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What Nurses Should Look for in a Boss

What Nurses Should Look for in a Boss

What do you look for in a head nurse?

Rob Cameron | Scrubs Magazine

We all have dreams and goals for our personal life and career. Whether you are a brand new nurse straight out of school or a seasoned nurse looking toward your future, we all need a little bit of help and guidance. That is why a mentor is so important. Not only to help you as a nurse just managing like I have talked about in the past, but as a nurse looking at your career in the future.

I have a couple of examples of what I am talking about, I am sure you will see what you should be looking for in a manager, and what can hold you back in your career goals.

When I am welcoming new employees to my unit, I meet with them on the first day to discuss my expectations of them, and to learn about what their goals are. I make it clear that I know that they are not going to be working for me for ever, and that I want to help them grow as a nurse while they are on our unit so they can reach those goals. Whether that is moving to the ICU, the ED or L&D, I know they have goals, and if I know those goals, I can help them achieve them.

This is new for a lot of nurses who are used to their managers expecting them to stay on the unit forever. They are not used to a leader helping them and coaching them to meet and hopefully exceed those goals they have set for themselves.

Contrast that to my situation. My organization is going though a lot of changes in the department of nursing. There are directors and higher up the organizational chart that have left opening new opportunities for those managers that are looking go move up to these positions, like myself.

Last week I sent an email to my boss explaining that I am interested in moving up the ladder. I explained my goals and asked her if she could support me and mentor me in these new positions. I explained why I felt that I would be the perfect candidate for one of these positions and the positive changes I could make.

I received an email back that really just shot me down. She was completely unsupportive and did not provide any positive support or feedback. I am disheartened, and disillusioned with her and this organization that I have put some many years into. I am seriously considering leaving because of the lack of support given to me.

Which one would you like to have? Somebody that wants to know your dreams and helps you to achieve them, or somebody that doesn’t ask, and doesn’t seem to care or support you when you tell them?

Pretty easy choice for me.

More on ScrubsMag.com:

In Nurse Manager: Patience
In Nurse Manager: When Social Media Bites Back
In Career Advice: Interview Skills, YES, You Need Them, Too!



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  • Family_visit_2010_068_max50

    Alwaysanurse1

    over 4 years ago

    20 comments

    I have read the comments and truly empathize with my nurse colleagues out there. I too have experienced some "bad" nurse managers who seem to care only about upper management's agenda and the bottom line. I also have mistakenly thought that a nurse manager would care about her staff; only to discover that this is not so. You have to understand their point of view: they are only trying to save their own skins and keep their jobs. That's why a strong Nurse Union needs to be in place. It has been my saving grace to have found the California Nurse's Union, now part of the NNOC and National Nurses' Union (NNU) which is 155,000 members strong! We are the largest union made up of BEDSIDE nurses, NOT managers like so-called other "nurse unions." Our agenda is simple--we want safer staffing ratios, that is more RNs to patients on every unit in an acute care facility. There are bills pending in 12 states and one nationally to make this happen. So far, California has been the first and only state to have it enacted and has been able to prove through studies and documentation (what we nurses excel at -:) that having adequate staffing saves more lives and money. So, please take heart my fellow nurses and log on to NNOC or NNU and join us in this fight to win legislation that will make our hospitals safer for our patients and that will strengthen unity in our profession. It is about time that we stand together and not be splintered by upper management. We did not ask for this fight, but the way that excutives in charge of hospitals have run our work place has created this hostile atmosphere for nurses and patients. We are in a position to do something about it! Just do not lose heart, we are the caregivers and we know that we are right. From talking to the general public about this, we also have community support. I wish all of us nurses and patients to stand together to reform our "sick" healthcare system.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    lisaleah

