Career Moves: From Shift Nurse to Leadership

Career Moves: From Shift Nurse to Leadership

You’ve been working as a shift nurse for a few years. You love it, and you love caring for patients. But there’s always been something else calling to you: leadership.

How do you start? What steps should you take? Do you need more education?

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

Making the Shift to Leadership

 

“Think about how you want to influence the health care system at large,” says Rachel Neill, MSN, RN, CPPS, Founder of InnovatRN Consulting, Chief Clinical Advisor for HealthEdGlobal, and a Clinician Advocate at Vivian Health. “Leadership roles often provide opportunities to affect change at higher levels and support health care teams across disciplines.”

If you’re not certain that leadership is for you, Ophelia M. Byers, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, NEA-BC, CPXP, CDE, Chief Nursing Office, Overlook Medical Center, and Associate Chief Nurse Executive, Atlantic Health System says “it’s important to gain knowledge that will inform decision-making.” Read nurse leadership textbooks, journal articles, and books by or including nurse leaders. She suggests Fast Facts for Making the Most of Your Career in Nursing, edited by Dr. Rhoda Redulla.

Once you’ve decided to move to leadership, Byers says you need to determine your track. “There are two formal leadership roles: supervisory/managerial and non-supervisory/functional. In supervisory or managerial leadership, the leader has direct and indirect reports that comprise a team and is responsible for the care of those people and the operation, e.g., staff on a clinical unit. In non-supervisory or functional leadership, the leader does not have any reporting team members but rather is responsible for overseeing a specific function (e.g., Nurse Educator) or program (e.g., Magnet Program Director),” she explains.

Find a mentor, says Desiree Hodges, MBA, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, The Vice President of Care Services at the ALS Association North Carolina. “Having someone in your corner is truly key. I recommend having a trusted source give you a 360 evaluation, taking personality surveys, etc. We all have blind spots when it comes to communication, which allows you to recognize your bias,” she explains.

Know about the tasks you may be doing that you aren’t doing now. “You may oversee budgets, organize staff training, and otherwise ensure that nurses follow the right procedures and protocols,” advises Kelly Conklin, MSN, CENP, SVP, Chief Clinical Officer for PerfectServe.

If you don’t have that experience, you may need to earn a higher degree than the one you hold and/or obtain certifications. “Know your organization’s requirements, reach out to your current leader and discuss your plans to obtain the necessary degrees or certifications,” says Hodges. “The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has an online course designed just for nurses new to leadership roles that cover the basics of finance, human resources, safety, and quality, as well as the leadership skills to be successful in the role of nurse manager.”

Trust your instincts as well, Neill says. And don’t forget your experiences as a nurse at patients’ bedsides. “When moving into a leadership role, it is important to have a direct leader and health care system that will support you as you navigate this transition. In addition, the nurse leader serves as the first-line advocate for the nurses doing the daily work. You cannot support the nurses adequately without a team/system to support you as a leader,” she says.

Conklin says that no matter what you choose to do, “Don’t cut yourself off from opportunities—whatever they may be—that challenge your thinking and bring you to a higher knowledge.”

Some of the Many Benefits of Being an NP

Some of the Many Benefits of Being an NP

Between the role’s autonomy and the hours’ flexibility, there’s never been a better time to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP).

What are the advantages of becoming an NP? Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly enough space to list them all, but our sources will give you a good idea of some.

Benefits of Becoming an NP

 

“I believe that nurse practitioners bring a unique perspective to the relationship with our patients. Our educational foundation is rooted in the nursing model, whereas physicians are trained in a more traditional medical model. Nurse practitioners are accustomed to treating the entire patient rather than solely treating a disease or condition,” says Teresa Cyrus, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, co-owner of Integrative Geriatrics, a practice that provides care to underserved adults and seniors in rural Minnesota.

“I believe it is a more holistic approach to patient care. For example, if my patient is being seen for frequent falls, I can visit their home to determine what may be contributing to them. In addition, I will check in with the nursing staff and the patient’s family to get additional perspectives when developing a treatment plan, and then continue to monitor the patient closely after our visit,” she says.

