This interview with Carina Stanton was originally posted in, The Periop Life Blog published by AORN on January 20, 2019

2018 Goals - Handwriting In Black Ink On A Sticky Note With A Ch

2018 goals – handwriting in black ink on a sticky note with a Christmas tree New Year resolutions concept.


In my career coaching sessions with perioperative nurses, there are three tough Human Resource questions that many nurses ask me that go beyond asking for a raise:

  1. How do I ask for a sign-on bonus?
  2. How do I negotiate my salary?
  3. How do I ask to go from full-time to part-time?

These are important questions that can help direct a nurse’s compensation and impact their career trajectory. Here are several tips to prepare.

When Asking for Money

Whether you’re asking for a bump in salary, a good starting salary, or extra money with a sign-on bonus or merit increase, preparation before this conversation is key.

Do your homework by understanding what the market will pay for a nurse with your skills, experience, education, and certifications. HINT: Members can use AORN’s Salary Calculator to check market value for perioperative nurses in your geographic region. Set up a free job alert on the AORN Career Center and receive notices when similar jobs are posted in your specialty and area.

Next, make sure to sell yourself and what you bring to the job because you have to speak in terms of value to make the case for financial compensation. Nurses, by nature, are not always good at selling themselves, but you have to. 

Try making a list of your regular tasks and achievements and connect each to the value these activities represent for the organization. Bring hard numbers whenever possible. For example, “I led an improvement initiative for safe patient handling that reduced our staff musculoskeletal injuries on the job by 20% in one year.”

When Asking for a Job Change

Job changes can be beneficial for a department, IF the changes provide value and don’t create a loss, such as losing a full-time position. There could also be costs associated with your job change if it leaves a gap in staffing that will require overtime coverage and pay.

Before you propose any job change, think through the staffing implications, and craft a plan that will mitigate any losses. For example, if you’re a busy mom or ready to ease into retirement and want to cut back to part-time, see if a colleague might want to do the same and propose a job share.

Come with Facts, Not Emotions

Discussions around money, asking for a promotion, and the structure of your job are difficult questions—it’s how you approach the negotiation and your rationale that can make the difference.

Don’t let your emotions overpower your logic. Stay calm and revert to your facts and proposal to keep your focus.

Ready to try for that new promotion? Dr. Phyllis will be holding one-on-one career coaching sessions during the AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo. Plus, check out other career development resources at the Membership Hub and meet with healthcare recruiters in the Expo Hall.

Can’t make it to the annual conference? All AORN members get a free, 90-minute coaching session with Dr. Phyllis.


CLICK HERE to go to Phyllis’ website

Connect with Phyllis on LinkedIn

Get Your Daily Dose of Resilience by Following Phyllis on Instagram 

CLICK HERE to go to Phyllis’ YouTube Channel 

Share this article!