Nursing Career Advancement - When it Makes Sense


Published: 27 July 2017

In the course of a nurse’s career, there are times that favour professional advancement and moments that call for maintaining the status quo.

There are many prudent ways to approach taking one’s nursing career to the next level when, and if, the time is right.

It’s Personal

While it's true that moving from one type of nursing to another is a professional advancement, such a move is also deeply personal. Whether going back to school or pursuing certification in a specialty, the professional is also personal in nature.

Looking at nursing career advancement through a holistic lens, we can see that a major career decision can have far-reaching ramifications. The pursuit of an advanced nursing degree will impact family, social life, parenting and marriage, leisure and other aspects of one’s lifestyle. Similarly, a promotion to director, manager or nurse executive equally puts pressure on the nurse in the form of harder work and longer hours, stress and increased responsibility.

When making career advancement decisions, one must globally assess the potential impact of certain decisions, including how one’s workstyle and lifestyle may need to change in response to a new phase of one’s career.

nursing career advancement work at home

It’s Professional

On the professional side, advancing one’s nursing career can be a positive and empowering choice.

As mentioned above, a promotion into management carries certain ramifications, including increased self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and the accumulation of skills and knowledge.

Similarly, the achievement of an advanced degree may lead to a broader range of experience, as well as increased autonomy of practice in certain settings.

Certifications are another strategy for increasing one’s marketability and attractiveness in the job marketplace.

Career advancement can also be achieved without returning to school or seeking certification. On-the-job training can lead to new possibilities; for example, becoming a super-user of a new electronic medical record can potentially lead to opportunities in the IT department. Nurses with facility for computers and new technologies can often be tapped for special projects, research or initiatives.

It’s a Choice

There are times during a career when assertively seeking professional advancement makes sense. A motivated nurse with the desire to move up the ladder or achieve recognition can use their desire as a powerful springboard.

On the other hand, there are moments when professional advancement is furthest from our minds. When a new baby is born, professional growth may take a back seat to the joy and stress of parenthood. If a nurse is caring for a disabled spouse or aging parent, work may be something that simply gets done in order to put food on the table.

We must all recognise the various phases of our nursing careers and make choices about professional advancement that make sense for ourselves, our families and our chosen way of living.


There are no rules about moving our nursing careers forward. A nurse will generally know in their heart or gut when the time for forward momentum arrives. There’s an itch, a yearning, a desire for more that simply cannot be denied. It’s a calling, and we respond when we’re ready.

Nursing career advancement is personal, professional and highly impactful. Career advancement is different for each nurse because every nurse’s journey is highly personal and idiosyncratic.

Tune into your career, your desires and your motivations, and then act accordingly. Since there are indeed no rules, you can simply make the choice that works best for you in the interest of creating the career you desire and deserve.