Cyrus, an assistant professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, adds that NPs have been filling roles where it’s been more difficult to recruit physicians in geriatrics, family practice, and rural areas. “In the past several years, I have also seen an increase in NPs working as hospitalists, in more nuanced specialty areas, and even as medical directors.”

Role of NP is Changing

In many states, the role of the NP has or is changing.

“NPs’ role and scope of practice have expanded depending on the state where they are licensed to practice. For example, in my state, NPs can practice independently. That means they can own, manage, and operate their clinics without a collaborating physician,” explains Rei Serafica, Ph.D., who is a full-time faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing and works once a week at an inpatient psychiatric mental health facility in North Las Vegas.

“Some NPs are entrepreneurs, consultants, educators, and even researchers. Some NPs work in academics like me. We are [training] future NPs, and we also manage and balance our careers by devoting a day to practice as NPs to maintain our professional skills and credentials. In other words, it is a dynamic profession that offers flexibility and multiple career opportunities.”

Opportunities for NPs Are Endless

The opportunities seem endless regardless of the type of NP a nurse chooses to become.

“The healthcare system has found relief in employing us in all sectors. NPs are seen everywhere now—from clinics to hospitals and are at the front, cutting-edge of clinical research, faculty, and teaching,” states Isra Hashmi, FNP-BC, who works in private practice. She adds that job security is a big relief because not only are NPs not going anywhere, and their career is only expected to grow.

Nicole Beckmann, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP-PC, embodies the diversity of working as an NP, as she has worked in three different specialties over 15 years of practice.

“[I] find this to be one of the important ways I can continue to grow professionally and challenge my skills. Additional benefits include increased autonomy in decision-making and management of health conditions. Nurses use their holistic approach to patient care to see patients’ health problems in the context of their lifestyles, personal goals, and preferences. In addition, nurses recognize their patients as people, learning each patient’s story, priorities, and unique needs. [We] bring this approach to the patient/provider relationship to diagnose conditions and partner with patients to determine the best treatment options. Patients appreciate this connection and the meaningful relationships they form with their NP providers. This is what makes being a nurse practitioner so satisfying.”

Hours are Long, But Have an Upside

As for hours, NPs may still have to work long hours, but Beckmann explains the upside of it.

“Depending on the work setting of the nurse practitioner, hours may include evening, overnight, or weekend shifts. However, this also means that nurse practitioners can choose a position and work schedule that fits their lifestyle. For example, part-time positions, extended shifts, and block scheduling may allow for long periods off or for the nurse practitioner to have the work/life balance they seek,” she says.

Cyrus says she loves her job, “Being an NP is tremendously rewarding, and I encourage any nurse who expresses interest to pursue that calling.”

Chatting with Nurse Blake, RN and Most Popular Nurse Advocate on SM: Part 3

Chatting with Nurse Blake, RN and Most Popular Nurse Advocate on SM: Part 3

Have you read Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with popular nurse influencer and nursing advocate Nurse Blake? Catch up before reading Part 3.

Whether you know Nurse Blake from his Facebook videos, podcast, live shows, or cruises, he’s proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with!

Tell me a little bit about your shows. You had done some smaller ones, but how did it all progress?

It was just trying it out, honestly. I was like, “People like my videos. Maybe I’ll do a show.” I asked people, if I did a show, vote for your city. I think we had 40,000 votes. I thought, “Holy crap! People really want to see a show.” I’m like, oh my god, I’m going to put a show together. What would that even look like? And you know, people came out. First, I did five shows. Then I did 10, then we scaled up and did, like, 50, and they all sold out. I was only supposed to do 14 shows, but those all sold out, so I’m doing 50 again.

I’m lucky enough to be repped by CAA. They’re so awesome, you know? They work with me on what venues I want. I love to keep my ticket prices at a pretty good rate so even nursing students can come.

It’s a one-person show. It is just me. It’s a mix of stand-up but with skits and videos that I show that people have never seen before. I now break it up into three parts–my life growing up, nursing school, and nursing. It goes with my journey and my flow.

