7 Goals for Nursing Students and 4 Steps for Setting Nursing Goals

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Goals for nursing students should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. SMART goals for nursing students include participating in extra learning opportunities, working with a mentor, maintaining a healthy school/life balance and identifying the right nursing specialty.

woman sitting at desk looking intently

Nursing school can be hectic! This is especially true if you’ve decided to enroll in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, such as the one at Northeastern University. Our ABSN program can allow you to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months, but staying on top of your work is essential to keep up with the accelerated pace. Setting nursing goals may help you accomplish this.

Let’s take a closer look at goals for nursing students, including how to set them and which particular goals might benefit you.

Why Are Nursing Goals Important?

Professional goals for nursing students are important for a few reasons. When you set long-term goals, you can better understand what you are working toward in your future. When you set short-term goals, you may be more likely to stay on track and focus on the tasks you need to accomplish in the near future.

Setting nursing goals can also help you maintain your drive and motivation. Nursing school can be challenging, particularly on an accelerated timeline. Reminding yourself of your goals periodically may help sustain your commitment to succeeding in the program.

Although professional goals for nursing students are essential, it’s equally important to realize your plans may change occasionally. For instance, let’s say you initially decided your goal is to become an oncology nurse, but you later completed a pediatrics rotation and fell in love with that specialty. It’s perfectly fine to switch your long-term nursing specialty goal to pediatrics.

closeup of nurse hands writing on clipboard at desk

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How to Develop Goals for Nursing Students

Before looking at the top seven goals for nursing students, let’s first examine a few steps you can use to establish your own goals.

1. Discover Your Why

You’ve reached that “a-ha” moment and decided to change careers and become a nurse. But that’s just step one. What sparked that decision to change? Understanding why you made this decision is the key to understanding what you’ll need from the right nursing program near Boston or in Charlotte.

You must find a nursing program that matches your interests and lifestyle. Are you willing to relocate? Are you looking for an online program or a traditional ground program? Take all these factors into consideration before starting your nursing school journey.

You don’t need to feel overwhelmed — many prospective students feel this way while searching for a nursing program that aligns with their needs. First, take a step back and consider the following questions:

  • What inspired you to become a nurse?
  • What do you want from your nursing career, not just your degree?
  • Will you be able to commit to a nursing program full-time? If so, what lifestyle adjustments will you need to make?

2. Your Personal Mission Statement

smiling northeastern nurse portrait

After acknowledging the questions above, it’s time to write down your purpose or personal mission statement for becoming a nurse. A personalized journal or notebook dedicated to your intentions can be beneficial, making your nursing goals more tangible.

Here is an example: I want to become a nurse to positively impact the lives of people around me and provide my family with a better standard of living.

Creating a personal mission statement for yourself is a great starting point and will encourage you to stay proactive throughout your nursing school journey.

3. Identify SMART Goals for Nursing Students

Once you have a personal mission statement, you can finally set actionable goals. This is the part where you can be specific. Consider making your goals practical and SMART. Here’s a look at how to set SMART goals for nursing students.

  • Specific: “I will apply to Northeastern University for my Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing because they have a flexible, high-quality program.”
  • Measurable: “I will request my transcripts on [x date], and I will schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor on [x date] to get the process started.”
  • Attainable: “Through hard work and dedication, I will finish this program in 16 months.”
  • Relevant: “This is the perfect time to change careers because the nursing industry is thriving, and Northeastern’s ABSN program has more seats available for qualified students.”
  • Time Bound: “Within a month of graduation, I will pass my NCLEX and begin applying to nursing jobs.”

Setting SMART goals can help you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time wisely, and increase your chances of becoming a successful nurse.

student nurses working in sim lab

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Stick with It and Track Your Progress

Remember, goal setting should be an ongoing, regular activity. Once you have started Northeastern University’s Accelerated BSN program, build in reminders to keep yourself on track and plan out times to review your goals.

If you lose sight of your goals, don’t hesitate to contact your admissions counselor. They are dedicated to your success and can help you maintain your focus on the education goals required to earn your nursing degree.

