Nurse Types / Nurse Manager
Are you an experienced nurse looking to advance your career? Becoming a nurse manager can be an exciting change of pace when climbing the nursing ladder.
Nurse managers have a lot of responsibility, but the work can be very rewarding. Some of the tasks you can expect in this nursing role include creating schedules for employees and giving annual performance reviews.
If you have great natural leadership abilities, you may find this nursing role a good fit for your skills and personality.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What is a nurse manager?
- What does a nurse manager do?
- Where do nurse managers work?
- What are specific types of nurse managers?
- How do you become nurse manager in 3 steps?
- What are additional requirements of nurse managers?
- What are the salary and career outlooks for nurse managers?
What is a nurse manager?
The name says a lot about the role. A nurse manager oversees the nursing staff in a healthcare setting. They typically hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or higher. Most healthcare employers require a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to work as a nurse manager.
Some of the most important skills a nurse manager needs to have are:
- Human and fiscal resource management
- Leadership skills
- Organizational management
In this nursing role, you can advocate for improved patient care and outcomes.
Qualities of a successful nurse manager
Nurse managers must be organized and have strong leadership skills. Your management style can mean the difference between nursing staff that works well together and nurse burnout that leads to high turnover rates.
If you want to be a good leader and a good manager, here are some other traits you must possess:
- Clinical expertise
- Problem-solving abilities
- Strong communication skills
What do nurse managers do?
Nurse managers have many responsibilities. If you work in this nursing role, it’s important to understand that the buck stops with you. You assume ultimate responsibility for patient complaints or issues with delivery of care.
Some of the daily responsibilities you can expect as a nurse manager include:
- Collaborating with medical practitioners about patient care
- Developing plans for patients and their caregivers
- Handling disciplinary action for members of your nursing team
- Improving patient outcomes
- Interviewing and hiring new nursing staff
- Managing the budget for your nursing unit
- Overseeing the daily operations of your unit
- Scheduling nurses for their shifts
- Serving as a liaison between the administration and nursing staff
- Training new nursing staff and other healthcare team members
A day in the life of a nurse manager
A typical day in the life of a nurse manager can include many tasks. You may review reports and hold meetings with other healthcare practitioners to review patient progress and treatment plans. You can expect to take part in meetings with other department managers.
Other tasks you may carry out during the day can include:
- Budgetary reviews
- Check-ins with nursing staff to discuss or resolve issues
- Interviewing nursing candidates for open positions
- Nursing staff training and onboarding
Common conditions treated by nurse managers
Nurse managers do not perform bedside care for patients. However, you must be an expert clinician and have a firm grasp of best practices for the nursing profession to work in this nursing career.
Where do nurse managers work?
Nurse managers can work in any healthcare setting where nurses are needed. The possibilities are endless, which appeals to many nursing professionals that choose this nursing career.
Some of the places where you can use your nurse management skills include:
- Home healthcare agencies
- Medical and surgical centers
- Nursing homes
- Outpatient treatment facilities
- Physicians’ offices
- Urgent care centers
- Veterans Administration clinics, hospitals, and outpatient treatment centers
What are closely related fields?
Nurse managers have the kinds of expertise and skills that can transfer to other fields. Some other occupations you can consider include:
- Administrative services and facilities management
- Human resources managers
- Insurance underwriters
- Medical records and health information specialists
- Social and community service managers
Each of these closely related fields requires strong leadership abilities.
How do you become a nurse manager in 3 steps?
Be prepared to invest some time and money into your career if you plan to become a nurse manager. While some healthcare facilities require only a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to work in this role, most expect candidates to hold a more advanced Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
Follow these three steps to get started on your journey to a nursing career you love.
Step 1 – Become a Registered Nurse
Before you can step into the role of a nurse manager, you first must become a registered nurse (RN). You can do this in one of three ways. You can earn your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or an Accelerated Bachelor of Science of Nursing (ABSN) if you have a bachelor’s degree in another field.
Since most healthcare employers prefer nurse managers with MSN degrees, it makes the most sense to go for your BSN as soon as possible. You must complete it before you can apply to an MSN program.
Earn an MSN degree
Earning a BSN degree has many benefits. You’ll learn critical thinking and leadership skills beyond what is traditionally taught in an ADN nursing program. Ultimately, you need one before you can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
If you’re already working as an RN but don’t have a BSN, you can work while continuing your education through an RN-to-BSN program. Already have your BSN? You can fast track your MSN degree while continuing to work.The BSN-MSN program is a great way to advance your career without spending loads of time in school
Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Passing the NCLEX-RN exam is the final step to becoming a licensed RN. All RN nursing candidates must take the NCLEX exam to prove they are prepared for the responsibilities of their nursing role. You can take the NCLEX-RN exam more than once if you fail to pass the first time.
