How to Make Yourself Indispensable to the Head Nurse

No matter your sense of place and belonging in this world, we each have a survivalist’s drive to retain an invaluable standing. This rings true in both our personal and professional lives. Regardless of profession, we all answer to someone, and we’re propelled knowing that we’re in good standing with our superiors.

If you’ve chosen, or are thinking of choosing a career in Nursing, you know that while the patient is ultimately our judge, we all still answer to the Head Nurse. Becoming indispensable to our Head Nurse benefits our long term objectives (paving upward mobility in our career paths), and creates an immediate impact in day-to-day responsibilities, shift assignments, and more.

Our hospitals and medical practices are a continual whirlwind, as millions of patients across the country are seen each year. According to the American Hospital Association, nearly 35 million patients are admitted to over 16,000 hospitals across the U.S. annually. This means the CNA is moving as fast as the RN, is moving as fast as the Doctor, is moving as fast as the patient. If we want to progress for the right reasons, we need to make sure not to stand out for the wrong ones. As CNA’s, we all want to shine. This is best accomplished by holding ourselves accountable to the following:

  • Punctuality & Accountability
  • Professionalism
  • Respect for our colleagues
  • Remaining humble

Punctuality & Accountability

With the pace at which medical practices move, a CNA arriving late for work may send shockwaves throughout the assemblage of patients, and your colleagues. If a patient requires urgent attention – it’s “all hands on deck”. If you’re unavailable, the patient’s care is compromised.

Along the same vein, if you’re late for your shift, you delay the patient appointment scheduling. If you delay the first patient, each subsequent patients suffers a rippling delay.

Do not sacrifice your standing within the practice by arriving late and trading shifts.

Emulate your superiors. Is your Head Nurse arriving 15 minutes late? Those showing up late will garner a reputation. When you’re late, you’ll cause another CNA to stay over until you arrive. This may not only irritate your head nurse, but the other CNAs you work with. When you don’t get your tasks done on time, it can cause others to pick up your slack.


There’s nothing worse than when our fellow CNA’s complain about job duties and assignments. We all complete identical and rotating assignments. When you work as a CNA, you need to understand the head nurse assigns you tasks for a reason. Complaining about what you get isn’t going to score you any brownie points.

Remain flexible and ready to swap assignments when necessary. Take on new residents and take the assignment you’re given without complaining. This will help you gain a reputation as a team player and someone willing to do what needs to be done.

Respecting our colleagues

It’s not uncommon for cliques and gossip to start up at work. However, you don’t need to tolerate it or participate in it. Those that grow within this profession tend not to participate in inter-office gossip.

Head nurses will notice this and they will be willing to trust you.

Remain Humble

Nobody likes a show off or someone that thinks they are better than their co-workers. You may be a skillful and talented CNA, but don’t flaunt it. Instead, remain humble and you will attract more positive attention from your head nurse.

There are several great ways to make yourself indispensable. These tips will go a very long way if you want to impress your head nurse.