Nurse Manager: What They Do, Skills and Job Requirements

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Two nurses discuss patient records in a medical office setting.

Nurse managers are coordinators. Together with the medical staff, they determine the best way to care for patients admitted to their care. If you’re interested in a nursing career as well as management or administration, then the role of nurse manager may be for you.

In this article, we explain what nurse managers do, the common skills that nurse managers possess and the requirements needed to become one.

What does a nurse manager do?

A nurse manager, also known as a clinical coordinator, 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

Related: How To Build a Career in Nursing Management

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

Related: What Are the 5 Different Levels of Nursing?

Nurse manager skills

A nurse manager should have the following skills

Emotional intelligence

Nurse managers should be able to listen to others and evaluate their gestures, expressions and other nonverbal cues 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 their duties. They should have deadlines for their workload, including patient interactions and administrative duties.

Some nurse managers create and maintain other nurses' schedules as well, 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.

Read more: Important Nurse Leadership Skills and How to Develop Them

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.

1. 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). 

2. 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.

3. Certifications

Nurse managers need a registered nurse license. Each state board has different requirements for applying for an 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 an 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.

Related: 9 Key Nursing Leadership Principles To Follow

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.

Related: What Is Nursing Leadership? Definition and Strategies

Average salary of nurse managers

Most nurse managers are full-time employees, though some might work part time or on a contractual basis. 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 the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $85,866 per year

  • Some salaries range from $25,000 to $187,000 per year.

Related careers

  • Nurse

  • Charge nurse

  • Home health aide

  • Director of nursing

Related: Nursing Interview: Give an Example of a Positive Change You’ve Created

Registered nurse Alexa discusses an interview question regarding creating positive change, provides an example answer, and explains why employers ask this question.


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