Economically this is not the best time for asking for raises, and yet there are things you can do to fatten your paycheck. Fashion designer Coco Chanel said that to be indispensable it is necessary to be different. How can you be different in a positive way?
Let’s start with some basics. Administrators like employees who appear professional, and there is a tendency, when employees become comfortable with a job, to start to dress casually. You are judged every day by administrators, patients, and their families, so continue to polish your nursing shoes and come to work in a fresh uniform every day. Jeans and running shoes are for your days off.
Safety is a big concern in any hospital, and getting too familiar with a procedure can cause people to become slack. Do not let this happen to you. Be sure to do everything just as you were taught in school, and make it your goal never to have to fill out an incident report.
The shortage of nursing personnel means that the staff where you work is undoubtedly stretched to the limit, so being able to get your work done early and offer help to your colleagues would be a big plus. This doesn’t mean rushing to the point of being unsafe, but think about what you are doing and how to make things happen quickly and safely.
Employers always like employees who do more than they are strictly required to do. If you get to work a few minutes early and see someone struggling to get done by the end of his or her shift, lend a hand.
If your place of employment offers inservice training, take advantage of it. Even if you are not paid for the time, you will gain valuable knowledge and show your interest in constant improvement. Even if you already have the number of hours needed for recertification, you will still learn something and improve your skills. Look at other opportunities for continuing education too. Find ways of improving your technique to make yourself a more valuable employee.
There is always something to be done in a hospital, and if you look around you can find it. Team leaders do not always want to have to tell their assistants what to do, so if you see something untidy, clean it up. If a gurney has been left in the hallway with the brakes unlocked, go by and unlock them. If you happen to walk by a patient who appears cold, get a blanket.
When it comes time for your annual review, think of all the ways you have been extra valuable to the hospital in the past year. What continuing education did you study? How did you apply it to your work? When did you discover a reddened area on a patient’s skin and report it to your supervisor before it had time to become an ulcer? And how were you at keeping clean sheets on patients’ beds and notifying the nurse when an accident caused a dressing to become wet? Write down a list of ways you have gone the extra mile and made yourself valuable to the hospital. Did you volunteer to work a weekend when someone was out sick? That is a good way to show your willingness to help. What you should not do is to mention that your spouse is in the ICU and your children need new shoes. That has a lot to do with the reason you need a raise, but your supervisor does not make decisions based upon your need. Fulfilling your hospital’s needs is the way to improve your paycheck.
If the facility where you work is unable to provide raises, still do your best so that your supervisor can recommend you to another facility. Not all places of employment have the same pay scale, and proving yourself in one facility can make you a successful applicant at a larger or more affluent hospital. Go to it!
Expert Author: Kathryn Goldin, R.N., M.D., M.S.P.H.