5 Ways Bedside Nurses can Successfully Move Into a Leadership Role

Bedside nurses have one of the most challenging jobs as they have plenty of responsibilities between direct patient care and physician consulting. This role is a balance between hard and soft skills including taking vital signs, administrating medications, changing linens, compassion and patient advocacy.  

Bedside nurses play a critical role in the face-to-face management and care of patients in various types of facilities. This proximity to patients, and their care, is why  these registered nurses look to continually enhance patient satisfaction and overall treatment. Also taking into consideration the desire for better work-life balance, these interests help to influence the desire to grow and take on various leadership roles within a healthcare facility.  

As in all career advancement, even bedside nurses could use some guidance and advice to successfully move into a newer leadership role. The following are curated pieces of advice from nurse leaders in C-suite roles to help bedside nurses considering a transition to a leadership role.  

1. Believe in yourself: Leadership is not a title or position

American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), Clinical Practice Specialist Marian Altman says, “just do it. Believe in yourself. I think all nurses have the tools. One of the things about going to nursing school is that it teaches us leadership skills. I think we do not fully appreciate that. Nurses are already leading their patients. Also, they are leading their families. They are leading the members of the healthcare team that they work with. Because they are constantly reaching out and saying, ‘I need you to look at the patient because I think something’s going on’ or ‘Are you aware of this lab work?’ I think they do not fully realize that they are leading every single time they come to work.

Leadership is about inspiring people around you and bringing them together for a cause. Here at SkillGigs, we believe that nurses do this daily and have the power to change situations and results as needed. All they need to do is believe in themselves a little more to go for leadership roles.

2. Stay positive and find support

Penn Highlands Healthcare Chief Nursing Office Heather Franci says, “women who are about to assume a clinical leadership role must always stay positive. They should remember that it is a privilege to be able to lead in a healthcare system. Take advice and listen to the concerns of others. Motivate and coach your teams. Find other female mentors and, in return, be a mentor as well. By doing this, you can stay focused on the fact that you are there to serve the patients, their families, and your community.”

Additionally, it is highly advised that bedside nurses who can find a mentor early-on in work can get much-needed guidance. A mentor can keep you grounded on good days and help you navigate your way through the bad ones. Mentors play a role in keeping your focus on the job responsibilities you need, and it never hurts to have someone to talk to. Thus, an experienced mentor can groom bedside nurses for a leadership role and help them be a mentor to others as well.

3. Listen more and follow through

Franciscan Missionaries’ executive vice president of our Lady Health System, Kristin Wolkart, says, “listen more than you speak. And do your best to follow through or follow up. Sometimes we cannot meet every request, but instead of saying no, try to find ways to meet the need, maybe differently than what the patients are asking for. Bedside nurses know what works and what does not work, and they have the best voice to help guide us into the future.”

What SkillGigs gathers from Wolkart is that bedside nurses know that listening is a very important aspect and skill needed for their job. By listening keenly to what your patients need, you are better equipped to provide the right care. Do your best to follow through with the request but be bold enough to tell the patient no when it comes to inappropriate requests. Listening helps you to become more patient-centric and think about different outcomes.

4. Do not hesitate to ask for help

Chief nursing and clinical officer, of Ohio County Healthcare, Athena Minor says, “always ask yourself, what is it that you do not know?” So, as you are leading, what is it you need assistance with? You know what you know, but what is it that you do not know? What is it that you can bring into that conversation to make things better? What support do you need to make things better because it is not your field of expertise?

Utlimately, bedside nurses who aspire to become leaders should be truthful with themselves and acknowledge areas where they lack knowledge. This is because, as nurse leaders, there may be duties that they require assistance with. Becoming a nurse leader does not imply that one knows everything. Therefore, it is crucial to be sincere and ask for guidance in addressing issues that need fixing but require help.

5. Take care of your team members

Orlando Regional Medical Centre Chief Nursing Officer Tina Santos says, “if we really focus on making sure that our team members have the right resources, the flexibility, and the emotional and physical support that they need, they are going to be their best selves. In turn, you will have the best professionals, the best humans, interacting with our patients.”

It is important to recognize that to become a nurse leader, one must consistently prioritize taking care of their team members. By doing so, team members are more likely to respond quickly to situations and provide quality care for patients and their leaders. 


Bedside nurses know how much effort it takes to deliver great patient care. They get plenty of opportunities to speak to nurse leaders and other front-line members. These interactions can serve as a springboard to go for a leadership role. Bedside nurses looking to move up in their careers should follow the above-mentioned advice from established nurse leaders. Such advice can help them navigate the career path easily and transition into a role that can have a higher impact on patient care. If you feel that you already possess these skills, make sure to log in here and add to your skill listing as well as your 3D resume. These updates will help you stand out, get matched, and land a top-paying gig that elevates your status. 

If you are new to SkillGigs, then sign up — it’s completely free. It will be your opportunity to see what roles are currently available in the market to help you adjust your career path as needed to get to your next level of success. 

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