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  • Tips for getting a nursing promotion

    Author: HealthTimes

It’s never too early to start thinking about the next step in your nursing career – even if it’s only your first day on the job!

While your primary focus should be on learning and succeeding at your current job, you need to make sure you are doing your best to impress your current bosses, whilst keeping your eyes open for opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills – things that will make you an ideal candidate for more senior nursing positions.

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What senior nursing roles are available?

Essentially, all nurses begin their careers among patients in a hospital ward or other healthcare setting, being responsible for delivering care to their allocated patients.

The tasks you are permitted to do are limited. However, for example, if a nurse attains the position of Nurse Practitioner (a registered nurse with a masters or PhD degree), he or she can practice at a higher level and be permitted to do higher level tasks (such as making referrals and ordering diagnostic investigations).

Other senior positions involve taking on responsibilities for overseeing the running of the health unit, by developing policies, overseeing staff training/development, initiating research and ensuring a certain quality of patient care is maintained.

People in charge of these issues include Clinical Nurse Specialists, Area Managers, Nursing Directors and Staff Development Nurses.

What can I do to enhance my chances of getting a nursing promotion?

There are several things you can do, including networking, gaining further education, committing to continuing professional development (CPD) and maintaining good professional behaviour in the workplace. These topics are covered in greater detail below.

1) Be successful at your current job

Step back and examine your current job. Are you fully competent in all the tasks you need to do? Are there gaps in your knowledge? How do your skills and knowledge compare with other nurses?

The answers to these questions should form the basis for your short-term goals which you should plan to put into action well before you intend to apply for more senior positions.

2) Networking

Talk to nurses in the more senior roles that you aspire to attain one day. Learn what is required of them, and brush up your own knowledge and skills, so that you can be fit for these positions.

Learn more about their positions in general (their duties, their working hours etc.) – is it actually the kind of job you want, or would something else suit you better?

Find out how they themselves got promoted to where they are now – has your career path been similar to theirs?

It is also helpful to develop good connections with the people you wish to work with someday, and particularly helpful to find a senior nurse who can act as a mentor to you (and possibly spread good word about you amongst the people hiring for senior positions!).

Finally, networking among senior nurses may help you become aware of upcoming job vacancies that would interest you.

3) Further education

The more education and qualifications you can list on your resume, the higher your chances of promotion. If you are an enrolled nurse, for instance, consider becoming a registered nurse through further education at a tertiary institution.

For nurses wishing to specialise, various postgraduate diplomas and certificates are available. You can also investigate your options for masters and doctoral level qualifications. A background in a relevant area of research may be attractive to some employers.

Other study options include doing online courses, participating in workshops offered by your workplace, or simple self-study at home to improve your knowledge. You should take advantage of any workplace opportunities for professional development, including online training and practical training workshops.

4) Maintain good continuing professional development (CPD)

CPD is essentially the commitment to ongoing learning (recognising that up-to-date knowledge and training is extremely important in the health profession). At present, nurses and midwives in Australia must commit to at least 20 hours of CPD per year.

What might CPD involve?

  • Keeping a journal of feedback you’ve received, patients that have been difficult to manage, experiences from which you have learned;
  • Acting as a mentor for more junior nurses/nursing students;
  • Participating in audits/accreditation committees;
  • Developing new skills, e.g. IV cannulation;
  • Reading relevant professional journals;
  • Becoming involved in developing guidelines and protocols;
  • Contributing to audits or research;
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate studies;
  • Attending conferences, and
  • Presenting lectures.
It is also important to keep a record of everything you do that has contributed to the improvement of your health service in some way – this can be included in your resume and help you sell yourself at future job interviews.

Show your initiative and commitment to the health system you are working in.

5) Professional behaviour

Be known for being professional, polite, efficient and reliable. Ask for help when you’re not sure how to do something – it is much safer and makes a better impression to allow yourself to be guided when trying to do something for a patient.

It is also essential to be a good team player – so much of healthcare involves working in teams (including other nurses, doctors, social workers, occupational therapists physiotherapists and welfare officers). Try to avoid placing blame on others and help others out where you can.

6) Stand out

A good candidate for senior positions always stands out. Try taking on extra duties, e.g. volunteering for optional tasks such as giving a presentation, asking for more responsibilities in your job, or participating in a project.

Offer to assist nurses/doctors with patients that may be difficult to manage. You will become more valuable to your health service – someone that your bosses will be keen to keep on their employment books.

  1. Live Career
  2. Nursing Times
  3. Health.Vic
  4. Western Australia Department of Health


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