Short term and long term words written on paper and revealed through tears
Travel June 16, 2017

By Brook Jillings

The Importance of Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Nursing Career Goals

The decision to set long- and short-term nursing career goals can have an incredible impact on your professional life. Goal setting is one of the best tools to monitor your career progress. However, focusing solely on short- or long-term nursing career goals is a common mistake. 

Understanding the unique benefits of each can encourage you to direct attention to both, maximizing your opportunity for success.mLearn The Benefits Of Long-Term Nursing Career Goals And Short-Term Nursing Career Goals Below.

Benefits of Long-Term Nursing Career Goals

When mapping out your ideal professional path, long-term nursing career goals give you a broad view of where you want your development to take you. If your career is a journey, long-term nursing career goals are the destination. 

When laying out your long-term goals, consider the advice of Shanna Shafer, BSN, the managing editor and strategic communications director of, who says, "When it comes to long-term goal-setting, make sure that you set goals that are attainable, measurable and within your realm of interest."

For those struggling to identify long-term nursing career goals, it's important to remember that they are meant to be flexible. Sometimes, just the act of setting goals can lead to an unexpected career path.

"Be open to the idea that your vision may change," suggests Melissa O. Tuomi, PhD, RN, CPHQ, Director of Professional Practice, Nursing Research and Quality at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, and Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Worcester.

"I achieved my goal of a doctorate because other people saw something in me that I was too inexperienced to see and encouraged me to take a risk."

Benefits of Short-Term Nursing Career Goals

If long-term goals are the destination, short-term nursing career goals are the fueling pit stops along the way. These smaller goals are an excellent way to stay on course and measure your overall progress and achievement. 

"Have immediate short-term goals," says Tuomi. "Feeling successful helps build resiliency in a career that can be emotionally and physically challenging."

These small victories help to build and maintain motivation to keep you reaching for long-term nursing career goals. 

"When it comes to short-term nursing career goals," says Shafer, "focus on how you can improve your career and your skills right where you are. There are several ways to boost your nursing career without making an actual career change." 

Below are a few examples of short-term nursing career goals Shafter suggests:

  • Mastering a procedure, process, or new skill in your unit or healthcare facility
  • Volunteering to be a mentor on your unit
  • Joining a committee to expand your knowledge and networking
  • Getting certified in your specialty area
  • Taking a continuing education class that interests you

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