Are you a nurse with a specialty in mind? Maybe you want to expand your scope of nursing practice by learning more about another type of medicine, or maybe you want to challenge yourself. Either way, there are plenty of ways to grow as a nurse and extend your knowledge base through education and other pursuits outside work hours. Here are ways that nurses can take the first step toward expanding their knowledge beyond their current specialty.
Pursue a post-masters degree in nursing
When considering the scope of nursing practice, a post-master’s degree in nursing is an excellent option. This degree can be earned either online or on campus and is great for people who like to keep their options open by pursuing a generalist program. You can choose to specialize in one area of nursing, such as clinical research or public health, or you can choose to pursue a generalist program that will allow you more flexibility when applying for jobs.
A master’s degree will also expand your knowledge base and increase your skill set. This can come in handy during salary negotiations, allowing you to hold your own with other applicants who have completed similar post-graduate studies but may have less experience. It’s also worth noting that many employers prefer candidates with a post-MSN over those with an MSN.
To learn more about how online post-master FNP programs can impact your nursing career, click here. Rockhurst University’s program can be completed in just four semesters through 100% online coursework and additional clinical hours.
Join a nursing specialty organization
Nursing specialty organizations are great ways to network with other nurses, get up to date on issues in the industry, and find sources for continuing education. Specialty organizations often publish journals and newsletters that provide information about the latest developments in their field. Some also offer certification programs for nurses who want to specialize in a specific care area (or become an expert more generally). In addition, these organizations host conferences, seminars and workshops where you can meet colleagues from around the country and experts in your field. Not only is this an excellent way to learn more about your profession, but it’s also just plain fun.
Get certified in your specialty
Certification is an excellent way to show your expertise and commitment to your specialty. Employers in the healthcare field place a lot of weight on certification because it shows that you have completed courses, exams, and continuing education that align with their proficiency standards.
Certifications are beneficial for job seekers and current employees alike. If you’re looking for new opportunities or ways to grow within your current organization, certification can help open doors.
Certified professionals earn more than those without formal recognition of their skill set. When employers look at resumes or interview candidates, they are likely to be drawn toward someone with credentials indicating dedication to their chosen path, including passing national examinations related to specific areas of practice such as pediatrics or gerontology.
Take additional courses in your field
When you’re looking to expand your scope of practice, it’s a good idea to take courses that will help you develop new skills or learn more about the field. You can also study for a certificate or degree if that appeals to you. Taking additional courses helps develop your career by giving you the advanced knowledge and expertise needed to keep up with changing technology and research in nursing practice.
Another way to expand your scope is by becoming an expert in a particular area of nursing practice. Nurses can become experts on certain types of patients, conditions or care plans, which will help them provide high-quality care for their patients. You can become an expert by:
- Taking classes on specific topics such as diabetes management, Alzheimer’s disease care or tracheostomy care
- Reading books and articles about those topics
- Going through online resources provided by experts in those fields (for example, webinars)
Share your knowledge
Knowledge is power, and sharing it with others benefits everyone. You may be an expert in a specific subject or field of nursing, but how does the world benefit from your knowledge? When you share your expertise with others through writing blog posts or articles for publications, you’re expanding the scope of nursing practice by showing others how to do things better. Sharing your knowledge also increases your visibility as a nurse and can help establish credibility in the field.
Publishing your work is one of the best ways to become an expert in your field and get recognition. It will also help you establish a name for yourself, which can be beneficial both professionally and personally. Not only will publishing get the word out about what you have done, but it can also help you connect with others doing similar research or projects, which can lead to further opportunities down the road.
Seek out opportunities to speak on your specialty
In addition to speaking at local nursing organizations, you can also speak at local hospitals. These talks will give you exposure and expand your network. You can also seek out speaking opportunities at conferences and other significant events that attract nurses and members of the public alike.
In addition to giving presentations, consider giving workshops or teaching classes on a wide range of topics relevant to your specialty. A good way to get started is by contacting local colleges and universities; many schools are always looking for guest speakers.
Present at national conferences
You can present at a national conference by submitting a poster or abstract. If you can present a full-length paper, that is even better. It will help build your reputation as an expert in your field and allow you to make valuable connections with other nurses and healthcare professionals who work in related fields.
You should consider presenting at conferences whenever possible. In addition to being beneficial for building recognition as an expert in your nursing field, presenting at conferences allows you to share your knowledge and expertise with others who are interested in learning from you – which could lead them down the path towards becoming better nurses themselves.
Subspecialize your training and education
Subspecialization is an advanced nursing level requiring further education, training and experience. Subspecialties are available in various areas, including oncology, gerontology, pediatrics and psychosocial care. They require specific training that may be obtained through additional graduate school programs or post-graduate certification from hospitals or other organizations.
Those pursuing subspecialty degrees will find they can earn more than general practice nurses due to the increased responsibility that comes with this advanced training and education. Nurses who specialize typically have more clinical responsibilities, which can translate into greater leadership roles within their practice settings and higher earning potential because they offer their employers greater value than generalist nurses.
Volunteer outside of work hours, if you can swing it
Volunteering to help others is a great way to gain experience, learn more about your field and build your resume. There are many ways to volunteer outside of work hours.
You can join the board of an organization that works in your area of interest. For example, if you’re passionate about nursing home care, become active in a local association for nursing home professionals. You can also volunteer at events sponsored by these associations and connect with people with similar interests.
You can volunteer with an organization that provides medical services or education in underserved communities. For example, find out if there’s a local chapter of Doctors Without Borders near you. If there isn’t one nearby but another organization providing similar services (for example, food banks), contact them about volunteering opportunities.
