As nurses, we all can be leaders. This is true no matter what our level of educational preparation. 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, respect from others, and ability to motivate others. Possessing the title of 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.
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. One of the great advantages of nursing is the number of options that we have to practice. The responsibility for the workings of an organization, supervision of other staff, budgeting, etc. are the career goals for some nurses.
Concepts of effective management and administrative skills are the focus of entire college courses. Space here is limited; however, we can focus on some of these concepts. Nursing Administration is offered as an option for specialization in some MSN programs. Certification exams in this area are 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. An MSN program in Nursing Administration can contain an average of thirty to thirty-five graduate credit hours.
Not all nurse managers are MSN prepared. In some instances, the BSN level nurse is in this important role. BSN educational programs often include a leadership course at the end of the program which provides 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, and decisions about resources, staffing and, in general, how staff nurses can best do their job, should be made by other nurses. A good manager/nurse administrator will be familiar with the workings of the unit in the facility by making himself/herself visible to the staff, asking questions, and possessing good communication with staff nurses. This helps foster good decisions by management/administration and respect between that level and other employees.
Nursing 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 patient care as much as those nurses at the bedside.
What is some advice for those thinking of entering a management position? Please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences.