How to achieve goals as a nursing student

Nursing SMART goals are valuable tools for monitoring your professional progress and laying the groundwork for career advancement. Just like any long-term project, managing your professional path requires a solid plan.

Fortunately, the effectiveness of setting SMART goals for nursing success has already been established. If you aren’t familiar with SMART nursing goals or you’re unsure how to begin, learn how to set achievable goals and take control of your professional future.

What Are Nursing SMART Goals?

Nursing SMART goals are proven to help nurses stay focused on their career goals and map out the professional direction they want to take.

They are, essentially, a guide to creating a nursing business plan. SMART is an acronym for the guidelines nurses should use when setting their goals:

  • Be specific. Setting broad nursing goals allows them to be open for interpretation. Sometimes goals for nursing will be long term, and your environment and personal views may change how you interpret the goal you’ve set. If your interpretation varies too much, it can derail your progress and force you to start over. Keep your nursing goals focused and detailed.
  • Keep it measurable. For goals to be effective, there must be some way to measure your progress. This provides the opportunity to celebrate your victories and maintain your motivation. Whatever measurement guide you choose, make sure you have clear milestones and a defined finish line.
  • Keep it attainable. Nursing goals should be challenging, but it’s important to verify that they are not beyond your reach. If you lack the tools and resources you need to complete your goal, you may be setting yourself up for failure and threatening self-confidence in your ability to reach other goals. If you’re considering a goal for nursing that requires several complicated preparatory steps to achieve, give yourself enough time or break it down into more manageable goals.
  • Be realistic. Make sure the nursing goals you set are not beyond your ability and skill set. Similar to attainability, setting goals beyond your capability has the potential to overwhelm you and kill your motivation. While shooting for the stars isn’t wrong, try to keep your goals rooted on the ground to build your professional momentum through successes you achieve along the way.
  • Keep it timely. Setting goals won’t have the maximum effect if they are not accompanied by deadlines. Creating a target time line for each goal and milestone will give you a better indication of your progress. Looming deadlines are also great motivators and can help you gauge whether your efforts need to be increased to reach your self-imposed cutoff point.

How To Set SMART Nursing Goals

The best way to begin setting SMART nursing goals is to look at the bigger career picture. Think of where you want to be in 10 years and determine what you need to accomplish to get there.

Break those goals down into smaller, five-year goals and then again into one-year goals. You should consider the nursing SMART goals guidelines for each of these steps.

This process will leave you with a 10-year, five-year and one-year plan. These SMART nursing goals can be broken down further into short-term goals or into milestones depending on their complexity.

It isn’t necessary to stick to these time frames when developing your SMART goals for nursing. These are just suggestions, and you’re free to make your goals as long- or short-term as you need. The point is to pick a time frame that works best for you.

It’s also important to note that your nursing SMART goals should be revisited on a regular basis. Over time, you may find that your plans evolve, requiring you to adjust your plans.

You could discover new interests or decide that certain goals aren’t worth the time and effort they take to achieve.

Check in with your SMART nursing goals every so often to make sure you’re still working toward the things that you truly want and are motivated to achieve.

Examples Of SMART Goals For Nursing

It can be easy to shortcut your goals in an effort to get them started, but it’s important to stick with the SMART system to increase your chances of success.

Here are a few examples to show you the difference between a professional idea and a nursing SMART goal.

Example 1:

  • Simple goal: I want a position that makes more money.
  • SMART nursing goal: By November 30th, I will have a new position at an acute care facility that pays at least $28 per hour, including differential.

The first example is vague and open-ended. The second sets a deadline and identifies a specific goal with a measurable component.

Example 2:

  • Simple goal: I want to show more compassion and empathy to my patients.
  • SMART nursing goal: I will spend an extra five minutes with each new patient and ask questions about their lives to learn at least three interests we can discuss to distract them from stress about their condition.

