What Nursing Career Goals Should You Be Working Toward? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

It’s said that if you shoot for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. 

That’s why it’s vital to take the time to establish career goals as a nurse. 

You might be a goal-setting pro, or maybe you’re full of great intentions but have no idea where to begin to set effective and attainable nursing career goals. 

Either way, we’re sure you and your career will benefit from these 10 nursing career goal examples from the team at Trusted Nurse Staffing. 


Table of Contents



Why Are Career Goals for Nurses Important?

Setting career goals as a nurse offers a wide variety of benefits that include helping you:

  • Plan your career path: Understanding what you want to achieve as a nurse gives you the tools you need to figure out how to reach your goals. 
  • Stand out in your field: You don’t have to be in nursing very long to realize the field is ever-changing. Setting nursing career goals that focus on keeping your skills and knowledge sharp can help you stay competitive as a nursing professional.
  • Enhance your quality of care: As a nurse who is choosing to continually improve your skills and knowledge, you’ll be equipped to provide higher standards of care for your patients.
  • Motivate you to do your best: Having long-term career goals as a nurse can inspire you to stay motivated to further your education, improve your skills, and provide the highest level of patient care.
  • Boost your earning potential: Your nursing salary is influenced by a number of factors, such as your education, skill level, and certifications. Setting nursing career goals that focus on advancing your education or fine-tuning your abilities can help you negotiate for a higher salary.


How To Set Career Goals as a Nurse

You’ll want to start out by creating a list that includes questions like:

  • What skills do you want to work on? 
  • What inspired you to become a nurse? 
  • Are there any specialties or certifications you’d like to pursue?
  • Where would you like to be in your career ten years from now?

As you brainstorm goals, be sure to:

  • Make them realistic: Consider using the SMART goal strategy to design nursing career goals that are both attainable and practical.
  • Put your goals on a timeline: Timelines are a great way to ensure steady progress toward achieving your career goals in nursing. You can create sub-tasks to help you meet smaller objectives as you knock out your more ambitious career goals. 
  • Re-evaluate as needed: Your nursing career goals don’t have to be set in stone. As your life changes, it’s likely that your goals will, too. Be comfortable allowing your objectives to ebb and flow if you discover they are too simple or ambitious.
  • Choose fulfilling goals: If you don’t find a goal rewarding, you’re not going to be willing to put in the work. 


nursing career goals examples


10 Nursing Career Goal Examples

This list of nursing career goal examples is by no means exhaustive, and you may come up with different goals based on your unique path. This is, however, a great place to start if you want to set goals and aren’t sure what they should be.


#1: Pursue Professional Certifications

As a nurse, you have many options when it comes to adding additional certifications that can: 

  • Enhance your career opportunities
  • Validate your knowledge and skills
  • Increase your job security
  • Provide opportunities for professional development
  • Allow you to network with other healthcare professionals
  • Contribute to your personal growth
  • Secure higher pay

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers reimbursement to our nurses for certifications, as well as licensing and CEUs (continuing education units). Use our Pronto job search to get started today!


nursing career goals


#2: Increase Your Technology Acumen

Becoming an expert in technology is a requirement in today’s nursing world. Even if you feel you’re already comfortable with tech, simply blink, and there’ll be something new for you to learn.

As a nurse, you may need to stay current on how to navigate:

  • Advanced technical devices and systems
  • Electronic health records 
  • Portable patient monitors 
  • Telehealth service
  • Troubleshooting issues with your facility’s healthcare technology


#3: Find a Mentor

Finding the right mentor can be a HUGE step in advancing your nursing career.

Your mentor can help you determine and achieve your nursing career goals and depending on where you work, your facility may even offer a mentorship program. Regardless, there are also plenty of options you can explore through your professional nursing organization. 

You may also choose to consider asking a nurse you especially admire to mentor you informally. Partnering with someone who has progressed further in their career can help you formulate practical and achievable goals.


#4: Build Your Communication Skills

Day in and day out, nurses communicate with patients and their families, physicians, facility staff, and each other. Stellar communication skills are another must in the nursing field. 

Focusing on building excellent written and verbal communication skills, along with practicing active listening, will help you become the best possible nurse.

You’ll also want to become skilled at interpreting body language by paying attention to your patients’ and coworkers’ physical responses as you interact with them. For example, if you notice your patient furrowing their brow as you explain a procedure, you’ll want to ask questions to ensure they have a full understanding of what is taking place. 


career goals nurse


#5: Work Toward a Specialty

Travel nursing can help you decide which specialty you like best because it allows you to try out multiple areas of nursing in various facilities and locations.

Even though you’ll become well-versed in many areas of nursing, it’s generally wise to choose a specialty to master. 

How do you choose? Often it’s helpful to think about why you decided to enter the nursing profession in the first place. Did you have a family member who was ill? Are you passionate about helping children? 

