Careers

Learn About Being a Nurse Manager

What does a nurse manager do?

A nurse manager acts as a liaison between staff and upper management. They supervise nursing staff, ensuring they meet health regulations and facility policies. While some nurse managers may work with patients, they are primarily responsible for the oversight of the nursing department. Nurse managers ensure that the patients are getting the best medical care possible.

Duties of a nurse manager may include: 

  • Recruit, retain and evaluate nursing staff 
  • Provide training for nursing staff 
  • Designate specialty staff personnel 
  • Act as a liaison between staff and interdisciplinary teams
  • Assist families and patients during escalating situations 
  • Manage paperwork and health records 
  • Oversee day-to-day operations and budgets 
  • Manage and report finances 

Average salary

Most nurse managers are full-time employees, though some may work part time or in contract positions. A nurse manager’s salary may depend on the size, type and geographical location of their place of employment. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $85,056 per year
  • Some salaries range from $25,000 to $187,000 per year.

Nurse manager requirements

Nurse managers need to meet certain educational and licensure requirements to practice. They should also have a specialized set of skills to excel in their roles.

Education

A Bachelor of Science in nursing, with a minor in healthcare management or business, would be the best course of study for a nurse manager.

Many nurse managers continue their studies with a Master of Science in nursing, or even a Master of Business Administration with a health care administration concentration. There is also a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA). 

Training

A nurse manager needs to gain experience in a clinical setting. Many medical facilities promote from within by promoting interested nurses already on staff to be a nurse manager. RNs usually need at least five years of experience before applying to charge nurse positions.

Certifications

Nurse managers need a registered nurse license. Each state board has different requirements for applying for a RN license, but most require applicants to pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse. Applicants usually also need to submit proof of completing a registered nurse educational program. 

The American Organization of Nurse Executives offers two applicable certifications for nurse managers:

  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader: The CNML shows a RN’s ability to lead in a medical setting. To earn a CNML, applicants need an active RN license, at least an associate degree and experience in a nurse manager role. Applicants must also pass an exam. 

  • Certified in Executive Nursing Practice: Nurses who want to pursue an executive role can earn the CENP. To obtain a CENP, nurses need an active RN license, at least a bachelor’s degree and experience in an executive nursing role. Applicants must also pass an exam.

Skills

A nurse manager should have the following skills: 

Emotional intelligence

Nurse managers should be able to listen to others and evaluate their body language to offer the right responses. Emotional intelligence allows them to assess the actions of others and respond appropriately. 

Leadership

This skill involves the ability to motivate and manage nurses who work under them. Nurse managers should lead their nursing teams by motivating them and encouraging hard work. A successful nurse manager is an excellent leader. 

Time management

Nurse managers usually work in fast-paced environments that require them to use their time-management skills to complete all of their duties. They should have deadlines for their workload, including patient interactions and administrative duties. Some nurse managers create and maintain other nurses’ schedules, so time-management skills can assist them in planning shifts in a 24/7 facility.

Organization

This skill refers to a nurse manager’s ability to create and maintain systems for patient files and medical resources. They should be able to access information quickly in emergencies. Organization could include both physical and electronic systems.

Nurse manager work environment 

Typically, a nurse manager works in a hospital, clinic, long-term care center or health care facility. In hospitals, they typically oversee nursing staff on a specialized floor or a specific unit. 

Nursing managers can expect the following from their work environment:

  • Standing or walking for extended periods of time
  • Sitting at a desk while working on a computer
  • Using a phone, computer and pager for correspondence
  • Wearing protective clothing, such as gloves, masks, close-toed shoes or surgical caps
  • Working with patients, nurses and other medical professionals

How to become a nurse manager

You can follow these steps to become a nurse manager:

1. Earn a degree.

You should at least earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become a nurse manager. Many companies in your area may seek nurse managers with a master’s in nursing. It can be helpful to review nurse manager job descriptions to determine which degree would be best to earn to increase job opportunities available to you.

2. Apply for RN license.

Nurse managers start as RNs, so you’ll need to earn a registered nurse license. Research your state board’s requirements to ensure that you meet their standards for applying. Prepare to complete an exam as part of the application process. You’ll also need to renew your license based on your state board’s guidelines.

3. Gain experience.

Many health care facilities expect at least five years of practical experience as an RN when seeking nurse managers. You can gain experience at a clinic, hospital, home health company or other health care facilities.

4. Apply for nurse manager jobs.

Once you meet the minimum education requirements and gain some experience as an RN, you can apply for nurse manager jobs. Consider checking for openings at your current place of employment. If you apply for external nurse manager jobs, make sure your resume is up-to-date and you tailor your application materials for each open position.

Nurse manager job description example

A busy medical practice in Raleigh, NC, is seeking a nurse manager to lead the frontline nursing staff and deliver exceptional patient care. The nurse manager will be responsible for creating and managing an environment of care focused on the patients, defining and elevating standards for patient care, developing and managed work-based teams for shifts, training and hiring new staff; and providing leadership for everyone on the nursing team. 

The chosen candidate will report to the director of nursing and may need to assist in administrative and clinical supervision.

The ideal candidate will need to manage the quality assurance of the department, as well as an educator to achieve clinic and facility goals. 

Preferred experience

  • Health care: 5 years
  • EMR systems: 3 years 
  • LTC: 3 years 
  • Supervisory: 1 year

Responsibilities and duties

  • Ensure the continual delivery of exception nursing care 
  • Implement new nursing practices to improve the facility 
  • Recruit, hire, and train new nursing staff 
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory standards and professional development of nursing staff
  • Maintain a collaborative and healthy team environment 
  • Mentor associate nurse managers, clinical nurses, and charge nurses 
  • Manage shift schedules and coordinate time-off requests 
  • Manage shift budget and inventory levels

Skills required:

  • Master's of Science in nursing 
  • Up-to-date RN license in North Carolina 
  • A minimum of five years of hands-on nursing experience 
  • Excellent verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills 
  • Ability to work well under time constraints 
  • Strong leadership skills 
  • Ability to work collaboratively with multiple departments 
  • Ability to handle multiple needs simultaneously

Work experience may not be substituted for education requirement. The nurse manager will be responsible for a unit that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Salary range: $76,960 -$126,984 

Shift: Full time. The shift may change based on schedule needs.

Benefits: Competitive benefits package. Immediately eligible for welfare and health benefits. 401(k) savings plan with a dollar-for-dollar match up to 5%. Tuition reimbursement and CEUs funded. PTO accrual beginning on day one.

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