In the first example, compassion and empathy can’t be measured and there are no specifics. In the second, a time frame is set and specific actions are laid out to improve the patient’s experience.

Example 3:

  • Simple goal: I want to complete my MSN.
  • SMART goal: I will complete my MSN within three years by completing online courses at a rate of at least six credit hours each semester.

Again, the second example has more detail and sets a specific time line to follow. It’s also important to note the language difference.

Making an “I will” statement is much more powerful than “I want.” Taking the time to set your nursing SMART goals is all about setting yourself up for success. Give yourself goals that motivate you and keep you focused.

Nursing school is challenging, whether you’re a new student or a seasoned professional in an RN to BSN, or RN to MSN program. Between the volume of material to cover, the hours of studying to understand it all and learning to care for patients, nursing students have to work hard to stay on top of it all.

The good news is that it is possible to do a great job in nursing school and still have time for family, friends and fun. Making these seven habits a part of your life can make you a more effective – and successful – nursing student, no matter what stage you’re in.

Habit 1: Manage Your Time

There’s a reason this is the first habit to master: it’s the most important! Balancing classes, studying, work, family obligations and a personal life takes some serious planning.

Break each day into blocks of time and then decide what’s the most important thing for each block. For example, you know you need time to sleep. Will you manage to get eight hours every day? Or should you plan for seven? Proper sleep is the foundation for a healthy, stress-free nursing school experience, so don’t skimp on it.

Schoolwork is the next important chunk for nursing school students. Tests, papers, and important assignments all require a certain amount of study time. Plan ahead and block out sufficient study time every day. Try not to let it get away from you.

Working nurses who are studying for a BSN or MSN need to become experts at balancing school, studying and their shifts, often while caring for family members.

That’s where strict scheduling helps.

Enlist your family to keep a master calendar so everyone knows when you’re working, going to class and studying. And be sure to schedule some free time for the things you like to do, whether it’s working out, reading, listening to music or spending time with your family. That balance will help you get through the rigors of nursing school.

Habit 2: Study Smart

Some people can cram for a test and make it work. But in nursing, you really have to understand the material and how to apply it in real-world situations. You’ll be using your reasoning skills to apply the right choices to different conditions, and not choosing between answers “A” or “B” on a test. That’s why you need to study smart. Try these ideas to make your study time work more effectively for you:

  • Study effectively. Don’t spend four hours on something that should really take two. Try dividing a four-hour study block into four, one-hour study segments, and space them out a bit. You’ll probably comprehend the material much better and finish faster.
  • Avoid distractions. When you sit down to study, put away any books, materials and devices that you don’t need. Avoid the temptation to check your texts or social media.
  • Review classwork ahead of time. Read through text before you get to class.
  • Practice. When you finish a section of reading, run through some practice test questions. See if you can answer them without your notes.
  • Give yourself enough time. Most students underestimate the amount of time it will take to finish an assignment, study or write a paper. Be realistic.

Habit 3: Ask for Help

This is a tough one! For most of us, asking for help seems like a sign of weakness or failure, but it’s not. Seek out someone who’s been in your nursing shoes, and can offer advice or just listen. They’ll help you get through the difficult spots.

Habit 4: Focus

Now more than ever, nursing students are multi-tasking. It’s so easy to get distracted by a message or alert, and get way off track. The fact is that almost no one is good at multi-tasking. So try to focus on one thing at a time. Eliminate distractions by organizing your study space, and turn off your phone, TV and music. When you focus on studying, you’ll finish faster, leaving more time for catching up on social media and your favorite shows.

Habit 5: Make Realistic Goals

Keep it real, and you’ll be much more successful in reaching your goals. Sure, it would be great to study for eight hours over the weekend, but is it really possible? Can you aim for four and make that happen? How about setting daily goals like covering one major section and one smaller chapter? You’ll feel better about yourself when you make and reach smaller goals along the way to the big goal – your BSN or MSN degree.