One of the other reasons I decided to do my show is that I was speaking at many nursing conventions at nursing conferences and hospitals. They wanted to tell me what I could or couldn’t and what I should say.

And I was like, you know what? I’m a nurse. I don’t advocate for these hospitals. I’m a nurse. I advocate for the nurses. So in my show, I say what I want to say. I feel like I could be vulnerable and share the good and bad that the nurses go through.

But at the end of the day, while it’s funny, and I poke fun at many things, I leave nurses feeling inspired, making them realize that they’re not alone.

What’s cool about my show is that I have audience members who are 18 or 19, to nurses who have been nurses for over 60 years. I have families come–different generations, where the grandma was a nurse, then the daughter, and now a grandson. I have whole units that come–groups of 30, and they make t-shirts.

Listen, no matter which age/specialty you are, we could all get in a room and laugh, right? We could all feel the sense of community and love because I know what the hard days are like. I know what it’s like to have a shitty shift, and you’re wondering, “Is nursing really for me?”

And just knowing that you’re not alone is powerful and keeps you going. So that’s what I like to show through my performances.

What have you learned from your nursing career trajectory?

I learned in just working with patients that you only live once. You can never be perfect, especially in this profession, and as a nurse, you have to do something that you really love. So, never, ever feel like you’re stuck anywhere. If you’re at a point you don’t like or dread waking up or going to that shift, switch it up.

We’re critical thinkers and innovators, so you should do that with your job and career. Mix it up. I’ve also learned to take risks and have fun, not take life so seriously, and live in the moment, you know?

After every show, when the theaters are empty and clear, I sit alone on the stage and think about everyone who came. We know our patients’ stories but often don’t know the stories of our co-workers and nurses. So, I try to get to know where nurses come from, who they are as individuals, and where they’re going because I think so many times, we look at each other like co-workers, but at the end of the day, we’re also patients in our way.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Oh, that’s a good question. One, that my husband’s 6’7.” And that I have anxiety and depression. I take my Wellbutrin in the morning. I take my Lexapro in the evening.

Many people see me and have misconceptions about people who have a presence online. Because you only see us when we post, right? I try and get raw and real. You see that from me when I’m in my show, and I share. No one knows I’ve ever had a panic attack before unless you’ve seen my show or that I’ve had multiple panic attacks. That’s what would surprise people maybe the most.

Is there anything I haven’t talked with you about that you think is important for our nurse readers to know?

Even though I have this comedy and humor platform, I balance that out with my advocacy. I launched a petition that got over half a million signatures to have organizations like the Joint Commission help us focus on safe staffing. I advocate for healthier work environments for nurses. I know we all hear the term “Nurses eat their young,” so I came out with the campaign “Nurses Support Their Young.” So as much as I love comedy, as much as I love doing shows, I also love advocacy work.

Why do you like doing what you’re doing so much? How do you think you’re making a difference as a nurse advocate?

I felt through nursing school that to make a difference, you had to have a master’s degree, have all these fancy letters behind your name, or go back to school to get your nurse practitioner. And when I was in nursing school back in 2013, I was denied being able to donate blood because I’m gay.

So, I started a campaign called Band4Life. I decided that I would help get the FDA to end its lifetime ban on gay males from donating blood. But I also worked as a patient care tech and went through nursing school. So, I thought that the FDA wouldn’t listen to me. But I started this campaign, shook it up with the FDA, and in December 2015, they ended the lifetime ban.

And that’s when I realized the power I had just as a nursing student. So many people think, “I’m just a nurse, or I just have my RN, or I just have my bachelor’s, or whatever.” But no matter where you are within your nursing journey, you have the power to create change. So, I encourage nurses to use their voices and not be scared. Because if you see a problem, if you don’t try to change it or fix it, who is?

Be sure to catch Nurse Blake’s PTO Comedy Tour throughout the U.S. and select cities in Australia.