Step 2 – Accumulate experience
After becoming a licensed RN, you’ll want to work in a healthcare environment that helps you build leadership skills and gain extensive clinical knowledge. Working in a fast-paced environment as an emergency room nurse or trauma center nurse can help you develop critical thinking and communication skills.
Helpful skills and experience
Nurse managers must be prepared to handle many tasks at once. Juggling budgets, scheduling nursing staff, and handling patient complaints are all par for the course in this nursing role.
Other helpful skills include:
- Business management know-how that helps you use management strategies that improve operations
- Interpersonal communication for handling discussions with nurses, healthcare practitioners on the care team, and patients
- Problem-solving abilities for tackling issues about general operations and patient care
Changing your specialty to a nurse manager
If you’re already working as an RN under a different nursing specialty, it’s possible to change to a nurse manager with the right level of education and experience.
Let’s say you’re currently working as an ER nurse, and you want to move away from direct patient care. Changing your specialty to become an ER nurse manager is a natural progression. If you haven’t yet earned an MSN, you’d need to complete that advanced degree before making the switch.
Expert advice from nurses like you
Step 3 – Obtain certifications
You have several options for specialty certifications as a nurse manager. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the following credentialing exams:
- Nurse Executive. You must have an active RN license, a BSN degree or higher, and at least 2 years of experience as a mid-level administrator or faculty teaching position. Without an MSN degree, you also must have 30 hours of CEUs in nursing administration.
- Nurse Executive (Advanced). You must have a BSN degree or higher and two years of experience as a nurse manager. Alternatively, you can have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and 3 years of experience as a nurse manager or an associate degree in nursing and 5 years of experience.
What are additional requirements for nurse managers?
To maintain your credentials, you must meet certain continuing education requirements. The number of CEUs you need depends on your state of practice. Some states, like Arizona and Mississippi, don’t require CEUs.
All nurse managers, regardless of state, must maintain an RN license. You’ll want to check with your state board of nursing to ensure you’re following RN license renewal procedures as well.
What are the salary and career outlooks for nurse managers?
Nurse managers, like other nursing professionals, are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32% growth rate between now and 2030. Nurse managers make an median average salary of $89,694 annually.
Some of the highest-paying states for nurse managers include:
- Hawaii – $97,449
- Massachusetts – $96,154
- Nevada – $96,094
- Rhode Island – $94,359
- Oregon – $92,929
Discover your true salary range
Receive a free salary estimate in minutes. Then get matched with nursing jobs to pay it.
Roughly 70% of nurse managers in the U.S. reported they were satisfied with their jobs. Of those, 68% said they would recommend the nursing career to others.
How can nurse managers advance their careers?
If you’re looking for career advancement opportunities, nurse managers have many options. You could become a clinical nurse manager, focusing on patient outcomes and the overall fiscal health of the healthcare facility.
Other alternatives include:
- Chief nursing officer (CNO). A senior role within large healthcare organizations, you would be responsible for developing, ensuring, and standardizing evidence-based care into daily practice.
- Nurse attorney. You could combine your nursing degree with a law school degree to go in a completely different direction.
- Patient care director. You can manage the clinical and administrative aspects of a healthcare facility through this role.
If you’re not sure which path is right for you, seek out advice from experienced nursing professionals on our community forums. It’s a great place to ask questions about all things nursing.
Tired of applying for nursing jobs?
With Incredible Health, hospitals apply to YOU.
– Develop plans for patients and their caregivers
– Handle disciplinary action for any members of your nursing team
– Interview and hire new nursing staff
– Manage the budget for your nursing unit
– Oversee the daily operations of your unit
– Train new nursing staff and other healthcare team members
Nurse managers make an average salary of $89,694 annually.
At least a BSN, but most employers require an MSN.
- A Day in the Life of a Nurse Manager. usa.edu. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Average Nursing Manager Salary. payscale.com. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Medical and Health Services Managers. bls.gov. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC®). nursingworld.org. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification (NEA-BC®). nursingworld.org. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- Nurse manager job satisfaction and intent to leave. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- The cost of nurse turnover by the numbers. beckershospitalreview.com. Accessed July 18, 2022.
- What is the Average Nurse Manager Salary by State? ziprecruiter.com. Accessed July 18, 2022.