The Key Responsibilities of a Nurse Manager in Healthcare Settings

The Key Responsibilities of a Nurse Manager in Healthcare Settings

Becoming a nurse manager is an excellent way to advance your career if you are an experienced RN. Nurse managers help their medical facilities manage resources to provide a high level of care to all. There are nurse manager roles based on the working floor of medical facilities. These nurse managers spend a lot of time managing and training other nurses and ensuring that departments are operating well on a daily basis.

Other nurse managers play a more administrative role. It means more time in the office and less time interacting with patients and nurses working within a department. In many cases, administrative positions help plan out the budgets and operations of the entire medical facility.

Here are some requirements to consider if you are thinking about pursuing a career as a nurse manager now or in the future.

Be open to new innovations

Nursing managers should be open to new innovations in healthcare and work towards implementing them in their facility when possible. There are always new innovations being worked on; however, there are some that may be better suited to a specific medical facility than others. It is up to nurse leaders to keep on top of current trends and identify what technology is realistic and useful for their practice.

The ultimate goal is to look for innovations that can save time and reduce healthcare costs. For example, there are medical robots that can be used to deliver equipment and medications throughout medical facilities, which frees up staff to take on other tasks. During a time when it is challenging to keep a fully staffed facility, anything that can be done to lend a hand is welcome.

Be excellent communicators

Leaders and managers need to be able to communicate with people from many different backgrounds and skill levels. Living in a highly digital world full of technology means that people communicate more via the written word than many realize. Of course, that doesn’t mean we always do a good job. It is essential for nursing managers to have fantastic written communication skills. In addition, public speaking skills are a major bonus on your resume. While you may only talk to a few people at once most of the time, there will be other times when speaking to a larger crowd or teaching a class may be required.

Have strong emotional intelligence

Nurse managers need to be good at looking at others and making quick assessments of their emotional state. It means knowing body language, tone of voice, and overall demeanor. Managers who can read emotions well can respond to situations more quickly and have a much easier time connecting with others and making them comfortable. Creating an atmosphere of trust starts with forming that initial connection where you empathize and try to do what you can to listen well and answer any questions or concerns a patient or their family might have.

Nurse Manager

Be good time managers and work delegators

Time management is crucial when managing any medical facility or department. There are so many tasks to do on a daily basis, let alone when circumstances lead to a major busy period. Nurse managers must be excellent at organizing and prioritizing their time and tasks. Knowing how to best delegate tasks to staff members is a skill that can take some time to master, especially when starting a new position or during a time of crisis or high volume.

Finding ways to reduce wasted time throughout the day by better delegating is something that a nurse manager will achieve as they gain experience at their job and get to know how things work within their department and facility.

Be organized

There is no room for disorganization in the medical world. It is important to stay organized, no matter what type of system you use. Creating a daily or weekly list of top priorities that need to be completed and allowing a buffer of time in case something unexpected comes up makes a lot of sense. Good time management is definitely part of staying organized.

Nurse managers need to make sure that they have fast access to information, no matter what else is going on. While managers are administrators, they also have higher-level administrators that they must answer to when called upon. Being able to access information, find solutions, and answer questions promptly will show others that you take your job seriously and want to provide the highest level of care possible to your patients. Paying attention and staying organized also shows that you value and respect the time of those you are working with.

Nurse manager duties

Nurse managers may be required to do any or all of the following tasks: Specific duties will depend on the job or medical facility the nurse is working at. There may be times when demand for some duties at a facility is higher than at other times, and a nurse manager must step in to help their team.

Help recruit and train nurses or other healthcare workers

It is challenging for healthcare facilities to find enough qualified healthcare workers to staff their facilities fully. Many are being forced to expand their recruitment efforts to a national level. Medical staff who are willing to relocate have a lot of choices when they start filling out applications. Nurse managers need to be good representatives of their medical facility and work hard to recruit the best talent to fill positions.

Finding ways to make employment more lucrative is highly advised. Many mid to large-size medical facilities are offering incentive packages such as sign-on bonuses and even help with relocation expenses. While this may seem like a lot of money, it actually helps save money and increases the quality of care at a medical facility experiencing staffing issues.

