Please take a quick second to read the following Article to learn some tips on becoming the head nurse.

  1. Get an Advanced Degree. You probably aren’t going to be considered for the head of nursing or any high-ranking administrative position within a hospital without becoming an RN, and most hospitals will want someone with at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Some nurses even earn a master of science in nursing as part of an MBA or a master of health care administration, which can also increase your chances of someday becoming a head nurse.
  2. Take Extra Responsibilities Whenever Possible. The head nurse is someone who has to put in his or her time beforehand. If extra shifts are available and the current head nurse is in a pinch, don’t hesitate to offer your services if you’re free. Get a wide variety of experience by working in different departments. Apply for higher positions, like a charge nurse. Be enthusiastic while working, whether it’s training new nurses or working with the most difficult patients. One thing to keep in mind is that a head nurse should always lead by example.
  3. Shadow the Head Nurse. During your free time (if you can find any), ask the current head nurse if you can shadow her to learn what she does. You’ll need to learn how to manage people, create schedules, put out fires, work closely with physicians, maintain patients’ records, and monitor training, equipment, and supplies. A head nurse wears many hats – shadowing a head nurse will mentally prepare you for all the work you would be facing.
  4. Stay Professional. No one is going to want their boss to be someone they can’t trust. For that reason, while you should keep a high profile with a good attitude and work ethic, you should stay away from drama whenever possible. Don’t get involved with gossip, don’t complain about other staff members behind their backs, and don’t ever be seen as lazy, incompetent, or too tired to do the job. And most of all: don’t date any of your coworkers. While hospital romances aren’t exactly rare, it’s rare that someone in a leadership role got there after a dalliance with one of the other nurses or doctors on staff.
  5. Be Patient. It can take several years to become a head nurse, even if you take care of the first four things on this list. Generally speaking, becoming a head nurse takes a combination of skill and tenure. You need to be good at your job and show that you’re in it for the long haul. So if you want to get promoted to the top spot, but the only option available is a much smaller promotion or a transfer to another department, take the smaller promotion or the transfer in stride. Persistence is key to becoming a head nurse, because it’s one of the great qualities that those selecting head nurses are looking for. 

To be a head nurse, it isn’t enough to just be a good nurse. You have to show that you command the respect of others. You have to be able to give honest assessments of your fellow nurses without fear of hurt feelings or losing friendships. You have to have a strict eye for detail, because if anything goes wrong, the head nurse is the person who gets the blame. That’s the price that comes with the money, power, and respect that head nurses achieve.