Habit 6: Be Proactive

Planning ahead and staying on top of your assignments will save you lots of time, and prevent a rush to complete everything right before the end of the term. Also, take the initiative to ask questions of your instructors. Find out early about their standards and preferences, and you’ll complete assignments right the first time.

Habit 7: Reward Yourself

With all the challenges of nursing school, it’s not easy to do your best over the long haul. You will probably get tired of studying when you’d rather be spending time with your family or friends. That’s when it’s time to set a goal and reward yourself when you reach it. Getting into the habit of motivating yourself, controlling your behavior and doing something nice for yourself will take you far, both in nursing school and in your career.

These 7 Habits Can Make Nursing School Better

Creating good habits can make nursing school much easier, no matter how challenging it can be. Managing your time, being proactive, rewarding yourself, studying smart, focusing and asking for help will keep you happy and healthy while you earn that degree. Also, consider online nursing programs, which are designed for working professionals, and allow you to attend classes as your schedule permits.

Whether you’re a nurse who just graduated or a long-time professional who feels like your career has stagnated, setting nursing goals is a great exercise for RNs who want to advance their nursing career.

Check out these examples for nursing career goals for inspiration to set your own professional nursing career goals.

5 Achievable Examples Of Nursing Career Goals

1. Advance your Degree

Whatever education level you’re at currently, setting a goal to advance to the next degree provides you with a clear road map to success.

With structured class schedules and school advisers to keep you pointed in the right direction, this example of nursing career goals only requires your time and commitment to achieve.

2. Take a Management Position

Out of the other examples for nursing career goals on this list, this one is probably the least structured.

Setting your sights on a management position is a goal that can increase your salary and open new professional opportunities.

It will require a flexible strategy to achieve but can become more attainable in a shorter amount of time if you’re willing to relocate.

3. Become a Specialist

Choosing a specialty is one of the nursing career goals you can achieve more than once. Select a specialty you feel passionate about or have demonstrated a natural aptitude for, and begin the training you need to become an expert in that field.

Achievement only requires your commitment and passion for the specialty you’ve chosen. Your increase in specialized knowledge can also open doors to help you achieve some of the other goals on your list.

4. Obtain Professional Certifications

Obtaining professional certifications is another of the nursing career goals that can be achieved multiple times.

With a variety of certifications available, such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, you have an incredible selection to help take your career in a new direction.

All you need to do to achieve this goal is put in the time, study the material and pass the test.

5. Provide Nursing Services to Rural Areas

If you’re searching for charitable examples for nursing career goals, this one fits your needs. People who live in rural areas often have little to no access to the medical care they need.

Many programs allow nurses to fill this need in areas that lack comprehensive medical facilities. This goal gives you the joy of making a difference in the lives of the people who live in these areas and can help you qualify for programs to reduce your student loan debt.

Some traveling nurse positions offer perks in an attempt to supplement medical care in these areas.

How to achieve goals as a nursing student

Now in my final year of nursing, it is time for me and many other student nurses to write our final personal development plan.

A personal development plan (PDP) is something that you are supposed to write at the start of each year, detailing your goals for practice and theory and how you are going to achieve them.

I have found PDPs difficult to write, especially at the start of the year as all the modules are launching. My goal is to stay calm and not be overwhelmed by it all, as thinking about the end of the year seems impossible. But this is my final year writing PDPs and I have some tips to share.

Remember the PDP is for you

Although personal tutors at university will look at your PDPs, they are designed for you. The whole point of a PDP is to make it personal to you – not to write what you think your personal tutors wants to read.

The goals you want to set yourself should be things that you actually want to achieve. If the goal is personal to you, you are far more likely to put your energy into achieving it.

Make your PDP realistic

Being a student nurse is stressful and the last thing you need is to set yourself an unrealistic goal in either practice or theory – so be realistic.

Think about your current skillset and your goal. Then think about what needs to be done to get you to where you want to be and whether this will be realistic once you are juggling placement, university, family and friends.

