Three years ago, I completed the Nurse Residency Program at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, and I’ve been blessed since then to achieve some of my career goals by becoming a nurse manager. Here’s how I did it and how you can too.
1. I Soaked Up as Much as I Could During the Residency Program
From the time I was in the Nurse Residency Program, I’ve always kept my eyes and ears open. I listened to what other nurses said, I watched what they did, and I asked lots of questions. I took in everything I could during that time frame and then applied it as soon as I could when I got to the floor with my preceptor.
Nurse Residency Programs provide an excellent opportunity to learn about how and why things are done in a particular way at a specific hospital. I strongly recommend using them to jump start your career!
2. I Built Good Relationships & Asked for Feedback
Building good relationships with your leaders and coworkers is key to becoming a successful nurse. To do this, I’ve always been intentional about “picking the brains” of my leaders, like John Lazarus, and asking them for feedback on my performance. How am I doing? What could I do better?
I realize that some people feel uncomfortable asking these sorts of questions because they’re afraid of what the answer may be, and it’s true that you have to be prepared to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think the key is to prepare yourself internally to receive anything that is said not as a judgement, but as a learning opportunity. If you build positive relationships with your leaders, this becomes easier because you’ll know they want to help you achieve your goals, and that whatever they say is intended for your benefit.
3. I Paid My Dues
About a year after I started nursing, a position opened for a night shift clinical leader. It wasn’t my dream job, since I didn’t necessarily want to work nights, but I decided to apply anyways to see what the interview process was like for growing within the hospital. To my surprise, I was offered the position!
Some people would overlook an opportunity like this because it doesn’t align perfectly with their expectations. However, I believe that to reach your long-term goals, you have to be willing to “pay your dues” along the way. In this case, paying my dues meant being flexible and working night shift until it eventually led to a day-time management position.
4. I Asked for Support from My Family
No one achieves success alone. In order for me to take on the night shift clinical leader position, my husband and I had to make some changes to our schedule and our routine. Fortunately, he knew how important it was to me to grow in my career and offered his full support.
Sometimes though we take it for granted that our families understand why we want to do something. If you don’t feel like your family has your back, I recommend having a heart-to-heart. Let them know what a particular opportunity means to you and ask them to support you in specific ways.
5. I Shared My Goals with My Leaders
As part of the positive relationships I built with my leaders, I was transparent about my long-term goals. They knew that I wanted to learn and grow so that eventually I could become a manager. As a result, they mentored me and helped me become an assistant nurse manager, and then a manager for a med-surg unit.
While I don’t recommend telling your director that your goal is to replace them, sharing that you’d like to grow as a leader is almost always welcome. When your supervisors know the kind of opportunities you’re looking for, they can better mentor you and set you up for success.
6. I Took Responsibility for My Mistakes
When people think about becoming a manager, they usually think about all the benefits, like earning a larger paycheck or being able to influence greater change in the organization. But growing into a leadership role also means taking on greater responsibility for both your own and your team’s mistakes.
I’m a fall-on-the-sword kind of girl, so when I make a mistake, I own up to it. If you want to grow in your career, start by taking full responsibility for your actions now and don’t be afraid of being held accountable.
Nursing Provides Many Opportunities for Growth & Advancement
There are tons of opportunities to grow in the nursing field, whether you want to move from one specialty area to another or advance to a manager, director, or even hospital administrator. To get started in your nursing career, check out the Nurse Residency Program at Adventist Health System. You won’t regret it!