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A confident male nurse is wearing blue scrubs and standing in an atrium area of a hospital. He is smiling and looking straight ahead.

6 Tips to Advance in Your Current Role

3 min read

Clip on your badge, slide in your bandage scissors and penlight. It’s another day on the unit. You love your job, you’re satisfied with the bedside role, and you can see yourself staying here for the next decade.

But the voices you hear are saying that you shouldn’t be satisfied, you shouldn’t be happy to stay here for years. They send messages like: Go back to school. Advance your degree. Get a certification. BSN, MSN, DNP, CCRN, and on and on; the pressure to keep improving and learning doesn’t stop. These messages aren’t wrong or bad. They just don’t hit where you’re standing right now.

How to Advance Without Leaving the Bedside

What the dedicated and happy bedside nurse needs is a way to advance without getting away from the bedside or changing positions. Here are some simple tips to help you do just that:

1. Identify areas of need for improved skills and/or knowledge.

This could mean brushing up on ACLS or learning how to interpret a cardiac monitor. Don’t forget soft skills like communication and negotiation, or personal development such as improving your hydration and nutrition. You need to know where the gaps are before you can begin to fill them.

2. Check out formal and informal leadership positions within your unit.

Would you enjoy being a charge nurse, nurse mentor, or nurse preceptor? Perhaps there are unit-based committees or workgroups you could contribute to, or something system-wide where you could represent your unit.

A confident female nurse wearing light blue scrubs is standing and leaning her arm on a hospital countertop. She is slightly smiling and looking straight ahead.

3. Consider what parts of your job are the most satisfying and rewarding.

Think about your most rewarding shifts on the job, and what made them stand out. Are there ways that you can do more of this? What education, skills, or certifications would better equip you for this?

4. Who do you admire?

Who would you like to be like “when I grow up”? Talk to this person and ask them for recommendations on education, including articles, webinars, and classes. And don’t overlook the simple power of asking about their philosophy on life and nursing. Often, this is more crucial to who they are and how they practice than any specific knowledge they could impart.

5. Map a blueprint.

Now that you have some notes for where you would like to go, sit down, and map out a blueprint for the best way to get there. Consider any important aspects of each step.

6. Check in with your manager.

Talk with your manager and let her/him know what you are considering. Ask if there are advancement opportunities in your unit you may not be aware of. Be sure that they know whether you want to stay at the bedside or are considering a change, so they can steer you toward the right resources. Find out if you qualify for financial assistance. You may be surprised to find just how many resources are available for the asking.

Books to Help You on Your Journey

We are excited to offer books that address these personal and professional options and offer practical advice for successfully evolving into a formal or informal nurse leader on your unit—from learning how to be an effective charge nurse to learning how to precept and mentor new nurses, and much more.

What’s Next? The Smart Nurse’s Guide to Your Dream Job or Lead Like a Nurse: Leadership in Every Healthcare Setting are books specifically directed toward professional development from the practical point of view of a bedside nurse.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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