Understanding the Stages of Your Nursing Career

Nursing is not simply a job. It is a journey with rewarding moments and challenging lessons. During your career, you will grow and change. You might want to continue your education, practice in a new specialty area or manage other nurses. Every nurse’s journey has unique experiences and memorable patients. Regardless of your individual goals, there are stages that your nursing career will go through. Understanding these stages will hopefully shed light on the ever-changing nursing field. And remember that it is vital to appreciate each nursing stage and recognize the contributions you make in each step of your career.

New Nurse

The start of a nursing career is a time of excitement, eagerness and nerves! As new graduates, new nurses are proud of their accomplishments and ready to jump into the field. Nurses in this stage tend to take on every task, work extra shifts and do multiple jobs. Before taking on too much, step back. It is this stage of your career where you will build habits for the rest of your nursing career. Keep learning, improve your skills, and ask a ton of questions.

You can work closely with experienced colleagues at this stage of your career. Add to your learning by asking questions and never feel embarrassed. Your judgment will develop through experience.

Experience and Confidence

With time and practice, you will be more comfortable in your role as a nurse. However, there will always be challenges. Discourtesy, workplace violence, and poor patient outcomes will continue. There are days that will certainly be better than others, but you are learning how to manage your schedule to obtain work/life balance with confidence. You will likely settle on a specialty and find your voice as a nurse during this stage.

Professional Development

Professional development will last your entire career. It might even include a point in your career when you want a change. It might be a leadership position or another specialty. Consideration of a management position, certification in a specialty, and obtaining an advanced degree are common goals during this nursing stage. You have met the challenges and have a work/life balance. This nursing stage is the time to develop realistic goals for your professional development.


Mentorship plays a crucial role in the advancement of the nursing profession. Getting firsthand knowledge from the mouth of an experienced nurse is an excellent way to learn. Many nurses eventually desire to give back to nursing by becoming mentors. Mentorship provides the opportunity to share knowledge and wisdom while providing support. All nurses, regardless of specialty, can benefit from a mentor.

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