Become A Nurse Manager in 2 years After Graduating: 3 Tips To Becoming A Nurse Leader

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To start this off, I want to go over my nursing story for you so that you to get a visual of my timeline on how this was achievable.

I graduated nursing school on March 2016, got a job at medical-surgical unit, and started building on my bedside experience. Roughly over two months over my preceptorship, various people (my director, preceptors, and educators) at that time believed that I was doing so well that I was able to end my preceptorship 3 weeks earlier than the actual start date of being on my own. Once I got off orientation, I started off working nights like any new grad and made it a goal for myself to build my nursing foundation. I was quite flexible with my schedule so I decided to start flip-flopping between night and day shifts. I started precepting after 1 year from graduating and was charge majority of the time during night shifts. I officially transitioned to day shift into the new year (2017) and continued precepting oncoming RNs.

A position opened for a Unit Supervisor and I claimed the position on August 2017. The rest of my nursing days consisted of primarily being charge for the unit, in which allowed me to gain skills in different areas: leadership, patient and staff advocacy, relationship building, critical thinking, time management, and so much more. It was truly a blessing to have had that opportunity to build connections with different staff members (admin supervisors, physicians, float pool nurses, clinical directors, educators, etc), which gave me the opportunity to learn so many things.

Along with other team members, I participated in numerous efforts to improve the unit. I even joined the hospital’s Falls Committee and organized any unit-based efforts from there on out.

On January 2018, I joined the Nursing Practice Congress as the delegate for my unit and continued to build relationships with other nursing leaders from other units. A couple of months later, I had quite a drive for nursing management and made it a goal for myself to be a clinical director of a unit one day. I saw an opening for a nurse manager position, then decided to take the chance and apply.

As of October 2018.. I can’t believe it… but I am now a nurse manager of a unit! It only took me 2 years to get out of bedside to become a nurse leader!

Literally. . . No one expected that a 5 foot short Filipino woman would end up being a nurse manager at 26 years old. It’s assumed that you have to be much older to gain seniority, but I beg to differ. I believe that anyone can be a nurse manager regardless of their age. To tell you the truth, it all starts with you and only you can make it happen. You can be a nurse leader only if you have the drive to go for it. Just work extra hard and stay confident.

To be transparent, not everyone finds the administration side of nursing interesting. It definitely isn’t everyone’s calling and it’s totally different from bedside nursing. Here are some of the things that you do as a nurse manager/leader:

  • Management: Manage nurses, clinical technicians/CNAS, secretaries, schedules, and staffing

  • Service recovery: Manage complaints (staff, patients, etc)

  • Patient experience: Improving HCAHPS, plan and implement necessary changes

  • Employee satisfaction

  • Employee engagement

  • Knowing policies

  • Unit environment

  • Auditing

  • Educating

  • Budget Analysis

  • Setting education opportunities

So how did I end up being a nurse manager? Here are 3 tips to get you to the leadership path:

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1. Be Involved

I literally put myself out there whenever the opportunity presented itself. If there was an open shift, I picked up. If they needed someone to make a presentation, I volunteered. If they needed staff input, I was the first one to speak. If they needed a leader to lead a committee, I was there.

2. Speak up

Don’t be scared to escalate things to physicians and your leaders especially when it is necessary to keep your patients safe. Advocacy is a part of what we do and without it, patient outcomes would be in jeopardy. The ability to speak up shows your great character and confidence.

There is a big difference between speaking up from complaining and it is important to differentiate between the two. Whenever escalating an issue, it’s always to produce a positive outcome. It is important to speak with viable data rather than to speak about an issue with no relevance and produce no outcome. There is nothing wrong with complaining… it is important on how you complain and what information you give to make your complaint viable.

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3. Build Relationships

It is important to build your relationships throughout your career. I cannot stress enough the importance of teamwork. Having a great rapport with the people you work with on a daily basis will enable several advantages. One, you can learn from them and two, they will help you when you need them. As you continue to shine in your endeavors as an aspiring leader and you attempt to move forward with your goals, you will have people to support you.

Hope you guys find this article useful! Comment below on how you all became a nurse leader! I would love to hear everyone’s story!