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Want to Grow Your Nursing Career? Join a Workplace Committee

By Keith Carlson via Multibriefs

Busy, hard-working nurses may not readily acknowledge that membership in a workplace committee is a strategy for nursing career growth and professional development. However, committee work can lead to many positive outcomes for nurses seeking a novel way to dig deeper into their career trajectory and involvement in healthcare leadership.

Committees and learning

Belonging to a workplace committee can be an opportunity for learning new skills, deepening one's understanding of the inner workings of healthcare organizations, and multidisciplinary or intradisciplinary collaboration. Committees can exist at the heart of change; nurses engaged in conversations and negotiations regarding new initiatives may be privy to information of great interest and import.

Committees focused on the development of protocols, policies and procedures must deeply understand how such processes are envisioned, initiated and evaluated. Nurse members learning these skills may eventually choose to leverage such experiences by advancing to leadership or management positions.

Developing new wound care protocols, performing quality assurance or delving into facility finances can give nurses a new understanding of how healthcare organizations function.

Resume building

Active participation in workplace committees demonstrates to employers and hiring managers that a nurse is an interested, committed team player. Employers know committee membership calls for a sacrifice of time and energy, and it's unlikely that such participation will go unnoticed.

Committee memberships are a nice addition to any resume, and if the nurse in question rose to the level of chairperson or facilitator, even better. If a committee or board produces a document or study with a nurse's name included as an author, researcher or collaborator, this is another proverbial feather in the professional cap.

When faced with job applicants with veritably identical resumes, added experience such as committee membership and demonstrated personal initiative are certainly seen as strengths.

Committees and networking

When a nurse works as a committee member, she or he has the chance to interact with colleagues in new ways. Working with a physician colleague on the development of a protocol may promote increased respect, collegiality and cooperation in the clinical space.

Getting to know various colleagues through committee membership can be an enjoyable avenue for connection with fellow staff members, building rapport across disciplines, units and departments. These relationships can lead to all manner of positive outcomes.

Deepening professional acumen

Taking part in committees, learning new skills, accumulating knowledge, making connections and building your resume are sufficient reasons to get involved.

As we learn and grow as nurses, our professional acumen can grow along with us. Increased clinical knowledge is always a plus, but further understanding of organizational finance, structure and hierarchy, and other aspects of the healthcare space benefit the nurse by dint of a deeper grasp of the challenges faced by 21st-century healthcare institutions.

While barriers may exist to committee involvement, the benefits can far outweigh the challenges for nurses seeking new opportunities for growth and professional development.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, has been a nurse since 1996. He is the blogger behind the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and a widely read freelance nurse writer. Keith is also the co-host of RNFM Radio, a popular Internet radio station devoted to the nursing profession. Under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, Keith's passion is helping nurses and healthcare professionals create ultimate satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.

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