Why Nurses Should Set SMART Goals for 2024

nurse smart goal 2024

Nursing is a marathon, not a sprint. Succeeding in healthcare or in life means committing numerous daily efforts, in service of a larger goal. Instead of living passively and filling out the checklists given to you, healthcare providers (HCPs) want to be more proactive with pursuing their goals.

By setting SMART goals for yourself, you can better position yourself for success in 2024 and beyond.

Defining SMART

Aspiring nurses need to know what you need and how you plan to get there. By setting SMART goals, you answer all these questions and provide your career with much-needed structure.

For reference a SMART Goal is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.

You want to set specific goals that will provide your efforts with focus. If you want to become a registered nurse, “passing the certification test” or “submitting your first job applications” would be your specific goals.

When your goals are measurable, you can quantify whether or not you have succeeded them. If you tell yourself that “I will submit three job applications,” then you will only succeed if you submit three or more.

If your goals are not attainable, you will set yourself up for failure. Landing your first nursing job within three days is technically possible, but highly unlikely. When you know you can finish something, you are more motivated to take action.

Be sure your goals are realistic, when you consider your current situation and capabilities. It is OK to aspire for bigger things down the road, but those benchmarks will take a lot of time.

Finally, giving your goal a specific time frame makes you conscious of your progress. Some self-imposed pressure helps in getting things done, and a reasonable time limit provides just that.

How can I set SMART Goals?

To give you an idea of how you can bring your career to the next level, we have listed a number of examples of SMART goals that any HCP would be proud of. At first, you want to lay out a basic goal that can be somewhat broad. From there, you lay out the precise steps, timeframe, and conditions in which you will measure your progress.

Goal: I will pass the NCLEX-RN in my first try.

How to make it SMART: I will focus on studying for the certification exam over the next two months. Every day, I want to study at least two hours a day. Each study session, I want to cover at least two chapters of my review material. Tomorrow, I am going to ask my mentors for advice for preparing for the exam, and what material I should focus my efforts on. If I pass the test, then I would have succeeded with flying colors.

Goal: I want to become a Certified Nurse Anesthetist

How to make it SMART: Over the next four to five years, my goal is to become a Certified Nursing Anesthetist. I want to spend one to two years accruing the requisite bedslide clinical experiences, upon graduation from my BSN program. Once that is achieved, I will apply for the three year Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Once I pass, the next three years will be spent honing my nursing skills while I continue to maintain my regular nursing job. Upon graduation, I will set aside two months to prepare for the National Certification Exam for Nurse Anesthetists.

Taking the next step

Healthcare professionals can gain a lot from creating these kinds of forward thinking goals. It gives their efforts a sense of focus, forward momentum and prior planning. This allows them to guide their career trajectory for both the long term and short term. Professional development and moving up the ladder is much easier when you know where you are going, and how you can get there.

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