1. Cohen, Shelley RN, CEN, BS

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QI've recently been offered an opportunity to job share the role of nurse manager for a busy medical surgical unit. What do you consider the pros and cons of job sharing a management position?

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As with any leadership opportunity, there will always be some positive and negative aspects. The key is to see which way the seesaw balances when you compare them. Job sharing success is directly related to clearly defined roles in writing and two people who are extremely motivated to make it work. Some challenges include maintaining current and constant communication with your comanager, dealing with questions about who's really "the boss," staff misperceptions of which individual manager is responsible for what aspects of the role, and the need for quick decisions when only one of the partners is available.


When two people share one role, administrators may mistakenly assume that a much heavier workload can be accomplished, resulting in unrealistic goals. Before agreeing to a job share, get a clear answer on what happens if your job partner leaves his or her position.


On the flip side, several positive characteristics of job sharing are: increased free time, easier coverage of scheduled and unscheduled absences, two perspectives for problem solving and goal setting, and a greater job focus due to increased personal time. That said, make sure your decision to assume a job share is for the right reason-not because you want less responsibility as a manager. The responsibilities are still there; you're just not physically present as often to assume them. Consider networking with other managers already in these situations to learn more about the pros and cons.


QI just graduated with a master's degree in nursing administration and am currently working as a staff nurse. I'd ultimately like to be a chief nurse officer (CNO). What positions should I apply for to prepare for that role?


Transitioning from staff nurse to mid- and upper-level management in healthcare can be a varied journey for each individual. As you consider advancement opportunities, make realistic expectations of yourself, that is, don't accept jobs for which you aren't prepared. No one would expect you to transition from staff nurse to CNO just because you have your master's degree, but they would expect you to have some solid experience that demonstrates success as a leader.


Some nurses initiate their career advancement by attaining the role of a charge nurse or team leader. Others step directly from staff nurse to nurse manager. Other roles that can help develop your leadership knowledge base and provide growth options are risk manager, safety coordinator, or Magnet project coordinator.


Write down any past leadership experience you may already have, such as a team leader or committee chair, and see how those roles fit in the organizational chart of your current place of employment. I always recommend to nurses who complete their advance degrees to maintain a relationship with a mentor from their program. He or she can be a valuable resource in guiding you on your career path.


Also, consider participating in local or nurse specialty organization leadership opportunities while still in your staff nurse role. As you review job descriptions of various roles ascending this career ladder, try to identify organizations that have ongoing leadership development programs. Realize that it's not just about what job title you're seeking, but also who you'll report to, which can greatly impact your success as a leader.