Alessandra Chung, RN, BSN, Wins the 2022 Pure Foundation Fund

Alessandra Chung, RN, BSN, Wins the 2022 Pure Foundation Fund

For the second year in North America, WaterWipes has awarded a Pure Foundation Fund, which awards the department of the winning healthcare provider $9,000, as well as a 6-month supply of WaterWipes.

According to a statement from WaterWipes, the Pure Foundation Fund “recognizes the outstanding work of healthcare heroes who have made a difference in the lives of parents and babies in their pregnancy, birth, and postnatal journey.

Out of the 266 healthcare providers nominated, Alessandra Chung, a nurse for the Southcentral Foundation as a home-visiting nurse with the Nutaqusiivik program (part of the Nurse Family Partnership) in Anchorage, Alaska, won. She and the program serve Alaska Native and American Indian families living in Anchorage and the surrounding communities. In addition to an award plaque, Chung receives a $100 Visa gift card and flowers.

Chung took time to answer Daily Nurse’s questions about being this year’s award winner and how the money and wipes will help her work.

What did it feel like when you learned you won the WaterWipes Pure Foundation Award? Did you expect it?

It was a complete surprise; I had no idea my coworker, Sarah Swanland had nominated me! I was finishing my maternity leave, so it was terrific news to share with my colleagues once I returned to work. After learning more about this incredible program, I felt excited and honored to be selected.

I’m incredibly grateful and honored to be recognized by the Pure Foundation Fund. I love the team of nurses I work with and hold them in such high regard. I think any of them could have been the winner, so I am honored that Sarah thought of me.

What type of work do you do? How long have you been doing it? For what community? Why do you enjoy it?

I have been a nurse for 15 years and have been a part of Southcentral Foundation’s Nutaqsiivik Nurse Family Partnership for the last four. The Nutaqusiivik program is a voluntary nurse home-visiting program working with Alaska Native and American Indian families from pregnancy until the child is two-years-old.

The program’s overall goals are to improve pregnancy outcomes and child health and development. Still, what I love most is uncovering each mom’s heart’s desire for their children and encouraging them to become the parents they want to be. Of course, every new mom’s situation and needs are unique, so we never want them to feel pressured to approach the program in a specific way

My position is the perfect mix between maternal health nursing and psychosocial nursing. I love how holistic my role is and advocating for my patients while teaching them how to advocate for themselves and their families.

Winning $9,000 for your department, plus a six-month supply of WaterWipes, is amazing. But do you know yet how the Southcentral Foundation’s Nutaqsiivik Nurse Family Partnership will use the money?

We’re still discussing where the funds will be used to support the moms and babies in our community. This will positively impact the families we serve by allowing us to continue advocating for and empowering moms on their journeys to be the parents they want to be.

How do you make a difference in the communities you serve? What are the biggest challenges in the communities?

Every mom is different, and every situation is unique. Just being there for each mom, meeting them where they are in their journeys, and encouraging them to be the parents they want to be is how we make a difference every day in our community. When moms are supported and empowered, they are, in turn, able to support and empower their children, and that is where generational growth and change can happen. So it’s long-term change and prevention that is our goal.

What are the most significant rewards you experience by working with the people you serve?

First, serving the Alaska Native/American Indian community is an honor. I love to be able to come alongside and partner with families on their journeys. It is always a privilege to be invited into a family’s home and trusted with their stories and dreams. I’ve encountered all sorts of challenges new and expecting mothers face, and through it all, it’s always worthwhile to see them understand that they can do this.

And even when things don’t turn out as we hope, I am honored to support them through maybe that grief and loss too. At the end of the program, we host a graduation ceremony where the moms are given a chance to celebrate their growth and achievements alongside their children, and the smiles and gratitude I receive are their rewards.

What was your favorite part about this whole experience? Why are you proud of the work you do?   

There were many great things about this experience, the first being that Sarah called me and told me she nominated me, and I won. I remember being in the parking lot of my PT’s office feeling torn about leaving my baby to go back to work, and it was so encouraging for her to tell me this.

My second favorite part was making the video; one of the moms I worked with was willing to participate. That was special. I’m proud of my work because it’s what holistic nursing is all about–truly meeting the patient where they are and educating and advocating for what they want for themselves and their families.

