Saying Yes to Your Nursing Career

Saying Yes to Your Nursing Career

In healthcare and nursing, there’s always so much in our career we can say no to; however, there are plenty of things we find ourselves saying yes to.

Granted, it’s always empowering to say no to things like working a double shift when you’re exhausted, accepting bullying and incivility as normal, working without adequate PPE, and unsafe staffing levels that put your license and your patients at risk. But those enlightening moments of saying yes and recognizing latent potential can open doors of perception in your mind and opportunities in your life and career.

Saying Yes to Experience

When you sit down in your first nursing class, your lifelong pursuit of building a professional network must begin. That person in the row ahead of you? He may end up being your boss someday. That other student in the back? She might be the key to an incredible opportunity when she founds her nurse-run startup in seven years.

When the opportunity arises to join an interesting committee, become an EMR super user, speak or present at a conference, or take just one more step into commitment. What we’ll call your professional maturation, you’re embracing your evolutionary growth.

If a fantastic job unexpectedly falls in your lap, but you feel reticent to take it because you don’t want your colleagues to feel “abandoned,” this is an important moment to say yes in your best interest. Remember that many of your colleagues would do the same if they were in your shoes, and most will be happy for your good fortune.

No doubt, saying yes to experience can be life-changing.

Saying Yes to Connection

In the preceding section, we mentioned joining a workplace committee. But, again, these experiences can expose you to relationships and connections you would otherwise miss out on. And going to a nursing conference is an excellent experience, especially because you’ll have the chance to meet some fabulous like-minded people.

Your professional network is like your personal brain trust, and building that network over time is an investment that can pay more dividends than you might ever have imagined.

Saying Yes to Prioritizing Yourself

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned things that are prudent to say no to a double shift, bullying and incivility, working with inadequate PPE, and unsafe staffing. Unfortunately, knowing when to say no is as much an art as saying yes.

Saying no to the above scenarios translates to saying yes to prioritizing yourself and your needs. It’s great to help out the team and pick up an extra shift if you have the energy and stamina, but not taking the shift is a win if your reason to do so would solely be guilt.

Likewise, by saying yes to civil discourse and a violence-free workplace (bullying can undoubtedly be characterized as a form of workplace violence), you’re taking a stand for your well-being, not to mention the well-being of your coworkers and patients. Telling a bully that you won’t tolerate their behavior is a resounding yes to your psyche.

Saying yes to self-prioritization is a powerful statement of self-affirmation and valuing your needs and desires. Some might call it selfishness, but you can also call it surviving and thriving.

Saying Yes When It’s Right

As mentioned, there are plenty of things to say no to in healthcare and nursing. And we have established that there’s plenty to say yes to.

Whether it’s a novel experience, a new connection with a valued colleague, or a yes to what you want and need, saying yes can be fodder for a robust, satisfying, and happy nursing career. Saying no or yes is always your right, and knowing when to do so is key to long-term success.

Minority Nurse is thrilled to feature Keith Carlson, “Nurse Keith,” a well-known nurse career coach and podcaster of The Nurse Keith Show as a guest columnist. Check back every other Thursday for Keith’s column. 

Vanderbilt Launches Leadership Program for Diverse New Nurse Leaders and Faculty

Vanderbilt Launches Leadership Program for Diverse New Nurse Leaders and Faculty

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing created a new leadership development program for nurses new in health care leadership and academic positions who are from groups historically underrepresented in nursing and/or those who support them. The Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders will be held in Nashville from November 14-18. Applications for the inaugural class of fellows are now being accepted.

“The need for nursing faculty and nurse leaders from groups historically underrepresented in nursing is well established, but research shows a need for career development resources that address the specific needs and challenges of diverse nurse leaders,” says Pamela Jeffries, PhD., FAAN, ANEF, FSSH, dean of Vanderbilt School of Nursing. “We believe that the knowledge, mentorship, strategy, and skills that new leaders will attain via the Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders will empower them to continue to advance and lead.”

VUSN Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Rolanda Johnson and Vanderbilt University Medical Center Senior Director for Nurse Diversity and Inclusion Mamie Williams will co-direct the academy, designed for nurses who have been in academic or health care leadership roles for less than three years.

“What makes this fellows program different from other professional development opportunities is that it incorporates and builds on the lived experiences of diverse faculty and health care leaders who have navigated a similar leadership path,” says Johnson. “It explores the challenges of being a leader from an underrepresented group as well as the challenges of supporting and expanding diversity in nursing leadership.”

Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders

Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders

Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders

The academy is taught by experienced faculty and health care leaders from diverse backgrounds and is specifically designed to serve the needs of new and emerging nurse leaders and faculty. In addition to the initial five-day, in-person meeting, fellows will also participate in virtual sessions, receive mentorship from an executive coach and institutional mentor and develop a leadership project.

Williams said that the idea for the academy resonated with her as she thought about her own nurse leadership journey of more than 25 years. “This leadership academy, based on specialized education, discussions, and interactions with peers and diverse nurse leaders, affords the emerging leader an opportunity to thoughtfully design their leadership journey,” she says.

She and Johnson said the academy was developed to help new nursing faculty and new nurse leaders build skills, gain knowledge, and build a network of colleagues and mentors to help them advance their careers and mentor other emerging nurse leaders.

Applications for the first cohort of the Academy for Emerging Diverse Nurse Leaders are now open and available at For more information and details on the academy, visit

5 Tips to Prepare for a Promotion

5 Tips to Prepare for a Promotion

If you want a promotion, you need to be ready for one. As you move through each step of your nursing career, change is the one constant companion. Your job will change, your patients change, technology and evidence-based practice will change. Being ready for those fluctuations is the best way to have a successful career.

If you plan for change and actually take steps to make sure you’re prepared to move your career in the direction you want, your choices will be more on target.

Because promotions are the way to increase your pay, assume more responsibility, and move you toward your career goals, you have to be an active participant in the process. Waiting for a promotion doesn’t always mean it’s going to come your way—even if you deserve it.

Here are some ways to actively plan for having a chance at getting that promotion.

Position Yourself for Leadership

Whether you want a promotion that is an advancement or a lateral move that gives you new skills, making sure your superiors know you’re open to something new is your first step. This one is important—don’t assume people know what you want.

Take on Responsibility

Seek out ways to take on more responsibility at work. If you don’t see anything obvious, find it. Ask your supervisor if you can help in a different area or ask what’s needed to advance in your organization. Become knowledgeable about a specific practice so that people on your team begin to rely on you for that task.

Get Certified

Getting certification shows the leaders in your organization that you’re serious about being the best nurse you can be. The time and effort it takes to get certified isn’t just a minor thing, so the work you’re putting in is for your own professional development. Becoming certified is a clear signal that you want to remain at the top of your nursing specialization and that you’ll take steps to achieve that goal.

Become Prominent in the Community

Join a professional organization and become an active member. You won’t gain anything by just joining—you really have to become involved. Lead a committee or speak at a conference. Offer to mentor a new nurse or seek out a mentor for yourself. Actively connect with the available networks and become someone who has something to offer, not just to seek out something.

Document Your Success

Keep track of your successes so when it’s time for your next review and potential promotion, you will have it all available. It’s easy to forget what you have done or when you were praised for a job well done, so keeping track of it all means nothing will slip through the cracks. You want to come to your review prepared to tell your story of how well the year went, where you want to go, and in what ways you’ll continue to work to make your efforts worthwhile to your organization.

With some strategic goals and actions on your part, you’ll be ready when the next opportunity comes up.