Nurse Manager Overview

  • What You Will Do: A nurse manager directs, supervises, and leads nursing staff of a healthcare facility.
  • Where Will You Work: Nurse managers typically work in the hospital setting, but other possible venues include ambulatory care centers, and long-term care facilities.
  • Employment Projections: Nursing is expected to be one of the fastest-growing professions, with growth projected at 16% – 23%. Similarly, the need for nurse managers continues to increase.
  • How Much Will I Earn: The average annual salary for professional nurses is $68,450; factors such as level of degree, specialty certification, geographical location and level of experience will affect salary. The average annual salary for nurse managers ranges from $98,350 – 111,680.
  • Requirements to Become One: Become a registered nurse; complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), then obtain licensure as a professional registered nurse by passing the NCLEX-RN examination.

Steps to Become a Nurse Manager

  • Earn Your RN: You must earn an RN degree from an accredited bachelor’s degree (BSN) program.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam: After completed an accredited program, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure to practice nursing.
  • Gain nursing experience: You must have a minimum of 2 – 5 years full-time professional experience providing direct patient care. This is variable, according to specific employer requirements.
  • Seek opportunities for leadership. Take advantage of opportunities to move into a leadership role, such as charge nurse, assistant nurse manager, or unit head nurse.
  • Obtain Nurse Manager Certification: The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Nurse Executive – Board Certified (NE-BC) credential. Similarly, the American Organization of Nurse Executives offers the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential, as well as the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential, which requires a master’s degree in nursing (MSN).

What is a Nurse Manager?

A nurse manager is an RN who is responsible for supervising, directing and leading the nursing staff of any healthcare facility. Responsibilities include overseeing nursing practice and assuring quality of care among nursing staff, creating an environment that is supportive of professional nursing practice. They are also involved in financial/budget issues and personnel concerns such as recruitment, hiring, retention, performance evaluation, and, when needed, managing separation or termination. In this leadership role, nurse managers function to ensure clear communication between staff and management. They must promote organizational goals and objectives as well as working to promote professional nursing practice. It is necessary to be cognizant regarding current technologies, regulatory and legal requirements, and current research evidence. The overall atmosphere is set by management; nurse managers act in an advocacy role for nursing staff, and for patients and their families. In addition to oversight of nursing staff, nurse managers must facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, interacting with other health care professionals and ancillary staff, so must have the ability to manage diverse personnel within complex organizations.

How Do I Become a Nurse Manager?

The first step toward becoming a nurse manager is to become a Registered Nurse (RN), earning a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree from an accredited nursing program. After graduation, you must obtain RN licensure by taking the NCLEX-RN examination in your state.

The next step is to seek employment as a professional nurse providing direct patient care, optimally in an acute care setting. The length of experience required for advancement varies, based on specific employer requirements. The typical range is 2 – 5 years.

There are two sources offering certification credentials. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Nurse Executive – Board Certified (NE-BC) credential.

Eligibility requires:

  • Current, active professional nursing licensure
  • Hold a BSN or higher nursing degree.
  • Experience requirement includes;
    • Mid-level or higher nurse manager
    • Faculty position teaching nursing administration at the graduate level
    • Nurse management or executive consultant
    • Must have at least 24 months experience within the past 5 years.
  • Complete a minimum of 30 hours related continuing education within the past 3 years, or a master’s degree in nursing administration.

Certification is valid for 5 years.

The American Organization of Nurse Executives offers the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential, as well as the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential.

Eligibility for the CNML certificate;

  • Current, active professional nursing license
  • A BSN degree or higher degree plus 2080 hours experience in a nurse management role

OR;

  • A non-nursing baccalaureate degree plus 3120 hours years of experience in a nurse management role
  • A diploma or associate degree in nursing plus 5200 hours of experience in a nurse management role.

Eligibility for the CENP credential;

OR

  • A BSN degree plus four years experience in a nurse executive role.

Where Do Nurse Managers Typically Work?

Nurse managers primarily find employment in acute care hospital settings, as well as a variety of other venues. These include outpatient settings such as ambulatory care settings or clinics, in public health facilities, and long-term nursing care venues such as skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

How Much Do Nurse Managers Earn?

Nursing, in general, is identified as one of the fastest growing professions in the US in terms of salary, with a projected growth of 16% or higher, much higher than the national average. Nursing specialty certification can increase earnings significantly. Salaries are generally higher in urban areas, however, the cost of living is typically higher, as well. In addition, bachelor’s prepared nurses tend to earn higher salaries than nurses with associate degrees. The median annual salary for nurses is 68,450, but the range of potential salary can vary, depending on degrees and certifications held, type of employment, and geographical location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the top five states for general nursing salaries are (range 88,770 – 102,700);

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon

The average annual salary for nurse managers ranges from $98,350 – 111,680. Metropolitan areas tend to have higher salary rates than rural areas. The states with the highest salary levels for nurse managers are;

  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • California
  • Alaska

Nurse Manager Education

Additional specialty education for nurse managers at the undergraduate degree level largely consists of continuing education activities, such as professional conferences, in-service presentations or through professional organizations. For example, the American Organization of Nurse Executives offers continuing education via sponsored events, an annual conference, and online webinars.

An added option is seeking an advanced practice role as a nurse practitioner. This involves earning an advanced degree, either at the master’s degree or doctoral degree level. The top five universities offering a graduate degree in nursing administration include;

What is a Typical Nursing Administration Curriculum?

At the undergraduate degree level, the overall focus for continuing education concerns;

  • Effective leadership
    • Key attributes
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Organizational growth
    • Best practices
  • Business management
    • Basic finance,
    • Operational and capital budgets
  • Human resources management
    • Recruiting
    • Performance management
    • Retention
    • Managing separation
  • Quality management in healthcare organizations
    • Management processes and tools
    • Management of a nursing unit
    • Foundational thinking skills
  • Strategic management in healthcare organizations
    • Strategic planning
    • Operational plan

Curriculum content for Nursing Administration graduate programs is focused on;

  • Operations management
  • Healthcare consulting
  • Project management
  • Leadership development
  • Financial management
  • Strategic planning
  • Quality improvement
  • Patient safety processes

The Role of the Nurse Manager in the Nursing Shortage

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that employment for nurses will increase at a rate of 16% by 2024. There is a national shortage of nurses in general related to the Baby Boomer population entering retirement, and the increased health needs of the growing aging population. It is projected that the South and West will be hardest hit by the nursing shortage. The 12 states expected to have the most acute shortages are; Florida, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and New Mexico.

Just as there is an increasing demand for nurses, in general, the need and demand for nurse managers is projected to increase 17% by 2024. It is expected that the need for nurse managers will increase more quickly in outpatient settings, such as ambulatory care, compared to acute care hospital settings. Another factor related to this increased demand is the aging population requiring greater numbers of long-term nursing care facilities.

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Nurse Manager Resources

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