Now that we’ve completed the first month of this 2016 year, it can be a good time to reassess the plans that you made for the New Year. As a nurse, often we look at our nursing careers to see how far they have come and what we would like to accomplish in the upcoming months.

Nursing Career Goals: 3 Tips to Achieving Success!A great post by fellow blogger Nurse Keith Carlson who writes for, posted on strategic planning in nursing careers. Keith mentions that a successful plan is one that is planned, reassessed, and then planned again. It isn’t like you can set up your plan and leave it to work itself. A successful nurse leader makes plans and then re-evaluates them again and again over time.

I wonder then, why do we sometimes fall short with proactive planning? How come nursing groups struggle to do things in advance? From professional experience, I have witnessed and been a part of a fair share of reactionary decisions that come up quickly, without much foresight. Here’s a few examples, see if you can relate:

  • Your nursing education committee is tasked with planning a day of inquiry for the nursing staff at your organization. It’s just two months from the event and your group hasn’t invited the clinical staff to the program, yet. Now we all know that nursing schedules are made weeks in advance- how will you ensure any attendance to this event?
  • You are enrolled in a master’s degree program online. You were given notice of a research paper at the start of the semester. The dates have all been spelled out along the way, yet why is it that you wait until the week it is due to start the first draft of the paper?
  • Your unit has worked diligently on an evidence-based practice project all year long. Now the specialty organization you are a member of is having their annual conference (as they do each year). You get an email about the abstract submission deadline… wait, that isn’t the first email you received about this. Yet, now, you are bringing this to your group and wondering if you can get an abstract together in time…

Sure, these are nursing examples. And we also have ‘life’ examples, as I am sure it isn’t just nurses that are putting things off and not being proactive with their planning. Yet why does this so often occur and what can we do about it? I am sure we will hear in the comments below of many reasons that create a challenge with proactivity in planning- here are just a few:

  • The very nature of the profession- there are so many competing priorities, clinical care being the first and foremost!
  • The very nature of life- sure, our career is important to us… yet we also have family, friends, and our own work life balance to stay mindful of

So if we are unable to plan ahead- or strike that, not unable- just find it challenging… what can be done to help? How can we take a more proactive approach? I’d love to hear your thoughts below and here are a few that come to mind…

  1. Keep Your Head on a Swivel. As my awesome nurse colleague (and one of the co-hosts of RNFM Radio) Kevin Ross states: keep your head on a swivel. What he means by this is stay abreast of opportunities. And shift as things arise. So sure, there are going to be competing priorities that come up (think electronic charting changes, clinical building moves, or new policies for infection control)… but this is ALWAYS going to be the case. You cannot let other ‘things’ (big or small) get in the way of your strategic plan. It can be the one thing that helps you stay on course as you move towards your goals.
  2. Leverage Strengths. When we focus on what we are good at and enjoy, it makes for greater chances of success. The thing is when you are engaged in tasks that are energizing, you are automatically propelled forward by the actions you take. So, look to the group and see who has a habit of sticking to the agenda. Observe your colleagues and tap into the organized workers in the group. It’s important to know what works and fuel those fires to stay on target.
  3. Tap into Resources. There are so many things out there these days- calendars, mobile apps, shared documents- that can help your work group stay on task. Another idea is to look at the past to see what has worked and use that to inform your future. So, if you participated in a program the year prior- look at what worked and what didn’t… then shift accordingly. So, repeat what works and change what didn’t.

A final plug here for Nurse’s Week- as the host of the virtual conference, The Art of Nursing, I encourage you to start early. Plan ahead to give your nurses the best gift possible this year. Let’s talk about how we can bring this amazing program to your organization.

What did we miss? I’d love to hear additional suggestions from you in the comments below on how we can be proactive with our strategic planning in order to reach our goals. Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN; Founder of Nursing from WithinAbout the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.



Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


Get your FREE 3-part video series!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!