Nursing, like most other careers, has a distinct social component to it which, if harnessed correctly, can help catapult the professional’s profile or, at the very least, assist him or her when the going gets tough. Networks play an essential role in the nurse’s everyday life; when the daily grind seems too much to bear, networks can help the person to look beyond themselves and find solace in activities which could take their mind off of the stress and weariness.
Simply put, a network is a series of connections established with colleagues, peers, instructors, friends, and family, and which can offer several benefits depending on the type of persons we decide to connect with. In this sense, it’s only logical that a nurse — or any other type of professional, in general — would want to foster relationships which would help him or her grow both professionally and personally. When chosen and used correctly, networks can help professionals get a step up in their careers; positive relationships will prompt them to leave their comfort zone to learn new skills or cheer them up whenever they're feeling down, allowing them to bounce back faster from any event that might have negatively affected them.
Networking for Nurses
As it turns out, there’s a whole field of information dedicated exclusively to networking for the nursing profession.
A many nurses in America — and the rest of the world — can attest to, this occupation can be extremely taxing at times; taking care of a large number of patients on a daily basis, and performing routine tasks which require, in no small measure, both patience and professionalism is enough to put any person on the edge — and over, at times. Networks are vital in these situations, as these can provide the support necessary to trudge through the daily grind. The people in our network can lend us valuable assistance whenever the going gets tough, and help us to keep at it when the odds are seemingly against us.
However, the real benefit of networking lies in its potential growth it can provide to any nurse’s professional trajectory. Networking opens up a door to limitless possibilities where the nurse will find many opportunities to grow professionally and climb up the promotion ladder.
Matthew Howard, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CPN, explains in this article the importance of networking in an interesting anecdote: he said that he first decided to dabble in nurse networking back when he was barely beginning his career as a nurse in the Emergency Room. Taking initiative, Howard assisted to a gathering in his local ER Nurses Association, where he was quickly named the treasurer of the branch. After his appointment, Howard continued to participate in meetings, both local as well as national, and eventually had the honor of meeting the president of the Emergency Nurses Association. After many gatherings and events, Howard had gone on to become the liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
If he had dismissed the events and instead opted to quietly practice his trade, he would have still saved many lives as an ER nurse. However, he would never have had the opportunity of reaching new heights, the likes of which are only available to those who break out of their comfort zones and begin networking with peers and colleagues in this trade.
According to the director of quality and educational services for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, Angie Charlet, MHA, BSN, RN, more than providing solace and respite from the occupation’s many hazards, networking opens a windows for nurses to fully immerse themselves in their community and establish genuine, face-to-face relationships with like-minded individuals. Furthermore, everyone can partake of the group’s energy, and get a grasp of each member’s struggles, as well as their personal strengths and weaknesses. Through these relationships, nurses can obtain an idea of how the profession is evolving and changing, and keep ahead of the curve where innovation is regarded.
Moreover, frequently assisting to networking meetings can provide plenty of material for cover letters when applying for higher and better positions, most of which are frequently held in high regard by potential employers.
Getting Started in Networking
The best and most common way to begin fostering meaningful work relationships is by simply engaging with peers at work. Nurses learn all they need in order to lend their services in medical school, however, they also learn how to effectively wield and practice said knowledge by exchanging experiences with their peers. After the basics of the trade are mastered, new nurses are then strongly encouraged to join their local association in order to further advance in their trade. Not only will they acquire new relationships through meetings held in said associations, but they will also keep updated on the latest changes to both practices and legislation of the profession.
The American Nurses Association is also a great place to start looking for networking opportunities as the organization offers plenty of gathering in each of their local branches, where they frequently offer special positions for any interested nurses to occupy. Moreover, there are also opportunities for those that are interested in specialized care to find out the places where they are needed, so that they may hone their skills, and grow both as a person and as a professional in the process.
Once the basics of networking have been understood, a nurse can continue expanding towards this field by attending conferences, both local and national, about the subject of interest. Said meetings are fantastic places where professionals can meet peers that are further down the road, and who will have plenty of experience to share.
However, it pays to research beforehand the conferences and meetings that are closer to the nurse’s interests, as they will likely have something to offer in said field. The president for the National Nurses In Business Association, Michelle Podlesni, is currently planning the annual meeting of this association which is scheduled to happen this fall in Las Vegas.
Nurses who are interested in growing their career instead of investing their efforts exclusively in a single hospital are encouraged to invest their efforts in nurturing their networking opportunities. At the very least, they will find opportunities to unwind from the stress of daily life and have plenty of fun in the process.