Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Nurse Manager?

By Lanette Anderson on Tue, Jan 07, 2014

nurse managerWe all can be nurse leaders. This is true no matter what our level of educational preparation. After all, leadership is a quality that is present in the context of relationships. It is not formally granted by any authority. It is achieved by more informal means through an individual’s interpersonal skills, earning respect from others, and ability to motivate others. 

Possessing the title of nurse manager is quite different. It is typically a formal job title conferred by others in facility administration. Unfortunately, not all managers have good leadership skills. When this occurs, conflict and difficulty in the workplace can result.

Why Management?

Nursing management is sometimes a role that is thrust upon a nurse because nobody else wants the job. More often than in the past, however, nurses are choosing to pursue management and nursing administration positions as a career option. Responsibilities include understanding the workings of an organization, supervision of other staff, and budgeting.

That’s why entire college courses focus on concepts of effective management and administrative skills. Nursing Administration is offered as an option for specialization in some MSN programs. Certification exams in this area are also provided by national nursing organizations.

Required courses in a program for an MSN in Nursing Administration typically include instruction in financial management, conflict management, health policy, staffing issues, communicating effectively, and cultivating a leadership relationship with other staff. With these topics, the entire MSN program can contain an average of thirty to thirty-five graduate credit hours.

Is a Postgraduate Degree Necessary?

However, not all good nurse managers are MSN prepared. In some instances, the BSN-level nurse is in this important role. There is no reason to fear, however, as most BSN educational programs include a leadership course at the end of the program. These provide some of the information listed above in an abbreviated version.

Most of us chose nursing as a profession so that we could interact with and provide care to our patients. Some feel that anything other than patient care isn’t true nursing.

The fact is that being a nurse can mean many things. Those in management or administration are providing an important service to those who need our assistance. It is often said that nurses are the strength of a facility. Decisions about resources, staffing and how staff nurses can best do their job in general, should be made by other nurses.

A good nurse manager or administrator will be familiar with the workings of the unit in the facility. He or she is visible to the staff, asking questions, and communicates well with staff nurses. This helps foster good decisions by the healthcare facility’s management or administration. It creates respect between that level and other employees.

As you can see, management isn’t for everyone, just as working in ICU, ER, Med-Surg, etc. isn’t for everyone. It is a specialty like the others and requires special skills and knowledge for the nurse to be effective. Just as with other careers in nursing, it can be both challenging and rewarding.  These may be different than what we experience with patient care, but can potentially impact it as much as the work of nurses at the bedside.

Do you have some advice for those thinking of entering a nurse management position? Please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences.



7 COMMENTS

Anonymous 10 months ago
Paula Lewis-Group Senior Nurse and Responsible Individual at Fieldbay Ltd via New Nurse Manager group on Linkedin writes:

"Hi - a very topical article. Effective role modelling by senior nurses can be a really effective way to coach junior managers, however this can only be effective if the senior nurses are prepared to be visible and 'walk the walk' with their mentees. I believe that being able to provide effective feedback 'in situ' and as part of a reflective model can assist managers to develop. Often management courses will theorise about the different types of managers and there could be a misguided view that those with management degrees are well equipped for the role. On a personal note, I feel to become a good leader and manager, then managers have to be prepared to put the effort in and work alongside their staff and see their world, whilst retaining a sense of detachment to allow them to develop their staff. "

Anonymous 10 months ago
Joanne Christen-Clinical Lead Nurse at Dogsthorpe Medical Centre
via New Managers Group on Linkedin writes:
"Really enjoyed the article. I agree that there can be a vast difference between the two roles if indeed they are separated. I have worked with both types; the manager who is organised and a fountain of all knowledge and the one who couldn't manage to get out of a paper bag as well as the leader who forges ahead into new territory pushing the boundaries to improve patient care and the one you would only follow if you were a lemming.

It is really difficult trying to balance the role especially with negative influences rolling marbles under your feet - but then that is sometimes part of the job"

Anonymous 10 months ago
Elizabeth Scala, Inner Circle Contributor @ NurseTogether.com
via New Managers Group on Linkedin writes:
"Interesting article. I've heard phrases like you can be a manager but you're not necessarily a leader. And vice versa. I've also heard of institutions shifting their lingo so that all management are called leaders.

I believe that leaders create the leadership feel through example. Behaviors and actions are role-modeled and stronger than words. You can speak at someone and manage but can you lead someone through example?

Great share and thank you for bringing this article to us."

InscolAcademy India 11 months ago
Hi Lanette Anderson
Nice post. Nursing management is performing leadership functions of governance and decision-making within organizations employing nurses. It includes planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.

Anonymous 11 months ago
Hi Lanette Anderson.
Nice post. Nursing management is performing leadership functions of governance and decision-making within organizations employing nurses. It includes planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.

Anonymous 11 months ago
Hi Lanette Anderson
Nice post. Nursing management is performing leadership functions of governance and decision-making within organizations employing nurses. It includes planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.

Anonymous 10 months ago
Nursing management is truly the art and science of nursing . The boots on the ground manager balances employee and patient satisfaction in their hands moment to moment day to day . The manger must be a masterful communicator and listener. In my opinion a masters prepared certified executive is the person you want managing your unit. In hospital political circles you will find it levels the field.