Department: Leadership Q&A
Associate Executive Director, Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive, Lenox Hill Hospital/North Shore-LIJ Health System, New York, N.Y.
So you didn't get that promotion…now what?
Q I was in line for a director position but someone from the outside got it. Should I leave?
Not necessarily. I know you're disappointed, especially if you really had your heart and mind set on the position; I've been there, too. Don't regard this as a devastating situation, rather, an opportunity to learn about yourself and your organization. It doesn't mean you aren't valued or capable.
Ask for honesty from your boss. Why didn't you get the position? Was it because the outside applicant was more of a perfect fit for the job based on the workplace environment and expectations of the successful candidate? Or was it because your experience and skill set need development? In both scenarios, use the feedback to position yourself for future opportunities. Skills are easier to improve than style, and both are important to your candidacy for other positions. Also ask what development and career ideas there are, or can be, for you at the organization. Formalize them with a joint plan, if possible.
Don't close doors behind you because this can impede future prospects both inside and outside your organization. And don't make any decisions while you're emotional; wait until you can rationally evaluate what you've learned and what your next best step should be. If you choose to seek employment elsewhere, don't criticize your current employer and leave on good terms.
I've often seen one door close while another one opens. Be open and ready for the next door that's right for you and your professional career, either inside or outside your organization.
This way to specialty certification
Q How can I increase staff specialty certification rates?
There are many reasons why specialty certification is worth attaining, so I totally agree with you on working toward an increase in the percentage of certified nurses in your organization.1 I don't know where you're starting—5% or 50%—however, the strategies remain the same.
As Daniel Pink tells us in his best-selling book on motivation, intrinsic (internal) motivation is more long-lasting and successful than extrinsic (external) motivation.2 Although we tend to first move toward extrinsic motivators, such as higher compensation, there has to be a solid foundation of intrinsic purpose and value for a motivator to be truly effective.
Purpose and value involves education, mentoring, and role modeling for each and every staff member. Unit champions can be enormously helpful. Recognition is just as critical, such as posting names of certified nurses on the unit. I send a card to every certified nurse for National Certified Nurses Day in March. Some organizations include certification credentials on ID badges. You may build certification into your clinical ladder program or your clinical award criteria. Set personal goals with staff during annual evaluations.
Extrinsic motivators include paying a certification differential or bonus. Compensating for prep courses and exam fees, as well as the day off to take the exam, is another idea. Holding on-site courses or study groups and practice sessions helps. To assuage fear of failure, paying for the exam whether the nurse passes or fails is something to consider. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (http://www.nursecredentialing.org) has very useful information, in addition to the websites of the specialty organizations that sponsor certification programs.
Certification is good for patients, staff, and managers from many perspectives. It certainly sets the stage for a positive professional practice environment and improved patient outcomes—two things we all strive to enhance in our roles as nurse leaders.
2. Pink D. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
. New York, NY: Riverhead Books; 2011.