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Nursing Excellence

The Online Newsletter for Children's Nurses
e-Edition, Volume 1, Issue 3 

Career Path to Success

An BrunelleDenise VermeltfoortAn Brunelle, MA
HR Business Partner

 Denise Vermeltfoort, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Director Regulatory and Clinical Practice

Career development opportunities abound for nurses with an eye to the future. Healthcare professionals looking to build a lifetime career based on the foundation of Nursing have many and varied paths from which to choose.

Career development theories break the process into phases, usually associated with age or generational perceptions of the relationship of work to life, attempting to categorize or explain what people need at different points in career progression. For example, during the Career Entry phase of your nursing life, you may be trying different specialties or departments looking for the environments that match your interests, skills and temperament. During the beginning of your career path you may encounter some confusion, misunderstanding or difficulty committing to a role that doesn’t feel like a “perfect fit.” During this period there is an opportunity to try different roles before reaching an understanding of what direction you may want to follow.

The second phase of the process is Career Progression. This is usually the time when you start setting solid career goals for the future. This often involves adapting to unexpected realities such as conflicts between career and family commitments. This is a time when you might be making professional connections, serving on association boards and becoming active in your field. You may still be grappling with defining a career direction, finding job satisfaction and perceiving opportunities for yourself.

During the Career Refinement years you may be continuing to learn new skills and take on new challenges but you have probably chosen and continue to confirm your career direction. During this phase you may re-evaluate your earlier choices and assess the risks of stagnation and the challenges of change. You may be asking yourself whether further training would promote advancement or lateral opportunities might revitalize your career enthusiasm.

Children's nursesIn the later years of your career, sometimes call Career Disengagement, you may find great satisfaction in preparing to pass the baton by helping to educate the next generation of nurses. Or you might be expanding your interests outside of work, reinvesting in home and family pursuits or exploring totally new ways to contribute. This phase may allow you to think outside the box about what is important and valuable to you as an individual. Your years of experience and service provide you with a great foundation for exploring creative options for utilizing your nursing skills The Clinical Advancement Program (CAP) is available to support your development and progression along the career path. Participation in the program results in gaining new knowledge and skill, recognition for clinical expertise and increases your earning potential. It also provides a path to long term professional development. The Children’s Hospital CAP is based on the following guiding principles:

  • Nursing professionals are accountable for their own practice and development
  • Supports clinical excellence based on evidence-based practice and quality outcomes
  • Contributes to the professional practice of nursing
  • Links individual goals to department and organizational priorities
  • Promotes succession planning
  • Develops nursing leadership

Magnet LogoCareer pathways built into the CAP include preparation for roles in the areas of education, leadership and clinical specialization. If you have an interest in pursuing the career path of an educator, you can elect to fulfill CAP requirements by focusing your efforts in the category of Leadership Indicators in the area of “providing clinical education” or “functioning as a clinical instructor for academic nursing related program”. These opportunities provide experience in the identification of learning needs, establishment of outcomes, and development, delivery and evaluation of education curriculum...

Another career path supported by the CAP is that of leadership. Focusing your efforts in areas such as “committee/task force participation” or “leader of a special project” can provide you with great experiences as a leader. “Active participation in a professional nursing organization” can provide you with opportunities to further develop your leadership skills allowing you to demonstrate your ability to lead and facilitate in a broader, community-based arena.

Specialization is another option. Achieving national certification and clinical expertise in specialized areas of Nursing can support your focus in a specific area of interest while completing CAP requirements. Research and publication in your area of expertise further contributes to the professional practice of nursing as well as supporting your career development.

All career paths in nursing have the potential to be incredibly rewarding. Whatever your phase of career growth and development, the Clinical Advancement Program, along with other continuing education opportunities can open the door to exploring new opportunities and establishing a satisfying professional career path. Your supervisor is a good resource and is available to guide and support your career pathway and participation in the CAP.


References Children's Hospital Central California Organization Development Department, CORE Program, Conversations for Career Development presentation; CORE Career Development Class (Donald Super’s Career Development Theory) Super, D.E. (1957), the Psychology of Careers, New York: Harper & Row


In This Issue
Seasons of Change
Change and Transition
Career Path to Success
Decreasing Medication Errors Through Reporting of Unusual Occurrences
Demystifying Simulation
Breastfeeding: Improving the Health of Baby and Mom
Addressing Parent’s Fear of the MMR Vaccine
NICU Nursing in Nepal