1. Section Editor(s): Davis, Charlotte BSN, RN, CCRN

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It's an exciting time to be in the nursing profession-2016 will be filled with changes that can improve both our professional development and clinical practice. To optimize your opportunities in 2016, explore all of the available resources to refine your clinical and critical thinking skills, which are vital to your professional growth. Look within your healthcare facility; nursing organizations; local or national nursing conferences; and evidence-based experts, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA), that disseminate best practice.

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Consult with your management and educational team members to identify learning opportunities. Management team members may be aware of opportunities to enhance your leadership skills to prepare you for a future leader role within your organization. Many managers will allow nurses to shadow them to provide an overview of the roles and responsibilities that their job encompasses. Educational team members can offer updates on the latest evidence-based practice (EBP) guidelines that impact your specialty area. They may also be aware of upcoming pharmaceutical in-services or seminars that are being provided by another healthcare service department.


Nursing organizations offer you the opportunity to be actively involved in legislative changes that impact our profession and patient care. Often, these organizations provide continuing-education activities and because they focus on community health needs and nursing scope of practice, learning opportunities may be expansive. They can also give you the opportunity to learn in an interactive environment where you can ask questions and engage with the presenter of the information.


Nursing conferences present diverse learning opportunities and can revitalize you if you're experiencing stagnation. Presentations range from new EBP practice initiatives to research findings to hands-on learning. With most state and national nursing organizations offering seminars, workshops, and summits, there are plenty of chances to learn with your fellow nurses.


Research is constantly guiding our clinical practice as we evolve in our professional role. Organizations such as the ANA can provide a wealth of new and exciting learning opportunities, as well as a way to gain awareness of recent changes in both nursing and medicine. Many offer the opportunity to be part of a research study that will shape future nursing practice.


Consider incorporating your professional goals into your New Year's resolution. Your journey begins with taking a first step. This can be as simple as setting aside 30 minutes twice a week to study for a specialty exam or taking your first class toward an advanced degree. Encourage your colleagues to identify one short-term and one long-term professional goal at your next staff meeting. Continue to be supportive of your coworkers who are seeking a new clinical skill, specialty certification, or advanced degree. We have the ability to foster professional growth and confidence in our peers and novice nurses by exhibiting a positive attitude and being open to sharing our knowledge and clinical insight with others to promote the profession of nursing in 2016.


So open your mind and seek out all of the wonderful learning opportunities that 2016 has in store. Tap into these resources and begin your professional growth journey.