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How to... get ahead this year

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What do you want to achieve in the year ahead? If any of your new year’s resolutions involved setting yourself challenges in your career, Susan Hughes from the Health, Learning and Skills Advice Line has some great practical ideas to help you achieve your goals.

Here at the advice line it’s been a busy time as nursing staff are starting to set themselves fresh challenges for the year ahead. Now that summer is nearly here, there couldn’t be a better time to take the initiative and declare that this is the time to start making some changes.

‘How do I introduce some focus to my career development?’ is one of the most common questions we’re asked at the advice line. A good starting point is to acknowledge the skills you already have. To help you do this, there are a range of tools available from the Skills for Health website here which have been developed to make it easier for you to map your competences across a range of settings.

For example, the self-assessment tool enables you to highlight your abilities and can help you to identify where you strengths and weaknesses lie. There’s also another tool that allows you to map your competences against the KSF outlines for specific posts - useful information to help you prepare for an appraisal.

Your PREP portfolio is you and your role in nursing in a nutshell. If you feel the CPD you’ve undertaken is patchy and unfocused, reviewing you portfolio is a great exercise to generate some ideas. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day demands of work, take time out to delve into the notes you have taken and reflect on any observations you’ve made. Make the commitment that by the end of the year, your portfolio will reflect someone who is highly motivated and who has taken on every learning and development opportunity they could.

Other things you can do to get ahead this year:

  • Update your CV - we can help you with this at the advice line.
  • Go to at least one nursing event each year - a fantastic opportunity to network!
  • Sign up to online discussion forums for nurses, where you can share ideas and ask for opinions.
  • Contact your school of nursing to see what workshops and study days they may have on offer - this can stimulate interest in new areas.

A recent Nursing Times survey suggests that many nurses are thinking of funding training from their own pockets. While finding financial support for training and developing ideas and initiatives can be a struggle sometimes, don’t forget that the RCN and the Foundation for Nursing Studies both offer a range of awards and scholarships. The Career Development Loan is an option for further and higher education.

It’s also worth keeping a sharp eye on developments that may affect your career. The Department of Health recently launched a consultation called Towards a Framework for Post-Registration Nursing: a national consultation, which could result in new career paths in nursing. Being one of the first to know about new opportunities could give you a head start!

Run by the Careers Advice Service and sponsored by NHS Careers and Skills for Health, the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line provides information to support people working in healthcare. The friendly, trained career coaches can also give you constructive feedback on your CV and help assess your skills.

For a free, confidential discussion about your career, call freephone 08000 150 850 from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

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