Most nurses start out as staff and are involved in the direct care of patients. They may start getting experience or even go back to school to get a specialization. But, at some point, a certain percentage of them will want to take on new responsibilities as an administrator.
Maybe they can’t physically handle walking the wards anymore, or perhaps they want to mentor the next generation of nurses or work at a higher level while influencing community health and patient care. This is only possible when in a nurse leadership role. Still, some might not be 100% that now is the right time to make the transition. Let’s take a look at a few signs that you might be ready for a nurse leadership role.
You’re Already Being Asked to Do the Work
If other nurses come to you for advice or mentoring on a regular basis, they already see you as a leader. Or, if you’re already advising doctors regarding patient care or helping with paperwork, it could be time to earn an advanced degree and get promoted to nursing management. Then you’ll be paid what you deserve for the work you’re already doing.
You’ve Been a Team Leader for a Long Time
Nursing administrators or floor supervisors often headed a team of nurses for years. If you’ve been coordinating and supervising the team and doing it well for a long time, it may be time for you to move up.
Unfortunately, you may need an advanced degree to be considered qualified for a higher leadership position. The good news is that you can now find 100% online DNP nursing leadership courses that will allow you to get your degree while continuing to work in your current position. You’ll have the certification that management recognizes, allowing you to apply for a higher role in the organization.
If you were thinking of getting something like an MBA, however, we strongly recommend that you consider this qualification instead. A nursing leadership certification is far more valuable than an MBA because it focuses on decision making in the healthcare setting. This will make you a prime medical as these credentials are still very rare, and you’ll have the right set of tools to put your skills to use.
Everyone Else Is Telling You That You’re Ready
Note that not everyone is cut out for leadership. It requires more than experience and maturity, though those are key requirements. Unfortunately, these long years can leave us doubting ourselves even if we may be ready for a promotion.
Sometimes others see things in us we won’t admit to ourselves. One sign is comments from peers saying they wish you were in charge, or managers suggesting you apply for an open position. If people are constantly asking you to advocate for them or saying outright that you’d make a great leader, odds are that you would. Know that you don’t have to be perfect to be a nurse leader – just good.
You’re a Change Agent
If you’re constantly proposing ideas to improve the quality of care or make the organization more efficient, you’re already a change agent. If you’re already navigating the complex bureaucracy while advocating for patients or team members, you’re well on your way to being a nursing executive.
The only thing left is getting the necessary training in administration so you can implement these changes on a broader scale. Know how to make the right decision and stay within the rules, so you don’t get into trouble yourself.
You’re Ready for Something More
Some nurses might just feel like they’re stagnating and are ready for something bigger. Others might want to pace themselves for a career outside of direct care.
For instance, having extensive experience as a nurse leader could be a great way to move to office or to sit on a board. You might be asked to work on public health initiatives, for instance, or you could become an activist. Others decide to move on to other fields like philanthropy and head, work for, or start their own nonprofit organizations. The possibilities are endless when you have experience both on the floor and on the executive part. You will become much more versatile, and you can use your knowledge in all sorts of settings.
You Have all the Skills Needed
At the end of the day, you need to have the basic set of skills needed to be a good nurse leader. One of the greatest traits of any leader is being able to accept responsibility for your mistakes. There is nothing worse than someone who shifts the blame to someone else, publicly on top of that, when they were the person responsible. You also have to learn how to give praise, constructive criticism, and never take credit for someone else’s or your team’s work.
A good nurse leader has to be able to quickly identify someone’s strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities. They also have to be able to spot toxic characters and put out fires from time to time. This is all emotional intelligence, which will be key when leading a team of nurses.
You might have to work as a counselor when you notice someone might be stressed or losing their passion for work. You might notice someone new who may have lost that twinkle in their eye. It will be your job to be available to them and let them know that you’re always there to help. You should also be able to give them some suggestions on what they could do.
Nurse leaders also have a responsibility towards upper management and the organization as a whole. So, they have to be able to foster progress and monitor performance through regular assessment tests. Good leaders also lead by example, and always use best practices.
Nurse leaders play an important role on the floor and for their teams. They can also change the way entire organizations work, and have much more of an impact that they often imagine. If you feel that is for you, we suggest you start speaking with someone who can help guide you towards the right career path.