10 Ways to Gain Professional Nursing Experience

Professional nursing experience is invaluable when it comes to putting you in the best position to be hired as a nurse. Although employers want nurses with experience, it can feel impossible to get that experience without being employed first. But there are several ways to gain significant and relevant nursing experience that can influence employers and increase your job prospects. Not only does getting work experience give you valuable insights into the profession, it also opens up opportunities for exploring new options and specialties available after earning your degree.

Professional nursing experience will differentiate you from other candidates, helping you stand out in a crowded job market. Taking initiative and seeking out ways to become involved demonstrates an eagerness to learn that many employers find attractive in future hires. Therefore, having professional nursing experience gives you a leg up on the competition by proving your commitment and dedication to the profession.

Professional nursing experience can be obtained in a variety of ways. One way is to enroll in a graduate program specializing in nursing. Graduate programs provide the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by completing an internship or working as student nurse.

Additionally, those already holding an active license may take on residencies and fellowships with local healthcare providers or even join online nursing communities that offer mentorship and career advice. Volunteer opportunities within hospitals and community health clinics are another excellent way to gain valuable, real-world experience for professional nurses.

Finally, attending conferences and conventions related to advances in the field of nursing can prove invaluable and help grow your professional network as well. Professional nursing experience, no matter how achieved, will benefit all nurses throughout their careers, ensuring growth and success at every turn.

Ways to Gain Professional Nursing Experience

1. Look for Shadowing Opportunities

Professional nursing is known to be both rewarding and challenging and shadowing can give you a first-hand look at each aspect. It provides the opportunity of seeing what takes place within hospital walls, how nurses take part in tender moments with patients, as well as hearing topics of discussion among colleagues on shift.

Professional nursing requires great skill and attention to detail, and by shadowing experienced nurses you will be able to learn the ropes of the profession. Witnessing the work that goes into doctors and nurses making an impact on their patient’s lives can motivate a person who has aspirations for a nursing career.

Shadowing also gives you insight into some of the more difficult tasks that nurses face, allowing you to prepare yourself better should such situation arise in future employment. Professional nursing offers insight into many aspects of life, providing valuable experiences that would otherwise not be available without this type of hands-on learning experience.

2. Consider an Internship

An internship program is a great way for students in high school, college, or nursing programs to gain valuable knowledge and experience in their chosen field. Internships are not about earning money; instead, the goal should be to build relevant skills, network with professionals within the organization where you are interning, and get on the shortlist when it comes time to apply for jobs upon graduation.

It is also important to set clear expectations of what you hope to gain from participating in an internship program with your supervisor at the organization so that you can work together towards achieving a mutually beneficial outcome.

3. Find a Mentor

Finding the right mentor is essential in accelerating your career advancements. Experienced professionals can provide you with valuable insight, industry connections, and advice that can help guide your goals and make potential opportunities much more attainable.

Identifying a potential mentor should be based on who will add the most value to your career journey as well as what traits or values you identify with in another person’s success story. Establishing a relationship with a mentor is key to ensuring your professional development path is successful; having someone by your side who understands the struggles and victories of a particular field can make all the difference.

Nursing mentors:

    • Can help answer questions about nursing
    • Offer a listening ear
    • Provide encouragement and relatable insight

Making connections is one of the most important aspects in a successful career path. A mentor who has known you for a while and can speak to your strengths and knowledge within the nursing field may be just the person you need to propel you forward in your journey.

After getting to know you, they may also be willing to write a letter of recommendation for a nursing program or a nursing role after graduation. Don’t underestimate the power of positive references – it could mean the world in your attempt to secure that dream job. Investing time into establishing strong relationships with high-quality mentors will pay off threefold as you move forward on your career aspirations.

