AORN Blog - The Periop Life

5 Knowledge Pathways to Secure Your Nursing Future

A Guest Post from Phyllis Quinlan, RN-BC, PhD

Knowledge Pathways to Secure Your Nursing Future

January 4, 2018     

Having the vision to pursue education and certifications now can help you secure a fulfilling future in a range of career directions.

Here are five pathways to build the knowledge you can use for the entire span of your career.

1. Earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing

I strongly believe that a baccalaureate degree in nursing should be the knowledge foundation for every nurse. With many health care facilities moving toward Magnet recognition, this is becoming a must. I also hear from nurses whose hospital is acquired or merges and nurses are required to have a four-year degree in nursing to secure their jobs. With health care dollars being tight, organizations hiring nurses are also screening for nurses with this degree as a baseline. Fortunately, academic education is far more learner- and life-friendly than ever, with many online- and campus-based options for professionals who want to advance their education while working.

2. Pursue a Master’s Degree That Takes You Where You Want to Go

Getting a master’s degree in nursing, or nursing education will allow you to be facility-based in the service of professional development and this will also give you the option to teach nursing in an academic setting. Just as opportunities are opening up with online education to learn, these same opportunities are available for master-prepared nurses to teach.

Let’s say you want to stay clinical. Consider a masters in nursing education to become a Nurse Practitioner with the option of becoming an RN first assistant (RNFA)—a surefire way to blaze your clinical pathway for working in the OR in an acute or ambulatory setting, pursing work in a surgical office setting, or going into wound care in home health.

Looking to leadership? Consider a Master’s in Business Administration to develop the business acumen needed to advance the operational and financial success of a perioperative department.

3. Consider Certification Options

Along with an advanced degree, it is smart to combine this knowledge with certifications. For example, a certification in infection prevention can help a nurse with an advanced degree in education to lay a foundation for a rich future in research or areas such as risk management, quality, and safety. Government and private company options are also available for nurses with a combination of knowledge in degrees and certifications, even opening doors for work in social media and content creation to reach a wide scope of clinical practitioners. For those nurses looking to earn or recertify their CNOR®, AORN offers several formats, including Prep for CNOR® Live.

4. Build Your 21st Century Nursing Skills

Nursing in today’s world is all about service to your organization, to staff, to coworkers, to patients and families, and even to yourself. Embrace skills such as appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence and for leaders, transformational leadership.

Along with these “soft” skills, any nurse looking to lead must have a strong knowledge-base in finance areas such as accounting, revenue cycle, and budgeting to hold their own in discussing financial needs and goals of their department and broader organization. AORN and other professional organizations offer a wealth of seminars and other leadership training opportunities. Consider registering to attend AORN’s upcoming Executive Leadership Summit to gain a focus on financials and other key aspects of business and administrative knowledge that will serve a nurse well in pursuing leadership opportunities.

5. Find and Be a Mentor

Mentors in your “goal role” can provide a valued source for advice and guidance. Try reaching out to colleagues in your facility, your local community through your AORN chapter and within the broader perioperative nursing community through AORN’s OR NurseLink to make new connections in your professional journey. Serving as a mentor can also help you to expand your knowledge, particularly if you are interested in an educational career pathway. Whether you are mentoring or being mentored in any role, an important part of career planning involves understanding trends in salaries and compensation. Use AORN’s Salary Calculator with new data from AORN’s 2017 Salary Survey and read about key takeaways from the latest perioperative nursing salary survey.

Additional Resources

AORN members can take advantage of free career coaching with Phyllis Quinlan at AORN’s 2018 Global Surgical Conference & Expo. She will be offering one-on-one sessions, facilitating group discussions, and presenting on the topic of emotional intelligence at the AORN booth in the exhibit hall.