Nurse managers may even need to attend job fairs to help recruit potential workers and answer any questions potential employees have regarding the positions available and the working environment.

Oversee paperwork and medical records

Nurse managers need to be good at ensuring proper paperwork is completed and filed for tasks within their department. While they may not have to do all the paperwork, they do need to ensure that the employees they are in charge of managing are taking care of their paperwork.

Medical records are very important information that must be kept up-to-date and protected. Nurse managers need to ensure that medical records are accurately kept with good attention to detail.

Ensure the facility is operating smoothly on a daily basis

Things can come up unexpectedly. Nurse managers do what they can to make sure that daily tasks and routines are going well. When there is a problem, a nurse manager must be able to quickly assess the situation and start taking steps to correct it. It can mean delegating multiple tasks to others and also stepping in to take care of anything else that needs to be done.

Nurse managers may be in charge of a specific department on a daily basis, but that does not mean they will not need to step into other roles if a situation arises that could benefit from their expertise.

Work with patients and families during times of crisis

There are times when patients may need to stay in a hospital, or there is a health situation that is ongoing, and patients and family members have a lot of questions. Nurse managers offer support and help to find resources to help families experiencing distressing medical situations.

Manage budgets and make financial reports

A lot of accounting and financial savvy goes into running a medical facility. Nurse managers must have good financial accounting skills so they can wisely manage the budget they are in charge of and help design future budgets for their department or even the entire medical facility they are a part of. Being a manager puts you in an administrative role, meaning you may have a say in larger planning operations throughout the fiscal year.

How to become a nursing manager?

Becoming a nursing manager requires that you earn a degree that allows you to become a registered nurse or RN. Gaining at least two to three years of experience is fairly typical before pursuing an advanced degree for a higher-level nursing position. Many employers want at least five years of experience before a nurse can apply for a charge nurse position at a busy hospital. Remember that you can earn your advanced degree online while earning experience in your regular job as an RN.

Here are some extra tips for those who want to become nursing managers.

Take opportunities to gain management experience

If there is an opportunity to take charge of a project at work or help train another nurse, you should consider taking it if at all possible. Some nurse manager jobs require at least a year’s experience managing others.

That does not mean you must already have an advanced degree for your management experience to count. Helping train student nurses during their clinicals is an example of a great opportunity to get extra experience that can help you land a lucrative position after you graduate and complete any certification requirements for your new nursing manager role.

Earn an advanced degree while working your regular job

There are nursing management degrees that you can complete online while working as an RN. It allows you to gain valuable experience while earning your degree. The University of Indianapolis offers an online master of healthcare administration degree as well as a master of science in nursing. While there are some required clinical hours at the end of your degree program, the rest can be done entirely online.

The MHA, or master of healthcare administration degree is ideal for those who want to play a major role in hospital and other healthcare administration. The focus is business management, whereas a master of science in nursing focuses more on working within a busy department and interacting with patients and their families. A charge nurse position is a great example of a job suited to someone with an MSN degree.

Gain extra certifications when possible

While certifications are not always necessary for every nursing management job, they can help you gain the position you most want. There are two major certifications that nursing managers often try to achieve. The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) offers the following certifications for qualified nurses.

Certified nurse manager and leader (CNML)

To obtain this certification, a nurse must hold an RN license in good standing, have at least an associate’s degree, show significant management experience, and pass the exam.

Certified in executive nursing practice (CENP)

This certification is best for nurses who intend to pursue administrative roles. In this case, a nurse must have an active RN license, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, significant experience in a nursing executive role, and pass the test.


Nursing managers are a valuable part of a healthcare team. With so many nurses retiring, it is important that the next generation of nursing leaders start training for their roles.

Thanks to the availability of online degree programs, it is much easier for busy nurses to find the time to get the training they need to lead the way in the world of health care. Becoming a nurse leader is a great choice for any experienced nurse who wants to take their career to the next level and gain better compensation for their advanced skills.

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