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What nurses should look for in a boss

We all have dreams and goals for our personal life and career.  Whether you are a brand new nurse straight out of school or a seasoned nurse looking toward your future, we all need a little bit of help and guidance.  That is why a mentor is so important.  Not only to help you as a nurse just managing like I have talked about in the past, but as a nurse looking at your career in the future.

I have a couple of examples of what I am talking about, I am sure you will see what you should be looking for in a manager, and what can hold you back in your career goals.

When I am welcoming new employees to my unit, I meet with them on the first day to discuss my expectations of them, and to learn about what their goals are.  I make it clear that I know that they are not going to be working for me for ever, and that I want to help them grow as a nurse while they are on our unit so they can reach those goals.  Whether that is moving to the ICU, the ED or L&D, I know they have goals, and if I know those goals, I can help them achieve them.

This is new for a lot of nurses who are used to their managers expecting them to stay on the unit forever.  They are not used to a leader helping them and coaching them to meet and hopefully exceed those goals they have set for themselves.

Contrast that to my situation.  My organization is going though a lot of changes in the department of nursing.  Directors higher up the organizational chart have left, opening new opportunities for those managers that are looking to move up to these positions, like myself.

Last week I sent an email to my boss explaining that I am interested in moving up the ladder.  I explained my goals and asked her if she could support me and mentor me in these new positions.  I explained why I felt that I would be the perfect candidate for one of these positions and the positive changes I could make.

I received an email back that really just shot me down.  She was completely unsupportive and did not provide any positive support or feedback.  I am disheartened, and disillusioned with her and this organization that I have put some many years into.  I am seriously considering leaving because of the lack of support given to me.

Which one would you like to have?  Somebody that wants to know your dreams and helps you to achieve them, or somebody that doesn’t ask, and doesn’t seem to care or support you when you tell them?

Pretty easy choice for me.

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Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
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4 Responses to What nurses should look for in a boss

  1. megan

    A good friend of mine just transfered from Cardiac care to Nursery. She had always wanted to work in the Nursery, but took the other job to get her foot in the door. Her old boss gave her high praises and even met with the manager of the Nursery to help get her in! I thought that was a great thing to do…she said that ” if a nurse has the opportunity to do what they love, they need to jump on it!” Now that is a person looking out for someone’s best interests!
    It must be so disheartening to work in a place where your boss is unsupportive. I would follow my dreams!

  2. Melody

    I know exactly how you feel! Disheartening and unsupportive do not even begin to cover the gamit of emotions. I recently took a position ‘to get my foot in the door’, and clearly stated my intentions of my goals and expectations. These were acknowledged and I was told that during the orientation period they would work out the schematics. Well, needless to say, I am now going into two months of working nights! I have never worked nights in my life! I have tried to explain this to my manager and I get the run around and smoke screens. Non suppotive? Yep, and I am beginning to think all they wanted was a warm body to fill a night position!!

  3. Nurse Rene RN

    Sounds like you have a boss who perceives you as a ‘threat’ to her position and OWN aspirations for moving ‘up the ladder’.
    I have been in that situation many times as a bedside ICU clinician who got along and worked well with the docs and other departments.
    I was actually fired once as a pre-op assessment nurse because I was ‘finding too many things WRONG with the patients’ by a manager who only knew how to rule by intimidation and did not want anyone around who was not afraid of her.
    Good luck with your future endeavours. Personally I would not even TRY to ‘advance’ in a company where such an obvious lack of support exists. It is not worth the price of your soul.

  4. YRJ

    I am sorry that someone treated you this way.
    Never lose sight of your dreams. Don’t let the behavior of your supervisor or others cause you to make a decision that you will regret later. Continue to follow your dreams. If this person reflects the whole organization then you may want to look at a different opportunity with another organization. Or if this is just her views you may need to find another mentor.

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