Resources >> Browse Articles >> Career Advancement

Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job


How to Score in Your Nursing Career

How to Score in Your Nursing Career

Laura Wisniewski RN, BS, CIC


Change is occurring in all areas of healthcare. Are you prepared for it? When it comes to your career are you reactive or proactive? Reactive nurses ignore the warning signs of change. By remaining unprepared, they leave their career development to chance or the decisions of others. The proactive nurse observes trends, sets goals and consistently takes career building action. In contrast, they have already learned the rules of the game and are ready to win at it.


Successful career management is simple once you understand the rules of the game and follow the strategies of winners. It will take hard work, determination and practice to achieve your goals. Victory belongs to those individuals who have earned it. The acronym SCORE will help you to remember the qualities of a winning nursing career. SCORE stands for: Skills, Confidence, Opportunity, Readiness/ Risk and Experience/ Education.


Can you quickly list the skills that you possess? Are they recorded and regularly updated on your resume? As a nurse, you have already acquired many valuable skills such as: critical thinking, time management, supervising the work of others, and conflict resolution. What other skills do you have? Have you acted as the relief charge nurse? Do you precept new nurses or provide in-services for your department? Are you one of the few nurses on your unit that can operate a specialized piece of equipment? Do you mentor student nurses? Are you a whiz on the computer and can create PowerPoint presentations? What skills do other nurses have that you don’t have? Who is your competition for nursing positions that interest you? The answers to these questions will serve as a starting point for developing your game plan.


Self- confidence comes from belief in yourself and your abilities. Taking control of your career is one way to help build your self- confidence. Study confident people. Recall an image of a confident person that you know. How do they dress? What is the quality and pace of their voice? How do they use body language, eye contact or gestures? What else makes them appear confident to you? Do you possess the winning attitude of confidence or do you need practice?


Opportunity consists of two parts; the first is the ability to recognize an opportunity and the second is the willingness to go for it! Attend job fairs. Routinely review want ads and job postings for nurses. Read books and articles on career management. What are the educational opportunities in your area? Consider Internet training programs. Ask successful nurses to mentor you. Expand your network by participating on committees and joining professional nursing organizations. It has been said that the best defense is a good offense.


In order to obtain the career results you desire, preparation and training are essential. Start with a great resume, if you need help creating one, ask for assistance. Maintain a professional portfolio containing your certifications, awards and letters of recommendation. Have a business appropriate outfit that is ready to wear for interviews. Regularly practice your interviewing skills. Actively seek training to continually build your skills. In order to win at anything you also must be willing to risk failure. Failure is not the opposite of winning…not trying is.


Do you have fifteen years of experience doing the same thing or have you had multiple experiences over a fifteen year period? You may find the thought of expanding your comfort zone very unsettling. An unexpected career change is even more unsettling. Cross training to other nursing units will help build a more interesting and flexible career. Becoming involved in new educational and work experiences will also expand your network of nursing colleagues.

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.