How to Transition from Nursing Leadership to Executive Leadership

Nursing has a hierarchy. 

It usually starts as being a registered nurse then working up to be a charge nurse. 

Charge nurses then transition to a nursing management role. 

From there, it’s a long journey to become a nursing director and an even longer journey to become a senior level executive. 

Ultimately, the goal is to be a chief nursing officer. 

Right now, that pathway is shorter than where it needs to be. 

Why? Because the American healthcare system is in a crisis. 

It’s in a crisis of epic proportions. 

More than 500,000 registered nurses will leave the bedside in 2022, and they will not come back. 

This will accelerate the nursing shortage we’ve had for the past decade. 

This means we’ve got to find a way to redirect the flow of highly qualified and impactful nurses back into the profession. 

The only people that can do this are nursing leaders. 

But they won’t be able to do this from the position of nursing director or even chief nursing officer. 

This must be done by the CEO of the hospital. 

If we don’t find a way to get more nursing leaders in executive leadership roles, this crisis will persist. 

We will reach a breaking point in the American healthcare system and won’t have people to take care of the people we need. 

This is a problem. 

Most people don’t realize that when you go to a hospital, the majority of your time will be spent with nurses. 

But executives in leadership control everything. 

They control the vision of the organization. 

They control the values. 

They control the direction. 

We need more nursing leaders to control that direction. 

3 Ways to Move from Nursing Leadership to Executive Leadership 

1. Get an advanced degree. 

It’s great to have BSN or even a master’s in nursing. 

But what you need is a degree in business or one that is directly related to leadership. 

It doesn’t have to be an MBA, but something that focuses on becoming a better leader. 

2. Get formal leadership development training. 

Sign up for courses and get an executive coach. 

Find someone that can teach you how to be an executive. 

You need to know what an executive thinks like and see all aspects of leadership. 

Many times, you won’t see every aspect from the nursing chain. 

3. Develop your mindset. 

This is the most important thing you need to do. 

Change your mindset to believe that you deserve to be a CEO. 

You need to know that you are the best equipped person for the position. 

You won’t get there if you don’t believe you deserve to be there. 

Your mindset is more important than your skillset. 

You can have the right degree, training and experience, but if you don’t have the mindset, you won’t get to where you want to be. 

I encourage you to browse through my site to get the free resources I have available to help you develop the right mindset. 

It’s up to you to help us overcome this challenge in the American healthcare system. 


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