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4+ tips to climb the periop ladder

Publish Date: 8/29/2012

You've put in the hours, your qualifications are top notch, but you're not getting the promotions that you believe you deserve. What should you be doing to move up the ladder in your facility...your system...the perioperative profession?

According to Kathy Yeager, a human resources expert who's worked for HCA and Exempla Healthcare, there are lots of opportunities both in and around the OR where you can get the recognition you need for advancement. Here are a few of her suggestions:

Become the director's right hand
"Take on projects and get to know the systems that help an OR run well," advises Yeager. "If or when your director moves on, you're likely to be named interim and then be considered for the promotion."

Embrace new technology
Yeager points out that decision-makers will notice those who are ready and willing to take on the new technologies. Health care information technology (HCIT) is moving at such a rapid pace that all facility types are looking for staff who will embrace the evolving tech challenges, especially in the OR where safety and efficiency are crucial to the bottom line. She suggests you align yourself with others in the OR who are influencing decisions around the use of technology.

Support employee engagement
Show your leadership around building a positive culture in the workplace. On the surface, employee engagement activities may seem like just fun and games but according to Yeager, "they are skills that will never leave you." She suggests you volunteer to run employee engagement activities such as recognition lunches, even birthday celebrations. There might also be opportunities to put employee engagement systems in place.

Get out of your rut
Say "yes" to invitations to attend after-work gatherings (including AORN chapter meetings). Pick up some shifts at another facility. "Get to know other people and leverage your relationships," advises Yeager. There are many places outside your facility where you can let others know you're interested in having an expanded role and more responsibilities.

Still not happening?
Yeager recommends discussing your goals with your director. Performance appraisals are a good setting for two-way conversations. "Ask your manager what you can do to move forward," says Yeager. "Ask for a plan." If the director isn't behind you, go somewhere else. Consider, too, whether the director is going anywhere because they might be in a rut themselves. If that's the case, look elsewhere.

Kathleen Yeager Consulting is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The firm specializes in coaching and building employee engagement cultures. Kathy also has extensive healthcare human resources experience and her clients include healthcare institutions.

Other Resources 

Explore career opportunities at the AORN Career Center

Consider interim leadership placement with AORN Works

ANA/AORN Leadership Institute Webinar Series 

For nurses who want to unlock leadership potential
Register under ANA rate for special savings. Code AORNANA
Learn more

Guidelines for Perioperative Practice


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