and currently live right outside of Baton Rouge in Denham Springs, Louisiana with two adoring cats and a dog. Let's connect on Twitter @fabulousmomblog.

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