Who doesn’t think about getting that promotion? We all want to be our own boss someday, but before we can rule the hive, we have to tough it out as a lowly worker bee. These days, moving up is less like climbing a ladder and more like picking your way through a maze. There are many ways you can move your nursing career forward, but any one of them could be a dead end. Avoid game over with these eight ways to get ahead at the hospital.
Just try not to step on too many toes.
What do high-powered executives often have in common? A higher degree or certification. Look into PhD and/or nursing certification programs in your field that give you a leg up. Not only will you be educating yourself, you’ll be learning from seasoned professionals and interacting with others in your field. If going back to nursing school isn’t your thing, consider taking certificate classes and attending conferences that increase your awareness of health care industry trends. Getting yourself seriously educated sends a strong message that you are invested in what you do and that you have a genuine interest in staying on top of your game. You don’t have to stick to industry-specific classes either! Consider learning a new language or taking up a musical instrument. By diversifying yourself, you are staying ahead of the competition and widening your range of skills.
Find a Mentor
What better way to move up at the hospital than to turn to an experienced nurse who’s been through it all? Mentors have not only been in your shoes, they also know a little something about the business you’re in. A mentor is like an anchor, grounding you when you are lost. They offer career advice, listen to patient complaints, or just lend an ear in a moment of crisis. The right mentor can drastically change your career path for the better.
How can you get promoted if nobody knows who you are? It’s not just about showing up every day and doing your rounds. Smart nurses go beyond their job descriptions. Speak up and get noticed! Make sure you contribute valuable ideas and are confident in your work. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
Ask for More Work
Taking on more responsibility shows that you are taking an active interest in the hospital and outgrowing your current position. It also makes your boss look good and eases the workload off of somebody else. Making others happy brings you one step closer to making yourself happy! One thing to note: When you ask for more work, you’d better be able to handle it. There’s nothing worse than not completing your charts on time or backing out because you didn’t realize how difficult a patient would be.
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Network, Network, Network
Unfortunately, the reality of life is that it’s not what you know, but who you know. That means you should make networking a priority. It should be a natural habit, part of your daily routine. Make small talk with different nurses and check in with past colleagues and other professional connections via email once in awhile. Attend company happy hours and special events to get to know the higher ups in a less formal environment. Conferences are a great place to network outside of your hospital and connect with experts in your field. Networking doesn’t have to be in person — get a LinkedIn or NursingLink profile and keep track of all your professional contacts. You’d be surprised at how many new connections you can make! Just be careful about coming off as a brown-noser. Nobody likes a suck up.
Find a few reputable health care trade magazines that professionals in your line of business read. Once you’ve got a feel for their editorial tone and content, try pitching out a few article ideas. Getting published in a trade magazine sets you apart from the crowd and makes you into a reliable nursing expert in your field. Who knows, maybe your boss will start taking advice from you!
Start a Blog
If print publication isn’t your thing, go online! Pick a blogging platform like Blogspot or Wordpress and have at it. Find a theme or niche subject that you have some experience in and begin writing about it. If you do it right and do it well, you’ll find your audience growing. But be careful — beware of badmouthing fellow nurses, patients, or your hospital. A professional blog shouldn’t turn into your personal rant.
The bottom line? You have to take control of your nursing career. No amount of networking, business connections, or mentors is going to get you anywhere if you take the back seat. By showing initiative, taking responsibility, and being innovative, you are guaranteed to be noticed by the Powers That Be. Take the first step. Don’t be afraid! If you wait to get acknowledged, hope you’ll be praised, and wonder if you’re up to the task then you’re wasting your time. A little confidence goes a long way.