Climbing the clinical ladder is something every nurse faces at some point in their career. Seasoned professional or newbie, anyone who works in the medical field gets stuck in a rut from time to time and may feel as though they aren’t advancing. Whether you want to get ahead for financial reasons, or you feel you are ready to move up to the next rung on the clinical ladder you shouldn’t have to wait endlessly and watch as others get promoted. You’ve worked too hard to become a nurse.

Not climbing the clinical ladder can have a detrimental impact on your job in many different ways, the worst being career burnout. If you dread going in for your next shift, or feel as though you’ve done certain medical procedures so often you could do them in your sleep, then you are facing the possibility of burnout and you’d best address it by reviewing your options for advancing in your career.

Here are 5 hacks for climbing the clinical ladder that will help you, as well as your nurse managers and supervisors, realize your full potential as a medical professional. Don’t think of it as beating the system. Although the system does tend to move at a snail’s pace sometimes, these hacks will improve your skills while getting those in charge to notice your abilities and talent.

5 Hacks for Climbing the Clinical Ladder


Show Up– There’s a popular quote that goes “80% of success in life is just showing up” and there’s a lot of truth to that. Being on time and prepared for your shift shows a strength of character and commitment that won’t go unnoticed. You’ll gain the reputation of someone who can be counted on and that will take you far-fast.

Anticipate What Needs to Be Done-Never assume to dictate patient care if you’re new to nursing and new to your place of employment, however there are many other situations in which you can take the lead. Answer calls, tidy up and go where help is needed. Establish yourself as a self-starter and you’ll be given more responsibilities, along with a boost to climbing the clinical ladder.

Find a Mentor-Everyone could use a guide to help navigate the tricky course of a new job. Seek out a more seasoned and established nurse and ask them for advice. Be sure to let them know you respect them, their position, and their knowledge. Not only will a mentor appreciate the opportunity to help a new nurse, or someone new to the staff, but they will impart wisdom and all the ins-and-outs it might otherwise take months, if not years, to acquire on your own.

Boost Your Knowledge-Taking part in continued professional development demonstrates a seriousness and dedication to your job. The fact that you are willing to take on extra duties that require an investment of your personal time, such as certification and licensing for an array of nursing skills, lets those in charge know you’re fully embracing your position and will dedicate yourself all the way while climbing the clinical ladder.

Take on the Tasks No One Else Wants-Frequently, nursing, or any position in a clinical setting, is about some messy tasks. You won’t see everyone lining up to take on these difficult jobs. Be the one who steps to the font of the line without being asked. Everyone is required to do things they don’t want to do, but things that are necessary to maintain patient care and comfort. When you become “that nurse” who is always willing to go the extra mile and take on the tasks no one else wants you will stand out and likely move up quickly while climbing the clinical ladder.

A Few More Take-Aways

As you progress while climbing the clinical ladder don’t forget to share the spotlight with those who have helped you along the way. Never accept accolades bestowed upon you without highlighting the people who worked alongside you on your way. No one appreciates a showoff and attempting to steal the spotlight for yourself will ultimately do you more harm than good.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and work outside your comfort zone. Try a new field or specialty from time to time. This will allow you to test the waters and see where else you might feel called, as well as open up scores of networking opportunities.

As you are climbing the clinical ladder maintain your integrity and be kind to everyone. Don’t ever forget your first priority is patient care. Your nursing skills and people skills are both important when climbing the clinical ladder.


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