Being a nurse in Alaska, working with the Alaska Native population is the best. I wouldn’t want to be a nurse anywhere else.

Chatting with Nurse Blake, RN and Most Popular Nurse Influencer on SM: Part 2

Chatting with Nurse Blake, RN and Most Popular Nurse Influencer on SM: Part 2

Have you read Part 1 of our interview with popular nurse influencer and nursing advocate Nurse Blake? Well, if not, read that here before reading Part 2.

Whether you know Nurse Blake from his Facebook videos, podcast, live shows, or cruises, he’s proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with!

Have you always wanted to be a nurse?

Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. My dad has been a respiratory therapist for as long as I’ve been alive–31 years on the night shift. I remember hearing all his incredible stories about the people he helped and saved while growing up.

While respiratory’s really cool, nursing provides a few more opportunities and specialties you could get into. So, in high school, I started in the Health Academy. Then, the summer after I graduated, I was doing my prereqs for nursing. After that, there honestly wasn’t any other career I’d considered outside healthcare, specifically nursing.

 

I also started in healthcare early. When I was 17, I got my first job in healthcare as a patient transporter, and then I worked my way up. First, I worked as a surgical assistant in surgery, cleaning up all the rooms and sterilizing them before and after procedures. Then I also worked as a patient care tech in the neuro ICU during nursing school.

After you finished nursing school, where did you go from there?

I’ve gone all over. I got my first nursing job on a pulmonary care unit in South Carolina on the night shift, and that’s where I did my new grad residency programs. Then I moved to Houston, Texas. I worked at two of the large systems there in critical care on a liver transplant ICU floor. Then I also worked as an injury prevention coordinator for one of the busiest trauma center centers in the country at Ben Taub Hospital, Harris Health System.

I was part of the trauma team, where I would respond to all the traumas, see what mechanisms of injury came in, and then try to develop programs to prevent those injuries from happening in the community. Then I worked as a care coordinator in the trauma unit, where I worked very closely with social workers and all the teams, ensuring you were preparing patients for discharge and making sure they were ready to go home. Then I started getting into education.

I’ve been fortunate to work as a nurse in different states around this country and have different roles in nursing, too. I think it gives me a unique perspective of the nursing continuum–how we care for patients from before they get to the hospital until they go home, preparing new nurses to get into nursing, etc.

I take a little bit of every job I’ve had and put that into the work I do now. I tell stories in the advocacy work that I’m a part of. Because, so many times, we think the grass is greener on the other side, or you don’t know what other specialties go through. But we all pretty much go through the same shit.

Does Brett work with you?

Yes. I always bring him out on stage. People love Brett!

We run NurseCon, our education arm, where we provide nurses with free CNEs through our app. We have about 80,000 users. Nurses from all over can get their CNEs for free through us. We also have NurseCon at Sea, our nursing conference on a cruise ship.

Last year, we had 3,500 nurses. We take over a whole ship with Royal Caribbean, give nurses CNEs, and have parties and bring on dancers, drag queens, and educators. It was so popular that we’re doing two cruises next year. So, we’ll have about 6,000 nurses go through our conference next year

What kind of CNEs do you offer?

We do a wide array. We do get into specialties a little bit on our app. We are growing that library and have full plans to offer even courses for nurse practitioners in the future. At NurseCon at Sea, we’re going to have 35 CNE hours. We have 20 educators that will come on board, and we break it up into four different pillars and build our courses from there.

Why do you offer the CNEs for free?

Because it’s something I’m really passionate about. As nurses, we get our CNEs all the time, and I always hated paying for them. They were never very good. They were always, like, really boring. So some programs said, oh, we offer free CNEs, but it was typically for 1 or 2, or it was free, but then you had to pay to print the certificate.

So, I’m like, “Screw that!” If we’re going to NurseCon, all our CNEs will be free. So, it’s something I’m super proud of, and it’s totally worth it.

Check back next week for part 3 of our Q&A Blog Series with Nurse Blake and learn how he got into standup comedy and how he’s making a difference in nursing.

Ad