Nurse managers wear many hats on the job. This position oversees the operations of a nursing unit in a clinic or hospital and must fill a variety of needs to meet both nursing care and organizational goals. The overarching mission of a nurse manager is to provide exceptional patient care while aligning their unit's goals with the hospital or clinic’s goals. But just how do they do that?
Below are Five Roles Nurse Managers Play at Work
1. Nurse Supervisor
Leader of the pack! As the team leader, a nurse manager supervises and supports a nursing unit in its daily activities. The hectic nature of a hospital or clinic calls for strong leadership to ensure nurses have the necessary structure to aid their patients as best they can. Nurse managers review and evaluate staff performance to keep operations running as efficiently and effectively as possible.
They set assignments for each nurse, weighing a nurse’s strengths and areas of growth, experience and type of case, in addition to making their weekly or monthly shift schedules. While nurses provide direct patient care on the “frontlines” of the job, nurse managers help patients by leading the nurses who care for them.
Leading and supervising a group of nurses also requires nurse managers to collaborate with other departments to promote the best possible patient care. In the liaison role, nurse managers will work with doctors and upper management to evaluate, implement and cultivate programs and services. By meeting with doctors, nurse managers can effectively relay treatment decisions to the nurses providing care to the patients. Nurse managers may be tasked with advocating on behalf of their department in conversations with upper management, and act as the overall communication link between nurses and physicians and other organizational leaders.
What’s a nursing unit without amazing people? Nurse managers may oversee hiring and retaining nurses, a crucial aspect of developing a core nursing unit. This can be a tricky job on its own, since a bad hire is worse than no hire. Recruiting based on a specialty need or clearly-defined skills can help nurse managers find the best candidates and bring on the ideal team member. Being a skilled recruiter helps a nurse manager foster a strong team that’s made up of the best nurses available, and finding qualified nurses who are a great fit within an existing nursing group promotes unity and excellent patient care.
4. Finance Administrator
Here’s where a natural (or gradual) love of numbers can be extremely helpful. This finance role translates to budget supervision and big-picture financial planning. Nurse managers create a realistic annual budget and provide weekly and/or monthly budget reports to supervisors. Specific duties include reviewing and managing the department’s supplies and equipment, revenues and personnel (staff salaries). This role requires a keen attention to detail and skill with numbers to navigate the financial journey of a department or organization.
5. Mentor and Coach
Mentorship is key to personal and professional development. In this coaching role, nurse managers will provide constructive feedback for younger, less experienced nurses and veteran nurses alike. Scheduling one-on-one conversations allows nurse managers to form a relationship with their nursing teammates and support nurses in their career pursuits. Since nurses are interacting with patients every day, listening and giving advice to nurses becomes a vital role in providing the highest patient outcomes. The mentor or coach role helps nurse managers promote excellent patient care while propelling nurses to great heights in their own nursing careers.
How do nurses become nurse managers? It takes a combination of experience (typically more than three years in the field) and some education – nurse managers need their bachelor’s degree, sometimes earned through an RN-BSN.
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