Nurse managers work in a fast-paced environment to ensure that the right people are hired for roles in their hospitals. They also help to supervise the nursing team and provide guidance, support and leadership to other nurses in the facility. Some nurse managers take on patient-facing roles, while others choose to work independently and start their own practice or health consultancy business.
In any area of the job, nurse managers tend to manage a range of different tasks over the course of the average day. They have to make decisions quickly, sometimes without any backup from senior colleagues. As they have acquired proficiency in both nursing and business management, nurse managers often liaise with the executive team, nursing staff and physicians as part of their role.
Using their understanding of accounts, they will often be charged with overseeing the budget of a unit or department, especially as it relates to the nursing team. They will collaborate with colleagues to arrange meetings between hospital employees, or medical workers and patients. Nurse managers are also able to help patients and their families find additional services or information should they need it. Finally, using their administration skills, nurse managers are capable of supervising areas such as proper medical record-keeping, disciplinary processes and coordinating interdisciplinary teams.
Fulfilling multiple roles in a dynamic environment
Whether they work in hospitals, care centers or larger clinics, nurse managers bridge the gap between staff and general managers. They fulfill an extremely important role in the US healthcare system and are in high demand. Registered nurses who are considering a career move and want to take on more responsibility at work, can now train for a nurse manager qualification remotely, as academic providers such as the University of Indianapolis have established quality courses for online students. These are designed to fit around the work and social commitments of busy professionals and tend to be more affordable compared to traditional universities.
The University of Indianapolis’ Masters in Nursing Administration is delivered over 28 months as a part-time program. The coursework is completed online and students only have to take part in one clinical placement. It prepares working nurses for making crucial decisions in leadership roles across various healthcare settings and optimizing care outcomes for patients. After graduation, students can spend a few years in a standard nurse manager role, and then choose to pursue one of many connected career paths.
Moving into a more senior role in the US healthcare system
Nurse managers who decide to remain in the healthcare system can take on more responsibility in a number of more senior positions. If they want to have a hands-on role in patient care, a clinical nurse manager role could be ideal. This involves working with physicians and the wider healthcare team to design treatment plans and monitor how patients are being cared for in their wards.
Alternatively, if they want to pursue a job that has less to do with practical care and is more focused on management, a nurse administrator role could be a good choice. These specialists produce schedules of work for the hospital employees, hold meetings to deliver performance reviews, and work with the executive team to make or amend policies. Although they are not involved in clinical care, they aim to make sure that each patient has an exceptional experience in the facility.
Another senior role for nurse managers is chief nursing officer. Working in larger US healthcare organizations, they ensure that evidence-based care is integrated into the way the facility treats patients. They are expected to formulate and develop a vision that the organization will aim for and implement policies that support the realization of that vision.
The chief executive officer of a healthcare organization has an extremely responsible role, but the experience and training of nurse managers make them perfect for the job. Moreover, as they have clinical experience under their belt, nurse managers can quickly earn the respect of the nursing team. They are used to thinking of the services a hospital provides, how these can be developed, and what outcomes they should be aiming to achieve. Even without a business school qualification, nurse managers can use their skills and training to become very effective CEOs.
Select a specialism to pursue
There are many clinical nursing specialties that a nurse manager can choose to pursue. Their advanced knowledge and specific skills mean they are in high demand in numerous healthcare settings. Patient-facing roles include becoming a clinical nurse specialist, who focuses on a certain area of care. They offer patient care, but also consultation services and education to cover any gaps in the delivery of a person’s care.
Alternatively, with additional certification, a nurse manager can take on a genetics nurse position. In this specialty, practitioners offer advanced care to people who are considered to be at risk for, or are actively being affected by, conditions with a genetic element. In this role, there will be times when a nurse manager has patient-facing tasks to complete, but it is especially science-based and tends to involve a lot of research.
Based in the community, nurse managers who take on a public health nurse role are active in promoting healthier lifestyles, educating patients on wellness, and providing educational services. They also aim to improve the health of the population through screening programs, and immunization schemes.
Nurse managers who enjoy finding new and innovative ways of treating patients may choose a role in critical care nursing. Here they deliver specialized treatments to people who are critically ill in an intensive care unit, or another similar setting. In collaboration with physicians and consultants, they identify systems of care that could improve the outcomes for each individual patient.
