nurse leadershipA nursing career is extremely rewarding but not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is deciding which path to take in this ever-expanding profession. Becoming a nurse manager is one of these options.

But transitioning from clinician to nurse manager can be quite daunting. After all, it is role where we are contributing through others instead of independently.

Today’s nurse manager has one of the most difficult jobs in healthcare. Managers need to know how to manage budgets, deliver presentations, and should have sharp communication skills coupled with negotiating abilities. Hence, it’s imperative that they have access to all of the tools required to become successful.

The typical day for a nurse manager could involve going over paperwork and regulatory requirements, interviewing nursing staff, addressing labor issues, reviewing the department's finances, and managing a group of nurses. Because such a wide range of skills are needed, having the proper training is a necessity. Most of the time, a nurse manager will have a Master of Science in Nursing. It is also possible to bridge from a RN degree to a MSN degree. Many nurses now take their MSN courses online, as it allows them to work in a hospital and complete their coursework in their spare time.

The days of the starched, polished whites, opaque stockings and stiff hats are long gone from the nurse leader figure. Business suits, advanced nursing degrees, laptops, and spreadsheets are the stuff modern nurse managers are made of.

I turned to my own team to ask what they value the most in nurse leadership.

Cathie, RN, said that nurse managers are made from something even more palatable:

“The characteristics of an exceptional manager resemble that of mayonnaise in a tuna, chicken, or egg salad sandwich. Too little mayonnaise leaves the substance unable to hold together. Just the right amount of mayonnaise gets little overall recognition, applause or notice; the focus is on the overall product or outcome. Good, clear and frequent communication, creation of a supportive environment for team growth and accessibility are often statements made about clear strong management. The exceptional manager knows well their own strengths, skills and short-comings, and knows the talents, skills and background of their staff.”

I would have to agree with Cathie. An exceptional manager is seasoned with just the right amounts of strength, determination, flexibility, and managerial courage. These characteristics combined are the key ingredients of great leadership.

What do you feel makes a good nurse manager? Are you interested in becoming one?