When someone asks you, “What do you do?” is your standard reply “I am a nurse?” That might work every now and then, but in this increasingly interconnected world and competitive job market, it is time for you to really think about what you do. Whether you are trying to get ahead at work or just meeting with others in the industry, you want people to know not just your job title, but everything that goes with that title. Distilling your job duties and accomplishments will help when you are lobbying for a raise or when you are on a job interview - employers want to know about your successes. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. What Do You Do?
Yes, you might be a charge nurse, but what does that mean? Are you a charge nurse at a major teaching hospital who coordinates schedules of 30 nurses? Or as an ER nurse, do you typically see dozens of patients every week in your busy hospital? Do you supervise other nurses? List everything you do, even if you think it is just routine. It is routine for you, but even your boss may not know all the duties you juggle.
2. What Are Your Successes?
When you are asking for a raise or going for a promotion, you need information to back up your request. Think about any programs you introduced, any changes in patient care you implemented, any scheduling tweaks that saved your organization time or money or improved patient care. How did your suggestion make a difference?
3. What Makes You Stand Out?
Are you a mentor to younger nurses? Do you give informal lectures on work procedures or even personal well-being? Initiating these types of extra responsibilities shows drive and shows you are vested in your organization, so tell them about it. Employers want to see that because if they invest in you, they want you to stay.
4. How Have You Helped Your Patients?
Have any patients praised you for your work? Did you catch any errors? Have you taken time out of work to learn about different cultural traditions or cutting-edge care approaches? Nurses care for patients, but if you take the extra step to help them and to improve their care, that can give you the edge in a promotion or when you are at a job interview.
5. How Have You Helped Your Employer?
Higher management pays attention to patient care, but they also watch the bottom line very carefully. If there is any way you can translate your successes into dollars, you will be talking a mutual language with management. Did you improve efficiency on your unit? How much money did that save your hospital? Did your program bring improved care? Can you bring that to their attention in a dollars and sense formula? Money matters to management, a lot, so whatever ways you can show you saved money and improved efficiency is a huge bonus for you. You just have to make sure you let them know about it.
6. Of What Are You Most Proud?
Anyone in a caregiver role has a hard time tooting their own horn. Nurses think some of their daily Herculean efforts are just what they do, just part of the job. But if you make a difference, others should know about it. Tell your story in a matter-of-fact way and make sure to give kudos to others who were involved, and you will be seen as a leader who deserves recognition.