Training future nurses in education and research roles
Nurse managers can opt for a non-clinical career by choosing to train future healthcare professionals or undertake research that will inform the future delivery of care. As educators, they might work in the medical faculty of a university to train new nurses in patient safety, treatment procedures and healthcare policies. Part of their work will involve delivering lessons in a classroom and part will take place in clinical units. Some will combine a teaching role with their work as a nurse manager at a hospital, or a research position.
By carrying out clinical research, nurses can establish whether a new approach to treating a condition will provide better outcomes than the established approach. Research is also crucial when it comes to preventing diseases, diagnosing conditions and treating ailments. Nurse managers who opt for this career will ultimately play a key part in designing new treatment pathways and enriching patient care.
On an average day, nurse researchers will focus on one clinical trial. They can support patients who are taking part in the trial, prepare the documents that are needed to fulfill the trial’s legal commitments, and manage data collection tasks. Their work can be of use when new drugs are being developed and new regimens are being tested. They frequently manage a team of colleagues, as well as design and submit study proposals to the appropriate regulatory board, and coordinate the progress of the current research project.
Moving into a healthcare administration or leadership position
In senior administrative and leadership positions, nurse managers will have multiple responsibilities. As well as directing nursing, creating policies and goals, and purchasing new equipment, they supervise training programs for the team. This is usually in the form of professional development such as gaining additional certifications, getting IT training or attending conferences. Moreover, using their network and experience, nurse managers are ideally placed to offer younger colleagues career tips when they are uncertain of how to move forward.
Administrators need the ability to budget well and order medical supplies appropriately. This can be a challenge, because over-ordering or under-ordering are both problematic, just in different ways. They will also maintain employee records, monitor the budgets of various departments and prepare reports for the leadership team.
Nurse managers who choose a leadership route will have usually worked for many years in clinical practice, so they can bring a wealth of lived experience to a role. Part of the responsibilities of a healthcare leader is to monitor compliance at their facility to ensure it remains on track with healthcare regulations. They monitor patient outcomes and satisfaction levels, set up schemes to improve both, and assess the performance of their ideas.
Nurse managers can choose a leadership role in patient services if they prefer to focus entirely on care. Patient service leaders will meet with the heads of each clinical department on a regular basis to discuss the progress of their initiatives and learn more about their impact on patient care.
Take on a role in consultancy
Working for an organization or as a freelance entrepreneur, nurse consultants advise US healthcare facilities on how they can improve their existing practices. They will spend time at the clinic or hospital observing how things work, evaluating the nursing and medical procedures, and assisting with various challenges. Along with observing, the consultant will look into any available data, analyze its key findings and use this to inform their suggestions. In some cases, they will assist with implementing changes and in others they will simply offer recommendations.
Organizations are keen to optimize their service because there are so many stakeholders in any one facility, from insurers to patients and staff. Each of them wants to see the health of the nation prioritized, costs reduced and patient satisfaction increased. Nurse consultants can take up positions as legal, operations or clinical consultants, depending on their preferred specialism. The work they carry out is similar to that of a business consultant except it is in healthcare. Consultants assist private physician practices, rehabilitation centers and clinics, as well as hospitals.
Their findings allow providers to expand and improve the services they offer, without neglecting their patients, healthcare policies, the budget or state regulations. Nurse consultants tend to excel in these roles because they have so much experience working within healthcare organizations and they understand how changes could impact the teams who will be delivering them.
Benefit from global experiences in healthcare
Global experiences can enrich the medical knowledge and ethical practice of a nurse manager, as well as be very personally rewarding. By taking up a position in a hospital or healthcare facility abroad, practitioners gain a wider perspective on health equity and how it can be achieved. They may also learn to collaborate with professionals from a range of other disciplines, sometimes in difficult circumstances. Nurse managers who choose to work in another country gain insight into a different culture that improves their cultural competency when they do return, which means they are better equipped to deal with the increasingly multicultural US society. Furthermore, by choosing to work abroad, they place themselves in situations where they have to collaborate with a wider range of people and, in doing so, they build up a valuable network of professionals. These people can be contacted when the nurse manager needs advice or is looking for a fresh perspective at some point in the future.
Varied and rewarding roles for experienced nurse managers
Nurse management is a specialist role in which people work as leaders and advisors for healthcare organizations. In each specialty, nurse managers use their advanced communication skills to ensure that the upper management team and the medical staff are coordinating their efforts, in line with the organization’s goals. They aim to help healthcare facilities make informed choices about patient care, processes, buying and hiring. This could be through their work in research, administration, leadership or education. These are ideal positions for nurses who have enjoyed taking on more responsibility on the ward and feel they would gain job satisfaction from a senior role