4. Get Certified in Basic Life Support and First Aid

The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross offer basic life support (BLS) classes for those seeking to equip themselves with the knowledge of how to respond to life-threatening situations. This program offers instruction on cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the use of an automated external defibrillator, and additional critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Each organization provides a range of BLS certifications that are regularly updated, and some courses even offer continuing education credits for medical practitioners such as nurses. Those who complete these courses can confidently enter any situation they may come across involving cardiac arrest or airway obstruction, knowing they have the knowledge to provide necessary care.

The American Red Cross offers a BLS class with first aid that includes dealing with:

    • Burns
    • Sudden illness
    • Lacerations
    • Neck and back injuries
    • Heat and cold emergencies

Certification in BLS and first aid reflects your unwavering dedication to healthcare, showing that you are ready and willing to pursue every avenue of education available. Your potential employer will appreciate this drive for growth!

5. Become a HOSA Future Health Professionals Member

HOSA Future Health Professionals offers a unique opportunity to empower students and cultivate future healthcare leaders. Through this international student-led organization, members can gain readiness skills for the nursing profession plus opportunities to compete for scholarship awards totaling $50,000 or more! By integrating HOSA into health science curricula, young people have an invaluable resource that helps them build meaningful careers in caring for others.

6. Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Unlock a life-changing career as a Certified Nursing Assistant! With the training and skills you’ll gain, you can provide compassionate care for those in need while making meaningful impact on lives. Take your first step into this rewarding profession today.

Certified nursing assistants are invaluable to the healthcare system, performing their duties in a range of roles and environments. From hospitals to residential care centers, these CNAs provide essential support on the front lines of patient care.

    • Nursing homes
    • Hospitals
    • Rehabilitation centers
    • Adult day care centers

Becoming a CNA can be the perfect stepping stone for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a nurse. Education and training to become certified is normally no more than eight weeks, making it an ideal way of getting hands-on experience with relatively little time commitment involved.

On top of that, prospective CNAs are paid handsomely – according to Payscale estimates from May 2022, this position brings home approximately $13.83 per hour or $30390 annually! Whether you use your newfound skillset immediately after certification or leverage them towards furthering your nursing goals down the line – becoming a CNA could take you one step closer to reaching those ambitions!

7. Volunteer

Get a competitive edge in the nursing industry without spending any money! Volunteering offers an unpaid and often overlooked way to gain valuable experience. Not only will you benefit from volunteer work, but so too may your resume for potential employers or programs.

Check out organizations like The American Red Cross near your local hospital or public health department – it could be just what’s needed to get ahead of the pack. Make sure that whatever program you choose keeps track of all those hours; supervisors sign off on their completion is also important – both can lead to glowing letters of recommendation when applying later down life’s road..

8. Think Outside the Box

Now that you’ve graduated and are having difficulty finding a nursing job, why not expand your search? There’s an abundance of opportunities available in the healthcare field beyond bedside nursing. Consider taking on PRN or “as necessary” positions for increased flexibility, pay, and experience across various specialties. You could also look into roles such as health educators and patient advocates – jobs which include industry insight while honing additional skillsets; this may even open doors to networking within these organizations!

9. Work While You’re in School

Are you a recent nursing graduate struggling to find the perfect job? Instead of focusing solely on traditional roles in healthcare, think outside the box and maximize your potential. With excellent time-management skills – essential for any successful nurse – consider taking up part-time work with your program’s associated hospital or clinic during school hours.

This will not only benefit your pocket but also provide invaluable experience that looks great on a resume! Moreover, it could lead to permanent employment post graduation; many programs even offer yearlong residency opportunities which aid graduates develop career goals while gaining necessary skillsets along their professional journey.

10. Network, Network, Network

Developing a strong network of nurse peers can provide major benefits to one’s career. Rather than overwhelming yourself with the intimidating notion of networking, think about it as simply making friends in your field! By forging these relationships you gain access to valuable insight and behind-the-scenes information that could make all the difference when new job opportunities arise. Nursing students should take advantage of this critical opportunity for professional growth–so don’t be afraid reach out today!

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