Creating Your Professional Presence in Your Nursing Career
Nursing is a hard career and even with experience it can be hard to climb up the career ladder, here are a few points to remember when your are looking to make a step up in your career:
To establish professional presence, consider the following five ingredients:
Are you able to communicate clearly, concisely and consistently in a manner that demonstrates the value you bring to the delivery of health care? This includes what you say, how you say it, what you write and how you articulate what you do as a nurse to your patients, colleagues and to the public. Communication skills are the number one skill people look for when promoting someone. If communication is a weakness of yours, find opportunities to strengthen it. Take a class, attend a seminar, volunteer to write or speak, etc.
It takes seven seconds to make a first impression. How you look; your facial expressions, body language, what you wear, what you say and how you say it, all send a message to the receiver. You want that message to say that you are a professional and that you take your role as a nurse seriously. Look in the mirror before you leave for work. Is what you’re wearing inspiring confidence in the people you care for and work with? If not, it's time to kick it up a notch!
Common courtesy and consideration go a long way to establishing professional presence. It’s what your mom taught you, “Say please and say thank you.” Are you responsive in email? Do you return phone calls within 24 – 48 hours? Do you offer to help others at work? Collectively, it’s the little things that go a long way to demonstrate to others that you are a consummate professional.
I can’t say enough about this ingredient! We have all seen the good, bad and ugly in people. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company or the janitor at a local high school. However, bad behavior seems worse in a profession that is supposed to be knowledgeable, competent, caring and compassionate. It doesn’t belong in nursing. We all have bad days, but the bad behavior becomes a pattern, that’s when we know it needs to be addressed. Ask yourself this question: "Is my behavior inspiring others in a positive or negative way?"
You might think that behavior and attitude are the same, but they’re not. Although attitude can be reflected in a person’s behavior, they are two separate ingredients. Attitude is all about your mindset, how you feel about things and how you engage in the world. We’ve all heard the comments, “He has a positive attitude” versus, “He has a negative attitude.” Attitudes are contagious - good and bad. Does your attitude convey a sense of pride in the work you do as a nurse?
Establishing professional presence as a nurse isn’t easy. Nursing isn’t easy either. However, by including the five key ingredients coupled with climbing the ladder of knowledge, you can prepare yourself for the many opportunities available in nursing today and in the future.