Don’t make things hard for yourself as you can’t do everything at once. Consider all the little steps that will help you to get to where you want to be and take it each step at a time.

Talk to people about your PDP

If you’ve written about wanting a certain experience in practice within your PDP – for example spending time with a psychologist – then when you go into placement and have your initial interview, let them know about your burning interest to work with psychology or whatever you included in your PDP.

The same goes for theory. If you have written about being more critical in your assignments then speak with lecturers for advice on how you can do this.

PDPs are your goals for the year, so it is your responsibility to do things throughout the year that bring you closer to where you want to be.

Hannah Simpson is a third-year learning disability nursing student at De Montfort University

A career in nursing can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a lifestyle choice and a mental shift, and just becoming a registered nurse is a journey in and of itself. There will always be a demand for qualified nurses; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for RNs through 2029 is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 7% and at a 45% rate for nurse practitioners, midwives, and anesthetists.

There are certain intangible “qualifications” that make good nurses great – a nursing skills checklist, if you will. Nursing students who possess these skills are quickly hired by the top organizations.

Below are the top 10 skills nursing students need to possess as they build a successful nursing career. How many can you check off your list?

1. Confidence

When stepping into a new nursing job, it can be easy to second-guess your decisions, regardless of how many exams you aced in school. But you need to be confident and assured that what you learned in nursing school has made you ready for this job. It’s about being optimistic, independent, and assertive, with enthusiasm for what you do and an emotional maturity that helps you do your job at a higher level.

2. Ability to connect the dots

So how well did you pay attention in school?! The tests are over, and now it’s time to apply what you learned to real-life situations. Maintaining a holistic understanding of course content and being able to pull from that knowledge to make decisions and ask the right questions will help you succeed and better assist patients.

3. Critical thinking

Being able to observe, think critically, and make the right decision is vital to being a successful nurse. You may be great at dressing a wound or give an IV like a pro, but without the ability to make quick decisions in high-stress situations, you’ll find yourself struggling as a nurse.

4. Relation-based care

This one is simple enough but cannot be overstated. “Bedside manner” is one of the most important tools in a nurse’s arsenal and, aside from proper actual treatment, it’s the one that can have the biggest impact on patient or family experience. As a framework, relation-based care improves safety, patient & staff satisfaction, and quality of work by improving each relationship within an organization. The ability to make real human connections and create an environment that keeps patients and their families feeling safe, informed, and cared for is a personal skill that lifts morale, and as a result, the reputation of the organization.

5. Leadership

Being a leader doesn’t require a leadership role. As a nurse with patients and families looking to you for updates and guidance, you’ll be put in leadership positions all day long. You’ll need to be self- and situationally aware, have strong time management skills, and be able to manage projects, conflicts, and emergencies.

6. Lifelong learning

Being committed to succeeding in your nursing career requires constant learning, practice, and reflection for continuous improvement. Few industries move at a faster rate than medicine and patient care and there’s always more to learn.

7. Think like a nurse

Successful nurses obviously need to have strong clinical thinking skills with a strong foundation of concepts and theories, but without being able to adapt to changing situations and think on the spot, lives could be in jeopardy. It’s a whole world of thought – with the help of blood, bodily fluids, 12-hour shifts, staying obsessively clean, and multitasking constantly, “thinking like a nurse” is hard to avoid.

8. Work well with colleagues

Hospitals or other organizations in which you work will expect new nurses to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with co-workers right off the bat. It’s not something learned in textbooks or by studying; it’s an intrinsic skill of maintaining composure, respect for others, and flexibility. Plus – it’s nice to be liked!

9. Consider alternative points of view

It’s easy to become absorbed in a patient’s situation or feel strongly about the best way to proceed with diagnosis or procedures. Be open to advice, and even confrontation, and stay open minded to other ways of doing things. Treatment is rarely binary; be accepting of other points of view and learn something from every situation.

