1. Oermann, Marilyn H. PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

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Make 2020 the year you focus on your career development and building some time in your workload for this. Here are 5 strategies to consider, and all of these are easy to implement no matter where you are teaching.


Be strategic about your career development. Think about what you want to do in 3 and 5 years and develop a clear plan of how to accomplish those goals. Your plan should be written and should include specific actions with timelines to meet your goals. We are often so busy with our teaching, we never stop to think about our own careers.


Find a mentor and a sponsor. Many articles have been published on the need for mentors for both novice and midcareer nursing faculty. Mentors guide, coach, and provide feedback to mentees, helping them adapt to teaching and promoting their growth as educators. Your mentor does not have to be in your school of nursing. Build a mentoring network instead of relying on 1 mentor in your school.1 Having a network can provide the guidance and feedback you need as your career progresses.


For career development, faculty also could use a sponsor. Sponsorship is not the same as mentoring: mentoring is longitudinal, but sponsorship is episodic and focuses on specific opportunities that would benefit the career of the mentee.2 Effective sponsors have already established their careers and have influence in the organization: because of this, they can advocate for mentees' career advancement.2,3 In schools of nursing, we need mentoring when we begin our role as a faculty member and in other educator roles, but sponsorship is helpful as one's career progresses. A sponsor can suggest career building opportunities, such as recommending you to serve on a committee, speak at a conference, or collaborate on a project that will benefit your career. Think about your career plans, find the resources you need, and develop a relationship with an established nurse educator in your school of nursing or within the nursing education community who can be your sponsor.


Let your job "work for you." If you read this journal, you will find many innovative strategies and other ideas for your teaching. Try out some of these or develop new teaching approaches. You might be satisfied with the teaching strategies you are using currently and have good teaching evaluations, but trying out new approaches will keep your teaching fresh. The other benefit is you can turn these into scholarship: for your career, you need some type of scholarship. New courses, clinical practice experiences, simulations, teaching approaches, and assessment methods that you develop for your students and in your nursing program are potential scholarly projects you can write about. Look at the Teaching Tips in each issue of Nurse Educator: these are usually teaching strategies the authors developed for their students that they turned into scholarship.


Look over your workload to reserve time for your scholarship or for completing activities that will facilitate your career. Can you group your meetings on 1 or 2 days? Block time for grading assignments, updating classes, and doing other teaching related activities so you can have some dedicated time for your scholarship. We can all find a few hours each week for scholarship, but you have to protect this time and not do other activities during it.


Take care of yourself. At work, take breaks during the day and talk with colleagues. Communicating with a mentor or peers is a strategy to prevent burnout; they can offer support and tips for managing the demands of teaching. Take a lunch break-do not eat at your desk while you check email or text messages or comment on students' online discussions. As nurse educators, we can always find work to do at home, but your personal time is as important as your professional time. Make 2020 the year you focus on your career and on you.




1. McBride AB, Campbell J, Deming K. Does having been mentored affect subsequent mentoring? J Prof Nurs. 2019;35(3):156-161. [Context Link]


2. Ayyala MS, Skarupski K, Bodurtha JN, et al. Mentorship is not enough: exploring sponsorship and its role in career advancement in academic medicine. Acad Med. 2019;94(1):94-100. [Context Link]


3. Ibarra H. A lack of sponsorship is keeping women from advancing into leadership. Harv Bus Rev. 2019;(Aug 19):2-7. Available at Accessed September 22, 2019. [Context Link]