Whatever the reason, there are many areas you can choose from for specialization, including:

  • Pediatrics 
  • Neonatal 
  • Orthopedics
  • Med-surg
  • Neuroscience
  • Gastroenterology
  • Gynecology
  • Ambulatory care
  • Oncology
  • Cardiovascular 
  • Dialysis 
  • Geriatrics
  • Obstetrics
  • Psychiatric or mental health care


#6: Advance Your Degree

Once you’ve landed on your specialty, consider pursuing an advanced degree. 

An advanced degree can:

  • Increase your skills and knowledge
  • Give you the legal requirements needed to increase your scope of practice 
  • Raise your earning potential

If you have an associate degree, consider a bachelor’s in nursing. If you have your bachelor’s, consider getting your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Holding a DNP or MSN opens the door to becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), which allows you to assess, diagnose, and create treatment plans for patients. In some states, you may also be able to prescribe medications.

Depending on the specialty you’ve selected, an advanced degree may be a requirement.


#7: Find a Good Work-Life Balance

Between long shifts, juggling multiple tasks, and tending to the needs of your patients, the nursing profession can be beyond busy. 

When you understand the fine art of self-care, you’ll be better equipped to perform your duties at peak efficiency, including providing better care to your patients. 

To strike the optimal work-life balance, consider maintaining your overall well-being by: 

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Staying hydrated
  • Pursuing hobbies
  • Living an active lifestyle

Travel nursing is the perfect way to create the work-life balance you desire since it allows you to take jobs when you want — giving you plenty of time off to care for yourself. 


nursing career goals


#8: Become More Efficient

Efficiency usually pays off — especially when it comes to juggling a multitude of nursing responsibilities. 

Here are a few ideas you can consider implementing to increase your efficiency: 

  • Define your daily intentions: On the night before or morning of your workday, set aside a few minutes to jot down your intentions for the day. What are some specific goals? What tasks do you need to accomplish? What habits do you want to be intentional to practice today? 
  • Focus on organization: Plan out each day — including downtime. Options for planning methods include:
    • Google Calendar
    • Apps like Todoist or Actions
    • A physical planner 
    • A pen and paper
  • Prioritization: Both professionally and personally, people in tasks are constantly vying for your attention. That’s why it’s so important that you prioritize keeping things first. For optimal efficiency, consider structuring your day to accomplish the most taxing responsibilities when you have the highest energy.


#9: Advocate for Patients

A key aspect of a nurse’s job is providing the highest quality of care to their patients. And one of the best ways to do this is by advocating for their needs.

Make a difference in your patients’ lives and treatment by:

  • Mediating treatment plan conversations between patients and their physicians
  • Explaining hard-to-understand medical terminology
  • Keeping patients’ families updated on their progress
  • Advising patients on their legal rights 
  • Teaching patients how to advocate for their own healthcare services
  • Communicating patient wishes to physicians and other medical professionals 
  • Engaging in public forums about healthcare protocols
  • Write to l policymakers about needed healthcare initiatives
  • Joining your state professional nursing association


sample nursing career goals


#10: Travel and Explore as Part of Your Job

This is where the unique and exciting job of a travel nurse shines!

Not only is travel nursing a great choice for all the reasons we’ve mentioned, but it also allows you to see the country while you work — and seriously, what could be better than that?

Want to spend some time with an out-of-town family member? Find an assignment near their home.

Does time at the beach sound like the perfect way to spend your weekends? Apply for jobs in Florida or Hawaii.

Are the mountains calling your name? There are plenty of travel nursing positions available in Colorado or Utah.

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, you can make your personal and professional travel goals come true. 


Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here To Help You Meet Your Career Goals in Nursing

When you’re putting together your list of travel nursing career goals, be sure to put hitting the road with Trusted Nurse Staffing at the very top. 

Not only are we an award-winning travel nursing agency, but we’re also committed to helping our nurses achieve their nursing career goals. 

We also offer a plethora of amazing benefits that include:

  • Competitive compensation:
    • 401(k) with 4% a match after 1,000 hours and 1 year of employment
    • Weekly paychecks
    • Direct deposit
    • Overtime and double time
    • Customizable pay packages
  • Top-tier benefits:
    • $1500 referral bonus program
    • Welcome box
    • Loyalty and discount programs
  • Health and wellness benefits
    • Employer-sponsored health insurance
    • An HRA to fully cover deductibles
    • Guardian dental and vision insurance
    • Wellness benefits
    • Portable permanent whole life insurance
    • License, certification & CEU reimbursements
    • Portable short-term and long-term disability insurance
  • Flexible work options:
    • Flexible contract option, including full-time, part-time, and per diem assignments
    • Housing, meal, and travel stipends
    • Rental car options

One of the most exciting benefits we offer is student loan assistance after you’ve been on board with Trusted Nurse Staffing for 90 days. We understand the financial investment our nurses make to start their careers. That’s why we’re happy to provide tax-free student loan reimbursements of up to $5,250 each year.

With the Trusted Nurse Staffing team by your side, you’ll be realizing your nursing career goals in no time! Use our Pronto job search to find your dream assignment today.


nursing career goals