Best career advice for nurses, from nurses

These tips might be about nursing, but they apply to just about anyone

The tight-knit team of 22 students graduated in January.

We asked nurses of all types, degrees and experience levels to share their most helpful and valuable career advice, and they delivered a wealth of tips to help fellow nurses succeed in their health care careers.

As you’ll see, some common themes emerged. Nurses have many options and opportunities various fields, subspecialties and businesses within the health care industry and beyond.

Nicholas McGowan

BSN, RN, CCRN, Critical Care Academy

“I can’t recommend the power of networking enough. Each person you meet, especially in health care, may potentially connect you with a future opportunity that accelerates your career. Whether that be a new job, a strategy to increase your income, or to further your education — always seek opportunities to meet new people and be open to learn from their experience. And when it comes to meeting new people, don’t judge a book by its cover. The patient you are caring for, the housekeeper, or the individual you call for tech support just may be the keyholder to one of the most exciting opportunities in your career.”

Brittney Wilson

BSN, RN, founder of the Nerdy Nurse and best-selling author

“There is more than one way to be a nurse, and you don’t have to get an advanced degree or more certifications to change your career path. Often nurses find themselves burning out in one specialty or setting and feel like they have no other options. But, they have SO many options. Nurses can work outside the hospital, they can work remotely, or they can own their own businesses. There are so many flavors of nursing. Don’t let anyone tell you that bedside clinical nursing is the only way to be a nurse.”

Jenna Liphart Rhoads

Ph.D., RN, CNE, advisor at NurseTogether

“Never be afraid to ask questions or for more clarification. It is better to seek clarification or better understanding than it is to make a mistake in your nursing care or appear uninterested in educating yourself further. Asking questions may lead to opened doors professionally, and may even prevent patient-care errors.”

Understand that your growth will not always happen in the places or environments where you want it to. Be okay with leaving where you are to level up elsewhere.

- Alice Benjamin, APRN, MSN, ACNS-BC, FNP-C, CCRN, CEN, CV-BC, and chief medical officer and correspondent for

Sara Lentz

DNP, MSN, RN, CNL at Heritage Dignity Health

Get to know everyone you work with, from the top to the bottom of the organizational structure. It doesn’t matter if someone is cooking, providing bedside care, or a chief — everybody is there for a common goal and a part of your work family.”

Leah Parker


“Every day is a new adventure. Find your ‘good fit’. The thing I love about our field is there are so many vast and different types of opportunities for us. Do not stay somewhere where you do not feel valued, or that is not giving you joy. Life is too short to be miserable. I currently work for an amazing company called Matrix Medical Network where I travel across South Carolina traveling to the homes of Medicare patients. I really enjoy this job. I find it is a good fit for me and as a result I am happy, and I think my patients can feel that happiness and joy.”

Teri Dreher

RN, iRNPA CCM and Owner/CEO, NShore Patient Advocates

“The best advice I ever received was when my nurse manager told me about the emerging field of private professional patient advocacy. It has been a great fit for me, and I am so grateful I took her advice. My heart breaks for what hospital nurses have been going through this past year. One of the great things about nursing is that you can change your specialty if one field is burning you out and move to another, like I did.”

One nurse-turned-CEO in Atlanta urges you to take your career into your own hands and really forge your own path.

Gail Trauco

RN, BSN-OCN - CEO The PharmaKon LLC

Be brave, bold and continue to re-invent yourself. Some nurses have the genetic drive and composition to be CEOs. You are an educated clinician who solves administrative issues, implements business strategies, and improves clinical processes. You contribute more than an average employee and know you are capable of more. Your instincts push you above and beyond expectations. Step out of your comfort zone. Follow inspirational leaders. Continue to re-invent yourself as you grow professionally. If you have an innovative idea to start your company, do your research and validate the concept. Be a disruptor to the healthcare system to improve quality. Practice inclusion and diversity. Be brave, bold, and start your company.”

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