Helping people is good for the soul – but it can also be good for your career. Volunteering allows you to expand your scope of practice while helping others improve their quality of life.
Mentor other nurses
The best way to learn is by teaching others. As a nurse, you have knowledge and experience that others don’t have. Mentoring other nurses can help you share your expertise and grow as a nurse while also allowing you to develop leadership skills and build confidence in an area of your practice that isn’t usually in the spotlight.
Think about what nursing topics commonly give patients difficulty, such as setting up an IV or interpreting lab results. These are areas where everyone can benefit from some extra guidance.
Teach nursing classes part-time at a community college or university
If you have a passion for teaching and want to earn extra money while making a difference in people’s lives, then consider teaching nursing classes part-time at a community college or university.
Teaching is always beneficial because it enables you to learn the subject matter you are teaching. It also allows you to share your enthusiasm with others and expand your scope of nursing practice.
However, additional training and certification are required to become an instructor at a college or university. Additionally, this type of job requires that most (if not all) of your time be spent teaching during the evenings or weekends, depending on class schedules and when course enrollment is available for students. You’ll need patience and motivation if this sounds like something that might interest you.
Do research on your specialty area of interest
When you are working in a specialty area of interest, it is crucial to research your chosen field. This will not only help you understand the latest information about your specialty area, but it will also help you learn about new treatments and cures. In addition to researching the latest treatments and cures, research can help you identify trends in different areas of nursing practice. By understanding these trends, you can ensure that the care your patients receive is always up to date with the most current techniques available in medicine.
Become a telehealth nurse
Telehealth is a growing field within nursing, and it’s one you can use to expand your scope of practice. Telehealth allows nurses to provide remote patient care with the use of technology. This can include healthcare software, webcams, or other devices that allow communication between patients and nurses.
Telehealth offers many advantages for both patients and nurses. For example, telehealth can reduce travel time for patients far away from a facility or hospital. It also allows nurses to specialize in areas other than traditional clinical care, such as community health education and research. Telehealth can deliver primary, acute, and specialty care services, including mental health, home health, hospitalist and long-term care.
Once you have the proper training and credentials, becoming a telehealth nurse could lead to more opportunities in your career path.
Campaign for public policy changes that will improve health outcomes for patients
As a nurse, you are an essential part of the healthcare team. You provide care to patients, educate them about their health and make them feel comfortable. You play a critical role in delivering excellent care that improves the health outcomes of your patients. Advocating for changes is another way to help improve health outcomes.
Here are some ideas on how to expand your scope of nursing practice:
- Campaign for public policy changes that will improve health outcomes for patients.
- Support professional organizations that represent nurses and other healthcare professionals.
- Work with local politicians to draft legislation that addresses issues important to nurses and other healthcare professionals.
- Attend meetings and conventions where you can learn about new developments in nursing education and practice.
- Write articles for local newspapers about topics such as quality improvement, patient safety or improving access to quality healthcare services.
- Join local organizations that promote awareness about important issues such as public health issues and access to quality healthcare services.
Serve on boards for communities in which you live
Serving on boards for communities in which you live can provide you with a way to give back as well as a networking opportunity. For example, if you live in a rural area, serving on boards for the local hospital or school district can lead to opportunities to share your nursing knowledge with other professionals and residents of your community.
If you live in a city or suburb, membership in civic organizations can give you access to other nurses who are working in similar roles. In addition, these groups often have opportunities for volunteering at events that benefit their communities, such as fundraisers and other charity events.
Get a mentor
Finding a mentor is one of the best ways to expand your scope of nursing practice. A mentor will help you gain knowledge, experience, and confidence in your nursing career. A mentor can be a nurse with similar career goals or someone highly experienced in the field you want to pursue.
The best way to find a mentor is to ask around. Ask your friends, colleagues or family members if they know anyone with experience in the area you want to pursue. If they don’t know anyone, consider forming a support group for nurses interested in furthering their education and career goals by meeting regularly with other nurses who are also interested in expanding their scope of practice.
Some hospitals have nurse practitioners who are well-versed in all areas of nursing care and can serve as mentors for aspiring nurses interested in expanding their scope of practice.
If you can’t find a mentor locally, consider looking through online forums like LinkedIn or Facebook groups for nurses. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) also has a mentorship program that offers professional development opportunities for nurses interested in advancing their careers as nurse practitioners.
Improve your collaboration and communication skills
Collaboration is the art of working together with others toward a common goal. It involves sharing information and resources, coordinating work efforts, and collaboratively resolving problems. To be effective at collaboration, you must be able to listen to others, understand their perspectives and values, and use this information to make decisions. In addition, you must be able to work cooperatively with other nurses so that they are not just colleagues or subordinates but also partners in the care delivery process.
Effective communication allows nurses to learn from each other’s experiences and share their ideas and knowledge with each other. Good communication also allows nurses to provide patients with accurate information about their condition so that they can make informed decisions about treatment options.
Pushing yourself will help you grow both personally and professionally
Your professional success depends on how well you can push yourself in new directions as a nurse. When you find something that makes your heart race or challenges your mind, take it on.
In addition to helping you expand your scope of practice and build confidence, these experiences will help you grow personally. You’ll be learning new skills and gaining valuable experience. And if all goes well, this might become the foundation for a new career path.
In closing, we hope that these tips have given you some food for thought. If you want to expand your nursing practice scope, don’t be afraid to try something new. Remember that learning is a lifelong process and that the most important thing is to keep an open mind when exploring new opportunities.