4. Hold Yourself Accountable

Now that you’ve determined your purpose for becoming a registered nurse, your personal mission statement, and the tangible goals that support your mission, it’s time to follow through by holding yourself accountable. After you’ve established your nursing goals, take the following steps:

  1. Make your goals visible. It’s crucial not to lose sight of where you’re headed. Post your mission statement and goals somewhere you’ll see them daily, like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator. The more you are reminded of why you’re working so hard, the easier it will be to stay on task.
  2. Turn your goals into habits. Your goals will not fit into your schedule on their own if you don’t prioritize them. It would be best if you planned, blocking out time. For example, at the beginning of each week, schedule your study time (and your relaxation time.) It will be easier to stick to a plan if it’s built into your routine.
  3. Have an accountability buddy. Northeastern University’s ABSN program gives you multiple opportunities to get to know the classmates in your cohort. Find someone reliable and genuinely committed to succeeding in the program, then work together to keep both of you on task.

Examples of Professional Goals for Nursing Students

Now that you have a better handle on setting professional goals for nursing students let’s look at some of the top goals you might use for yourself.

Northeastern nursing student working with sim manikin

1. Find Your Ideal Nursing Specialty

One example of a nursing goal you could set is determining which type of nurse you want to be. You could approach this by considering the patient population you’d like to work with (e.g., women’s health or gerontology) or by some aspect of health you’re passionate about (e.g., dialysis or oncology nursing).

How can you go about achieving this goal? Your nursing coursework will introduce you to many different aspects of nursing, which may help develop an initial idea of what your ideal nursing specialty might be. You’ll have opportunities to work in specific areas of nursing through clinical rotations. You’ll also talk to working RNs about their experiences. You can use all this information to guide your decision-making process.

2. Find a Mentor

A nursing mentor can help you in so many ways, such as by offering:

  • Career guidance
  • General support and advice
  • Insights into nursing specialties and career development
  • Opportunities to expand your professional network

There are a few ways to go about finding a mentor. For example, you might ask an instructor to mentor you in nursing school. You could also shadow a nurse in a specialty of interest. Some healthcare facilities offer mentor/mentee matching for their RNs. In addition, some professional networking sites offer nurse mentorship programs.

3. Improve Communication Skills and Bedside Manner

In addition to setting nursing goals geared toward your career development, you should set some goals to help you become a better, more effective nurse. Communication and interpersonal skills are crucial for this profession since nurses serve as patients’ first and most common point of contact. You may want to improve these skills to develop a better bedside manner and be a more effective patient educator.

Often, developing these skills requires lots of practice. You’ll have opportunities to practice these skills during clinical rotations. Don’t hesitate to ask your preceptor for feedback on these critical soft skills.

4. Maintain a Healthy School or Work/Life Balance

Another of the most important goals for nursing students is to have a healthy school/life balance. After graduation, you’ll focus on your work/life balance. This is tricky to achieve, but you might start by setting aside a few minutes each day for “me time” to meditate, read for pleasure or do yoga.

5. Be an Efficient and Organized Nursing Student

This is a smart goal, as it focuses on the habits you’ll need to succeed in nursing school and beyond. One way to be a more efficient student is to ensure you study for classes in a distraction-free study space. To be more organized, keep track of all your assignments in a day planner and complete assignments well before they’re due.

nursing student working on whiteboard

6. Participate in More Learning Opportunities

Nursing is a profession that requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Although you’ll have a lot of course material to work through as a nursing student, it’s still a good idea to seek out more learning opportunities. Look for job shadowing opportunities, educational workshops and seminars you can attend as a nursing student. You can also participate in study groups with your cohort.

7. Pursue Nursing Certifications

Nursing certifications can enable you to demonstrate proficiency in a nursing specialty. Research certification options for the nursing specialties that interest you and consider setting a goal of obtaining one or more certifications by a certain point in your career.

Nursing students may get some certifications even before obtaining a nursing license. For example, you can apply for a Basic Life Support (BLS) certification and become certified in CPR at the Red Cross.

Why Choose Northeastern University?

If you decide becoming a nurse is your top goal, you can achieve your dreams at Northeastern University. Our Accelerated BSN program can enable you to earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Plus, you’ll be supported by our admissions counselors throughout the application process and dedicated faculty throughout the program.

With three start dates per year and ABSN program sites in Charlotte, North Carolina and near Boston, Massachusetts, it’s possible to fit a nursing degree into your career ambitions. Contact an admissions counselor today to get started.

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