10. Advocate for patients

As a nurse, it’s your responsibility to advocate for the patients you assist. You’ll often have the most contact with a patient and become the person debriefing team members, or interpreting tests, procedures, and instructions for patients and families.

Anyone who moves through their life without a clear goal or plan can become frustrated when they find things are not going well for them. If there is something you really want to change, something you are burning to achieve, having a plan of action will make all the difference.

Planning your career sounds as if it should be easy but in truth finding the time to work out your goals – and more importantly the steps you need to accomplish them – is a luxury. However, everyone deserves a career that is both successful and fruitful and if you do not set yourself realistic goals you are unlikely to achieve this. The following information will help you get started on this or reaffirm the plans you have already put in place.

First, answer the questions in the box on the opposite page. These will show you where things are working and where you need more structure. Having answered the questions, if you can spot what is missing it will be easier to work out ways to fill the gaps. If the exercise draws your attention to any work/career needs you have, make sure you list them.

Setting your goals

Answering insightful questions is the first step towards change. The next is taking the time to write out your goals and setting up a plan to achieve them. Making resolutions is something people often do in January and is the closest some get to forming plans. You may already have a career plan, but if this concept is new, make a list of what you would like to do with your career in the next 12 months.

Achieving your goals

The next step is to make a commitment to yourself that you will see through the plans you make. Without commitment it is unlikely that any of your goals will materialise.

Most people realise that to get what they want – or change something they don’t want – they will need to take action. Whether it is a promotion, starting a course of study or reducing your hours, the thing all goals have in common is that the outcome is dependent on good preparation and planning. One of the stumbling blocks when making changes is not following through on your plans. To avoid this put a date against the items on your list. If it is a big item break it down into smaller achievable tasks. Review these regularly.

Short-term steps

Improvements to your career can be achieved without making dramatic changes. If you have spotted lots of gaps, rather than immediately looking for a new post, check out the learning opportunities within your existing environment. Tell the people around you what you want to learn, why this is important to you and ask for their help and ideas. If you are interested in managerial responsibilities ask if you can shadow your manager for a day or offer to chair the next staff meeting. If you don’t ask, no one will help you. Be bold.

Making time

Time management is also important. To make changes in your current post you will
need time. Are there any things you are doing you could delegate to others or reduce your commitment to – either at home or at work? The time you free up will be yours to use towards progressing your career.

Get support

Find a trusted friend or ask someone you respect to be your mentor. Tell them about your career goals and the pathway you have planned for achieving them. Other people can be very good at spotting gaps, asking the right questions and offering you ideas. A good mentor will feel privileged to be asked, so don’t feel shy about it.

Reassess your goals along the way

One caveat is that when you set a goal you do it with the best information you have on hand. Sometimes along the way new information or opportunities may present themselves and it would be a shame to be so set on a specific path that you let something better pass you by. So take time to review your plans and progress and check they still suit you.

Tips for success

Finally, to speed up the process it helps to start acting now, as if you were already on the
point of achieving your goal. Visualisation helps, so form a clear picture in your mind of yourself holding the post you desire. See and feel everything you will be doing and saying. This is a trick Olympic athletes use to help them win races. When you feel confident about this post and believe you will reach it, you will start to act differently. When you act differently, people respond differently and before you know it the change will materialise. Good luck!

Self-assessment: clarifying your career goals

1.How do you usually feel about the working shift ahead?
Tick the most appropriate box
 Excited  Fulfilled  Content  Nothing  Bored
 Apprehensive  Dread it

2. What percentage of your time at work do you feel fulfilled?
 0%  10%  20%  30%  40%  50%  60%  70%
 80%  90%  100%

3. List any aspects of a typical working day that you would like
to change.

4. What is the single most important thing missing in your work?

5. What are the things that you’d seek from a change
or promotion?

6. How much longer do you plan to stay in your current post?
 Less than 1 year?  More than 1 year?  I don’t know

7. What type of work do you want to be doing in two years’ time?

How to achieve goals as a nursing student

Nurses are employed to care for sick or wounded patients. But when nurses band together for the good of their patients, their care is twice as effective.

