How to Become a Nurse Manager – and How an RN-BSN Gets You There

Written by Madison School of Healthcare On Thursday, 23 March 2017. Posted in Nursing

How to Become a Nurse Manager – and How an RN-BSN Gets You There

You love nursing, but sometimes you find yourself looking for new day-to-day responsibilities. Perhaps you’re hoping to help others in a new way or are curious about earning potential in a management role. Becoming a nurse manager may be a great fit for you, as the role builds on your existing nursing expertise while offering new daily and career opportunities.

Nurse managers are ambitious, insightful leaders who want to expand their role in a healthcare setting. At all levels, this position is tasked with addressing emerging healthcare trends with innovative strategies, while simultaneously overseeing nurses on the frontlines and contributing to their organization’s goals. Successful nurse managers exhibit the exceptional managerial skills that come with an advanced role. You likely have your nursing license already, so earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing through an RN-BSN program provides an opportunity to build these skills, translate them to the workplace, and position yourself as a prime candidate. Read on for insights on how to become a nurse manager and how an RN-BSN can help you thrive.

Position overview

As an essential member of any healthcare environment, nurse managers supervise a nursing unit in a clinic or hospital. The life of a nurse manager is fast-paced while working more “behind the scenes” in a managerial role. Their responsibilities are centered around management, strategy, and implementation instead of providing direct patient care.

Duties include making personnel decisions, recruiting and retaining nurses, collaborating with doctors, becoming a budgeting process expert and coordinating work schedules or internal meetings. Straddling the line between staff and middle-upper management, this position ensures support between what nurses need to perform effectively and larger organizational goals. It is important to remember that while most nurse managers rarely serve patients directly, their impact remains high by supporting the nurses and healthcare professionals that interact with patients daily.

Required education and experience

Here’s some good news: most nurse manager positions do not require a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN). Being promoted to nurse manager does require a registered nursing license, and a BSN has become an increasingly standard component for consideration. Nurse managers will typically have three or more years of nursing experience and have completed their bachelor’s degree, many through an RN-BSN.

You might be an experienced nurse wondering why this educational requirement is necessary to move into a nurse manager role. The curriculum in an RN-BSN program offers content on professional communication and collaboration, system leadership, personnel management and health finance to prepare you for the position. Nurse managers combine this knowledge with related managerial skills to deliver on their responsibilities. Since you’ll be working in a complex environment, what you learn in an RN-BSN program also helps you understand the value of evidence-based practice and the many hats you’ll wear as a nurse manager.

Unsure of how you can feasibly go back to school? Flexible and affordable online programs have become more readily available to prospects looking to enroll in an RN-BSN while balancing a full plate of work and personal commitments. Absorbing and applying all the new information an RN-BSN program has to offer is not only in your best interest, it’s in the best interest of your future nursing crew to have a well-equipped leader.

Industry snapshot and earning potential

More good news for prospective nurse managers: the healthcare industry is experiencing widespread growth due to several factors, including aging baby boomers that are increasing patient demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for medical and healthcare service managers (which includes nurse managers) is expected to grow 17% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations (7%).

In terms of earnings, the industry median for a nurse manager’s annual salary is around $83,000, according to, though this figure can vary from $60,000 and climb towards $115,000 based on your experience.

Think this is for you?

If you’re excited about taking the next step in your career while serving patients and your fellow nurses in an advanced role, becoming a nurse manager may be perfect for you. Nurse managers are in high demand and you could be on your way to an accelerated career track within the nursing/healthcare field. For more on what it takes to be a great nurse manager, check out these qualities:

  • Ability to lead, inspire, and motivate others
  • Excellent supervisory skills
  • Staff management dexterities
  • Consistent case/project management
  • Advanced critical thinking
  • High emotional intelligence
  • Becoming an asset with budget execution
  • Effective scheduling and planning
  • Ability to integrate patient care traits, i.e. empathy and compassion

    Interested in exploring other career paths? Read about five jobs that require a BSN.

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    About the Author

    Madison School of Healthcare

    Our community comes first – explore our student- and alumni-contributed content to get the inside look at online learning, healthcare careers, and beyond. We share real perspectives from healthcare students, professionals, and industry experts to keep you up to date on the healthcare space and set you up for success in your career.