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    It sounds as if you are a great nurse manager. It is a shame that your peers don't see it. I have noticed managers that really stand out are left out as if other poor managers, most, feel threatened. I once talked with a nurse manger that I felt so shocked that what I expected after nursing school was so different than reality. She flat out told me that what I was taught was, "a lie." Where I am working now managers are picked not by qualifications but rather their willingness to not question upper managements ideas. It is a hostile environment at best. I agree with several of the comments made, I would not encourage someone to go to nursing school. Their is no true support system. The board of nursing is a police unit and unions are supportive of management. I feel that the ANA is floating up in the clouds somewhere, and not dealing with the basic needs of nurses. There is to my knowledge no real supportive institution for nurses, and God forbid you try to establish a supportive group within your institution...it becomes a den of gossip and management finds out and there you go, on the black list of trouble makers. The only true solution is within and getting back to the basics of the nursing code of ethics. If it were followed ehat a difference it would make is nursing,

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    kellyj

    over 4 years ago

    84 comments

    managers have an agenda just like anyone else in order to survive a unit one must decipher the bottom line of your so called "nursing manager". once that is accomplished than you must decide if this is the hoop you are willing to jump through in order to obtain your goals and accomplish your agenda.I have had many nursemanagers and have really only had one or two that i recall "went to bat" for their nurses. Great Nurse managers are out there and many if not most of the "great" ones became great because of their staff not being afraid to take them to task and call them on their poor management skills. Great Nurse Manager= Great Nursing Staff!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 4 years ago

    It is a sad commmentary on what we are faced with in our Nursing Career. When I entered clinicals, it became obvious to me that I had entered the wrong profession, I graduated and has been practicing for a while now. I have yet to meet a manager who goes to bat for their nurses, who are there to suppor, mentor, and to help you grow in your profession. I cannot tell you how many manager's I have worked for who does not even know who I am. It is like the health care profession seek out and hires managers whose only focus is on the organization's bottom line and what's in it for me (WIIFI). I have not been discouraging anyone who wants to be in nursing, but I strongly caution them that it is a profession that does not care for its own. And that's why we are still struggling as a profession, scraping the bottom of the barrel and clinging to the bottom rung of the professional ladder. Take my advice, be a lawyer, or an engineer, or a garbage collecter. At least you will feel as if you belong.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    harleyone

    over 4 years ago

    10 comments

    And I thought it was only my manager. It has finally occured to me that, although she says recent process changes are "all about the pt", the truth is it is only about the bottom line. I have been a real Pollyanna for most of my career, thinking managers really cared, they really wanted the best for staff thus improving the pt experience. I am quite disallusioned. Thankfully I'm planning on retiring in a couple of years. It was only the last yr or so that I've decided I would actively discourage any youngster from going into Nursing. It is run by know nothing academics and bureacrats who can't do what we do.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    wbkiehl

    over 4 years ago

    196 comments

    I have not had a supportive manager, I don't think, throughout my entire time in nursing, be it as my time as an LPN or when I became an RN. Of all of them, the most supportive would have been the supervisors in home health, but even then sometimes I find myself wondering. When it came to acute care/hospital nursing, it was pretty bad. I had nurse managers, etc, totally derail my attempts to advance or lie about what I could expect going into a job, only to find things were quite different once I got in (and had stepped into a big pile). And I have talked with a few who basically have stable staffs and are shocked when they see somebody moving around. Well it isn't "Heaven" everywhere; and it's rather disheartening when somebody questions not only your professionalism, but your personal integrity, because you have made attempts to escape bad situations as opposed to staying in them for a long time so it looks like you have "longevity." I'm currently unemployed in nursing, and at this point, I'm not so certain I would want to return to it. Between school and between trying to "hang in there" on jobs, I've given nursing some of the best years of my life, and all it did was use me up.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    lralkhatib

    over 4 years ago

    2094 comments

    so true some managers care about thier position and how to stay in thier chair long time no mattar how.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mosenk

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

    Very true, some managers only care about the unit and budgets, not about you. By managers supporting staff to advance means that they have to take the time trainning new people, having less experienced staff, and a higher turnover rate. A manager who supports the employees as a person and not a number is the type of manager I would love to have. After all, for a manager, it's better to have employees leave because of advancement rather than to leave because of disappointment.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    nineteenseventyfive

    over 4 years ago

    20 comments

    so true

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