Whether you’re on a care team made up multiple types of healthcare experts, like a nutritionist or a physical therapy specialist, or you’re working with a team of nurses to care for an entire unit, teamwork is essential to getting the job done right and improving patients’ health.

Whether you’re about to enter the field or are currently working in it, it’s important to understand the importance of teamwork in nursing. Keep reading to learn why it’s essential and how you can be a top-notch team player.

Get Your Nursing School Questions Answered at a Nursing Information Session

Why is teamwork in nursing so important?

“Healthcare is a complex entity, requiring the coordination of multiple talented individuals to provide high-quality care,” says Susan Alexander, a nurse practitioner at Riverside Family Health in Alabama. She explains that high functioning teams not only provide better support for patients, but also for each other during times of stress.

A typical nursing team is made up of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nursing assistants (NAs) and unit secretaries (USs). When all working together, this quintessential model of nursing will help prevent errors from occurring and help nurses reach their goal of providing optimal healthcare.

So how can you be an MVP in your nursing unit and contribute your very best to the team? Read on for tips on how to be a valuable asset to your nursing team!

How to be a valuable contributor to teamwork in nursing

There’s no arguing that working together is the best way to care for your patients. So what can you do to ensure you’re a valuable asset to your nursing team? Here are a few tips from the experts.

1. Keep communicating

Communication is paramount when working with a team of nurses. If one nurse is handing off a patient to another nurse at the end of a shift, it’s critical that every single detail be clearly communicated. If something is missed about a medication or a symptom, a life could be in danger.

Making sure you’re verbally communicating with doctors and the other members on your team, as well as communicating via your charts and notes, can help limit misunderstandings and conflict. It can also assist a team in making sure that no one nurse is completely overwhelmed with a workload or left alone to deal with an urgent patient situation that requires more than one person.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need,” says Sydney Liesch, a former RN on the cardiac floor at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. She explains that speaking up right away will be better for the patient and for you. She’s experienced nursing teams with good camaraderie and support, making it much easier to communicate effectively.

2. Be adaptable

Picture this: You’re assigned five patients one evening, but a fellow nurse seems to be really struggling with her load of six patients. Practicing adaptability allows nurses to be flexible and give and take when necessary. In this situation, you could volunteer to step in and split the duties to assist your team member.

“[If you] have even a minute of spare time, ask a coworker if they need help,” says Kelsey Gamache, RN at Providence Place Nursing Home. “The smallest things go a long way on a busy day.”

If a nursing assistant or other team member calls in sick and the team isn’t able to find a replacement, it’s essential that a well-functioning nursing team is able adjust and fill in where needed. The day in the life of a nurse is unpredictable as it is, so you should always be prepared for plans to change.

“You may feel that you are already pulling ‘your weight’ taking care of our own patients and wonder why you should help with someone else’s patients,” says Cara Noren, an RN at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “But think of each patient as your grandpa, daughter, or spouse. You wouldn’t want them to have less than the best care just because their nurse is busy.” Eagerly helping out with another nurse’s patient is the best way to make sure everyone’s loved one is taken care of, she adds.

Know the plan & stick with it

It’s important that all members of the nursing team know what the plan is for different situations and that they stick to it. The courses you complete in your nursing degree program will introduce you to many of the basic processes and procedures, but it’s important to connect with your nursing manager and the rest of your team about protocol should something damaging or life threatening occur.

“When emergencies happen, you want to know your role and be able to perform it without hesitation,” Noren says. “A well-oiled team will be able to give the patient the quality care they deserve.”

4. Get to know your team members

Trustworthiness is essential in the world of nursing, and the best way to grow trust is to get to be comfortable with one another. There are plenty of jobs out there where you can just put your head down, focus on your work and ignore everyone else – but nursing isn’t one of them! It’s crucial to build relationships and understand how each member of the team functions.

