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How can I work my way into a management from a staff nurse position?



Dear Donna,

How does one work their way into a management position from a staff nurse? I would love to move up in my career as time goes on but not sure what steps I need to take.

Wants to Move into Management,

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants to Move into Management,

It’s wonderful that you have a plan and a vision for you future. Managers can have a very positive impact on the work environment, on individual careers and certainly on patient care. Read “Gearing up for management” (

Start looking for opportunities to take on more responsibility and/or work on special projects such as being a preceptor, getting on a recruitment/retention committee or working on the schedule or budget as examples. Work to be a positive role model for your peers.

You can also do this through your professional associations. Consider running for a local chapter board position or join an association committee. All of these activities help you to develop your leadership, communication and conflict management skills and allow you to work on poise and confidence. These are all skills and attributes needed to be an effective leader.

During your annual performance appraisal, or even before if it is more than a few months away, let your supervisor know of your aspirations. Ask him for advice and support in working toward your goal. It’s good to state your professional goals.

Join the Association of Nurse Executives ( as it is open to any nurses interested in nursing leadership. This is also a great way or place to find role models and mentors.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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