As a nurse manager, you’ll wear many hats: mentor, administrator, policy-maker, decision-maker. Nurses in your charge will look to you for answers and guidance, which you’ll provide while upholding the regulations of the healthcare facility in which you work. You’ll advocate for patients who, after all, are your primary responsibility.
As such, nurse managers are an important part of a medical team in organizing and supervising the work of nursing staff. The role, while sometimes hard, is one that can be personally and financially rewarding. Knowing the basics of this important role—and the education necessary for being a nurse manager—is critical to having a successful career.
Nurse managers do many things on a daily basis. They organize, direct, and supervise the work of nursing staff, which may include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and other administrative personnel, such as medical clerks.
Nurse Manager Responsibilities
A nurse manager has many responsibilities, mainly with hospital administrative and patient policy, staff and equipment maintenance. Some duties of a nurse manager are:
- Writing and updating procedures and policies:
You’ll enforce not only hospital regulations, but uphold state policies and other external policies.
Nurse managers enforce healthcare facility policies through choosing, training, counseling, and disciplining employees, and monitoring and appraising employee work.
You’ll assign nursing and staff and follow up on work results.
- Maintaining a safe work environment:
Nurse managers maintain a safe environment for both patients and employees through infection control, site maintenance, maintaining inventories and organization.
- Acting as part of a greater hospital team:
Nurse managers act as liaisons between different groups such as administration, nursing staff, and patients.
- Maintaining patient records:
You’ll help keep patient records organized and confidential—and ensure that your staff does as well.
- Maintaining budgets:
Nurse managers often prepare budgets and expenses for equipment upkeep, staffing and for emergency measures.
Beyond educational skills, nurse managers as team leaders should have specific personal qualities to be effective and to create a safe environment for patients.
Some traits and skills that are helpful for success include the following:
- Be organized: Successful nurse managers are organized. This is not only part of the job description, but a trait that keeps staff on task. Disorganization can lead to administrator stress and, thus, staff stress and miscommunication with a lower quality of patient care that can jeopardize patients’ lives.
- Have good communication skills: Nurse managers must be able to talk to groups with varying levels of medical knowledge, such as nursing staff, higher administration, doctors and non-medical people. A nurse manager acts as a liaison between these different groups. Nurse managers must know how to adjust their emotional roles when communicating to different groups such as administration, staff or patients. They must, in roles of communication, be able to listen to the concerns of other team members and patients with empathy and understanding. Making staff feel as if they are part of a team creates an effective and safe work environment for patients.
- Be objective and fair: Efficient nurse managers, while being empathetic to their staff, do not let personal feelings cloud their judgment in hiring, training, retaining or dismissing nursing staff. Nurse managers must not let emotions override safety procedures and policies.
- Have technical aptitude: Nurse managers should be able to learn how to use electronic records, charting and databases. Keeping up with emerging healthcare technologies such as computer records software and databases is a critical part of modern nurse management.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, nurse manager will enjoy a 20 percent job growth rate through 2026 and adding over 69,800 jobs for health services managers and over 437,000 jobs for registered nurses during the same time period. When you consider the current national average for all jobs growth is seven percent, you’ll see this is a much faster than average rate of growth.
If you’re looking to relocate or learn where the highest employment level for nurse managers is, look no further. The BLS says the top five states with highest employment include the following:
The BLS says nurse manager salaries depend upon where you work, your level of education and years of experience in the field.
The median annual salary for medical and health services managers, including nurse managers, is $96,540 per year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning over $172,240.
Nurse managers earn top salaries nationally in these states:
Education and Requirements
Nurse managers have very specific education requirements. A nurse manager must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and be certified as a registered nurse or as a nurse practitioner. Nurse managers should have three to five years’ managerial experience, so you might consider taking some business courses along the way. Some clinics or hospitals require an additional diploma or a master’s degree in nursing or management. Nurse managers that work in specialty areas, such as geriatrics or as case managers at insurance companies, should have coursework and clinical experience in their chosen areas of expertise.
Here are some of the courses you’ll take in your nurse manager program:
- Nursing practice and theory
- Nurse leadership
- Human resources management
Nurse managers, like many professionals, must keep their education current. Attending educational workshops or college classes, reading professional publications, creating professional networks, and joining professional organizations are essential for nurse managers. Some professional organizations for nurse managers include the American Nurses Association, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, and the American Case Management Association, Inc.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center certifies nurse administrators with a Nurse Executive or Nurse Executive, Advanced designation once you pass their rigorous exam and meet the requirements necessary. As a nurse manager or administrator you will need to renew your credential every five years.
To qualify to sit for the exam you’ll need to meet these criteria:
Hold an active RN license
Have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher
If you don’t have a master’s degree in nursing, you’ll need to have completed
of continuing education units in nurse administration within the past three years
Get Started, No Matter Where You are in Your Nurse Education
If you’re currently an RN with an associate’s degree in nursing, get started on your BSN—or RN-to-BSN today. If you have your BSN, we have master’s-level programs to become a nurse manager or administrator. We can help you find the right accredited course to meet your personal circumstances, no matter if you have family needs to consider, need to keep working while you go to school, or if you’re interested in flexible online degree programs.