“Communicate with your aids,” Gamache says. “They know a lot, are able to do a lot and are there to help you. Make sure to understand their abilities and limits medically.”

While it might be tempting to eat your meals on your own or keep to yourself during your shifts, socializing with the rest of the team can go a long way in building rapport. If you’re communicating with one of the NAs and grow to understand his or her personality better, this can help you step in and help out in a way that someone oblivious to the particulars of the situation wouldn’t be able to.

Ready to join the team?

RNs are talented professionals and their role on a healthcare team is irreplaceable. On their own, they’re intelligent, compassionate and reliable. But these abilities are amplified when they band together and work as a team.

Sharon Gauthier, a seasoned emergency nurse and president of Patient Advocate for You, says there’s no better sight as a manager than to watch a well-orchestrated team all playing their roles and working together in a timely fashion to save a patient’s life.

Teamwork in nursing is a pillar of the profession. Now that you have some tips for improving your collaboration abilities, learn about another crucial skill: Understanding Why Nurses Need Critical Thinking Skills.

How to achieve goals as a nursing student

Whether it’s a question on a resume or a decision about where you want your nursing career to be in 10 years, career objectives are an important part of being a registered nurse. Your nursing career goals are likely to change over the years. Some nursing career goals examples include gaining clinical skills, becoming specialized or certified, and getting furthering your education.

Nursing Career Goals Examples

Career goals for nurses depend on the individual. Some aim to work in pediatric nursing, while others want to do trauma work. Some seek the adventure of a traveling nurse, and others value the stability of working their way up at the local hospital.

Career goals for nurses depend on how seasoned the nurse is. A new nurse looking for a job is going to have different nursing career objectives and goals than one who has worked for decades.

Some examples of nursing career goals include the following:

  • Working at an organization with a formal residency or internship program for new graduates
  • Becoming a specialist in a field such as cardiac nursing, geriatrics or trauma
  • Being certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • Obtaining an advanced degree to become an advanced practice registered nurse
  • Taking on a nursing management position at a new or growing medical practice

Take some time to think about your career objectives before writing a resume or going in for an interview.

Including Career Objectives on Your Resume

Putting your goals and objectives into words can be harder than you think, but it forces you to clarify your nursing career goals. If you include career objectives on your resume, consider the position you are applying for. You want to let an employer know succinctly and directly why you are the best person for the job and what you hope to achieve at the position in the long term.

When you apply for jobs early in your career, your nursing career goals and objectives may lean toward just getting a job. In this case, you want to indicate the strengths you can offer as a new nurse and what you want to achieve at that particular employer.


Empathic and dedicated nurse looking for a position at a hospital with a specialty in pediatric care. Completing nursing degree with pediatric certification in the fall.

Tireless and caring professional seeks opportunity at a clinic for geriatric medicine.

If you are an experienced nurse, your goals and objectives are likely to look at bit different. You should play up your experience and show how you can apply it to the position you’re seeking.


Experienced and compassionate nurse looking to apply more than 15 years of knowledge to a teaching position at a local university.

Seeking to apply my management and administrative skills to a nurse management position. Graduating with a certificate in management in the summer.

Answering Questions About Career Objectives

When interviewing for a nursing position, you should have answers about your nursing career goals that are more detailed than those listed on your resume. If you have nursing experience, be prepared to highlight it with details about your strengths and weaknesses. Discuss any training and certification you have completed or plan to do to make you more valuable in the position. Play up your experience and give specific examples of successes you’ve had.

If you’re going on interviews early in your career, you will not have nursing experience to fall back on. Let your interviewer know which courses or internships were most interesting to you during school and why. Explain why you want to go into a certain specialty and the steps you plan to take to get there. Let the employer know exactly why you want the position and how it fits into your long-term goals and objectives.

