As you settle into your nursing career you may begin to think about management possibilities, especially if you find yourself fitting naturally into the role of mentor. You’ve been asked to precept rising RNs and help onboard new-hire nurses who join your medical facility because you have that certain ability to connect with your coworkers. You are more than an RN and you want to be recognized for your talents.
While patient care is always at the center of what you do, quality patient care can’t happen without excellent organization and follow-through. In addition to caring for your patients in a hands-on manner, you must also manage their medications, consult with physicians, chart information and carry out assorted administrative duties as part of your job. Many of your duties are already more than an RN expects, but you rise to the challenge with each and every shift.
If you see yourself moving onward and upward in your nursing career you may want to seek out the position of Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). While you can’t go from RN to CNO without a few stops along the way, you can set your sights on the position of CNO and make it a very attainable career goal. When you’re ready to be more than an RN to your organization and take your career to new heights begin your path to CNO.
What Is a CNO?
The position of CNO is one of the highest management positions in nursing. Found most often in larger medical facilities and hospitals the CNO is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the nurses who staff the organization. The daily operations of the nursing department fall, ultimately, under the umbrella of CNO.
The CNO is the spokesperson for the nursing staff. More than an RN, a CNO works to align the nursing staff with the medical facility’s mission and to promote and keep the values and vision of the organization in line with all duties of the nursing staff. In other words, the CNO organizes, coordinates, and meets with the nursing staff on a regular basis in order to ensure the ultimate in patient care as well as peripheral duties assigned to the nurses.
CNO’s are executives within the organization. The title is above that of nurse manager and more than an RN. The CNO reports to either the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or executive management. Although relatively new, the position of CNO is valued and necessary, having risen out of the need for a stronger presence and representation of nurses within large healthcare organizations.
Responsibilities of the CNO
As a CNO your responsibilities are focused on coordinating and organizing your nursing staff in order to provide the finest care for the patients in your medical facility. You will advise senior management on best patient care practices, ensure clinical standards are being met, and work to train and retain your nursing talent. You will also be involved in budget management, incorporating new patient services, developing and enforcing policies and procedures, conducting performance improvement sessions and representing the nursing staff at board meeting. Additional responsibilities include:
- Partnering with Physicians to ensure workflow is seamless
- Ensuring nursing standards are upheld
- Ensuring compliance with regulations and accreditations
- Working with senior management and medical staff to develop and implement beneficial strategies
- Being an advocate for nurses
- Creating an environment of collaboration across departments
How to Bring Value As CNO
Obviously the best way to bring value to your organization is thorough your management skills. Nurse leaders are so much more than an RN and a great CNO is worth their weight in gold. You set the standard and others follow your professional lead. The nursing staff becomes more efficient and patient care is nothing less than excellent. Your nursing staff is treated fairly by the organization due to your representation and nurses are valued by all members of the team.
Do You Have What it Takes to Be More Than an RN?
Before setting your sights on the position of CNO you need to take a personal inventory and assess whether or not you have what it takes. Can you lead and motivate your fellow staff members? How are your problem-solving skills? Analytical skills? Are you flexible? Can you communicate well through written word? Get your point across orally? Are you comfortable with your knowledge of current medical technology?
Once you’ve assessed your ability to take on a C-level role, you will need to take your next step. Seek out a management position if you aren’t already a nurse manager. Additionally you will need to pursue a degree more than an RN. A BSN is required in most cases to rise to management. To become a CNO you will need your masters of science in nursing.
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of what it means to truly be more than an RN you may decide to pursue the position of CNO. Set your goal and do what you need to do to achieve it. Talk to your nurse manager and even those in administrative positions within your healthcare facility. Take steps to further your education and obtain your MSN. Your medical organization already sees your potential and recognizes that you are more than an RN. Go for your goal and become a CNO.