Nursing Notes

November 2, 2009

Advice for Nurses on How To Pursue Leadership Positions

Filed under: Nursing — Shirley @ 5:20 pm
Tags: , ,

As an older nurse who has been doing this for many years, I thought I would include this article, which is very informative, for the nurses out there who have yet to try management positions at their current workplace. 

I have been in several mid-management positions during my long tenure as an RN, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed those positions.  I would encourage any experienced RN to consider such a position in the future of their career.

Currently, I am working as a staff RN on the floor and love being reconnected to my patients.  When you move up into management, you develop your relationships with your co-workers by helping to develop their inherent skills and showing them how to succeed in the environment.  Both focuses are exciting and fulfilling, however, I am really happy to be back to floor nursing at this time in my life. 

Please read the article below and consider the advice from these fine nurses.  If management is something you would like to try, you cannot go wrong following the advice of nurses such as these.

CNOs Advise Nurses How To Pursue Leadership Positions

New England chief nursing officers shed insight on how staff nurses can advance to a management or administrative position. From keeping a positive attitude to volunteering for multidisciplinary committees, nurses can nurture their own careers by taking steps in the right direction.

Rene Fischer, RN, MSN, CNAA-BC, senior VP, patient care services/CNO, Kent Hospital, Warwick, R.I.

Staff nurses should declare their intention to move into a management or administrative position. Communicating that desire allows the organization to see the individual in a different light and consider him or her for the next step up. They also should seek advice from organization leaders and their direct supervisors about how they might go about that career path. Other ideas are to volunteer for multidisciplinary projects that give them opportunities to step outside of the staff nurse role, such as shared governance councils, or to shadow a leader. Those types of experiences will help them determine if leadership is something they want. Nurses should be aware that attitude is more important than skills. I often have passed over a more experienced candidate to hire someone with a positive attitude and a strong desire for growth and learning.

Janet Madigan, RN, MS, NEA-BC, CNO/VP of nursing, New England Sinai Hospital, Stoughton, Mass.

To pursue a management or administrative career path, nurses should find a mentor or someone in a leadership position who they respect and ask them for guidance. It also helps to continue formal education in management, move up clinical ladders, and volunteer for committee work at the hospital. Nurses who are chosen as leaders must have the desire to lead people. This unique type of nurse must be driven, able to deal with groups of people, and have a vision of how they would like to see things done. Before a nurse can become a leader, he or she must first become a clinical expert and show results through others as a team.

Joanne M. Fucile, RN, MSN, CCRN, VP, patient care services/CNO for Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Massachusetts

My advice for staff nurses wishing to pursue a management career path is to become involved in clinical committee work at their facilities to increase their experience in interdisciplinary teamwork, continuous improvement practices, and critical thinking skills — all essential for a successful career. I also encourage my staff to continue to pursue an advanced degree and embrace a philosophy of continuous learning to meet the challenges of the healthcare system. Qualities that I look for in my nurses are clinical expertise, a patient-family focus, effective communication and critical-thinking skills, an inquisitive personality, and the ability to challenge the status quo.

Heather Cygan is a regional editor. To comment, e-mail

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