  • This One Resume Tip Could Get You the Job You Want
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Leslie Bloom is a Los Angeles native who has worked everywhere from new start-ups to established corporate settings. In addition to years of business and management experience, she has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications. She holds degrees in both journalism and law.

How to achieve goals as a nursing student

To maintain your life balance as a DNP student, it will be important to establish daily, weekly and monthly goals. Your new “multitasking life” as a student, employee and family member will be hectic and stressful and goal setting will be essential to supporting your success.

In addition to your work, family and school commitments, you will be challenged in your new clinical practice setting. This is an anxiety producing time for you as you challenge yourself with new content, patient assignments and clinical paperwork. Stress management and self-care are essential during this time as you begin your coursework and develop in your clinical practice.

Balancing provides you with the ability to continually prioritize your workload and maintain self-motivation as you work on achieving your personal and professional goals. It also provides for those unexpected times when you need to add on an assignment, workday or event.

As you begin to determine your goals during your school experiences, consider that maintaining life balance, as a student requires a combination of both external and internal goal setting. External goals will help to meet your personal and professional obligations and internal goals will allow time for self-reflection and to experience your individual personal living.

Examples of External Goals:

  • Professional: The goals you set for your professional life as a working nurse and student.
  • Social: Meeting your social needs and taking time for yourself.
  • Family: Fulfilling family responsibilities and creating healthy limitations.
  • Fun: Allowing time for activities you take enjoy without impeding your goal attainment.

Examples of Internal Goals:

  • Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually and creating opportunities for relaxation.
  • Spirit: Giving and receiving care from individuals and pets.
  • Health: Maintain balanced nutrition and engage in exercise and adequate rest.

As you begin to determine your personal balance during your educational pursuit, consider the following:

  • Acknowledge- take time to assess your current day-to-day life, state of mind, and how you’re feeling.
  • Examine- assess your current balance of internal or external focus.
  • Set Goals- prepare your list of goals to accomplish daily, weekly and monthly. Prioritize the list based on requirements, significance, and due dates to guide your goal attainment and life balance. Prepare a calendar to keep yourself accountable, place this in a prominent place and cross off goals as you achieve them!
  • Plan Your Goals- what will you need to do to achieve each goal? What have you attempted previously? Use success strategies from past goal setting and achievement to meet your current goals.
  • Reflection- what is the most significant goal you have accomplished? How did you remain focused toward achieving this goal? How did you control your fear and anxiety? Remember how it felt to accomplish the goal! Strive towards achieving your goals and keep your focus!
  • Preparation and Planning- what will keep you from working towards your goals? Determine your personal barriers and write these down. View the barriers daily and continue to be sensitive to their influence. Create new patterns for personal success that resist these barriers.
  • Empower- empower and allow yourself to move forward in goal attainment and personal achievement. You can do this!
  • Connect To Support Systems- determine an individual or approach you can use to keep supported, motivated, and focused. Connect with your past, present and future to keep yourself grounded. Find a nursing mentor to guide your success. Celebrate goal achievement to maintain your enthusiasm.
  • Connect To Your Inner Creativity- personal creativity provides time for relaxation and produces increased productivity.
  • Time Management- learn to say “No” and overcome the guilt. Examine your core values and time commitments that align with these values. Say, “Yes” to activities that support reaching your goals. Work on time-management skills and life balance will follow.

As you begin your road to becoming a DNP, use these suggestions to guide you in your discovery of the balance between professional, personal and educational responsibilities. Divide your time in a way that supports your commitments to yourself and others. Incorporating practices that reduce the stress associated with school is essential to your well being and success.

Make the changes necessary to allow for more control of your life while you enrolled in nursing school. It will be important to be present, dependable and accountable to ensure you make a positive impact in yourself and others.
To achieve physical and emotional health, assess your individual needs and priorities. The benefit of achieving balance in your life will be worth the time spent to support achieving your nursing goals.

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How to achieve goals as a nursing student

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