10 Ways to get that nursing promotion

Stories - Carla Money BagDoes a promotion at work seem nice to you? Do you think you’d be a good nurse manager? There are ways you can speed up the process immensely – just by changing habits and adopting new ones. Here are ten ways to help you achieve that promotion.

1. Get Comfortable with Technology. Learn your documentation system inside and out. Place yourself in positions to learn more – doing discharges, admissions, and everything in between. Not only will this make you more comfortable with your facility’s systems, it will make you seem much more competent!

2. Don’t be Afraid to Ask! Just ask your director during your next performance review! You shouldn’t wait for someone to nominate you out of the blue. Make your intentions known. Often you don’t even have to wait for your immediate superior to retire. There are plenty of ways to get promoted: being put in charge of another unit, being an assistant manager, or managing part-time are all ways to get promoted.

3. Go to School. If you still have just your associate’s degree, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. When you’re trying to get a promotion, make sure you have the matching credentials. Better yet, make it known to your superiors that you want a promotion – and that you’re going to school to make yourself a better candidate.

4. Get Involved. Take on small roles: organize fun events for staff, fundraise for something nice to buy for the unit, become a ‘superuser,’ and always keep learning. You can learn simply by asking questions. Ask doctors questions… why they prescribe this over that, etc.. Ask managers why they made decisions that puzzle you, in a non-critical way. There may be a rationale you did not even consider.

5. Take Charge – Literally. If you’re never a charge nurse on your own unit how can you reasonably say you can take charge over larger amounts of staff and patients? Just ask to be charge sometime. Most of the time, the ‘usual’ charge nurses will welcome a nice break. And of course, you can always consult them with questions and learn along the way. Win-win!

6. Take Care of Details. Arrive on time for work… even a little early to be safe. Check your work email and mailbox regularly, and respond quickly. Do your e-learnings and compliance training on time. Imagine how it looks to your manager if they have to constantly remind you to complete your learning tasks – Not good.

7. Be Vocal. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions and take part in conversations on the unit, discussing problems, issues, ideas, etc.. Even when no managers are around, just be vocal. Being a manager means being a great communicator – it’s going to be hard to get promoted if you’re always sitting in the back being quiet.

8. Float More. Get around to other units! Volunteer to float when you get a chance. It’s hard to do it, especially if you’re a regular on your own unit. There are a few benefits though: you learn about the workings of other units, and you meet and build relationships with more people. Both will help you become a better manager.

9. Stay Put. Don’t job-hop recklessly. Only do it if there is a negative work environment or you really see no room for advancement at your current job. Chasing dollar signs when you’re already working at a decent place will put you back at square one. The average age of Nurse Managers is 45. Managers need to be seen as committed and experienced, and that comes with time.

10. Be Positive! Work should be made to be as positive as possible. That’s only possible with good leadership. If your facility is a healthy and progressive place, they will definitely want to promote positive, pleasant people. It’s very easy to seem happy. Smile more, avoid complaining, and point out the bright side of things when negative conversations arise. You’ll seem like the happiest person in the room!

How many of you are interested in taking leadership roles in your facilities?

Nurse Managers, what do you think of the steps you took to get where you are?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Kevin is an RN and hopes to get promoted – eventually. Right now he’s content to write articles for, and own Kevin’s Review, a website that lets users rate NCLEX Reviews.

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