What Does it Take to Get into Nursing Management?
Nurses are renowned for being incredibly talented when it comes to time management, people skills and dealing with pressure. However, for some, these assets are honed to such an extent during their career as a registered nurse that they might consider progressing to a role in nursing management.
Essentials of Nursing Management
The first consideration when it comes to nursing management is what it entails. Managerial nurses must not only be able to play a leading role in making vital decisions in patient care, but are also expected to carry out defined duties to support the wider nursing team. Some of these roles include:
- Staff management
- Staff supervision and coaching
- Case management
- Treatment planning
- Conflict resolution
- Patient relations
- Discharge planning
- Developing educational plans
- Records management
Working in nursing management is a varied and diverse role, where no two days are the same. You will be responsible for leading a team of nurses and healthcare practitioners, advising them in patient care, as well as supporting their own needs on a daily basis. Nurse managers are also major proponents of holistic care for patients, particularly long-term patients or those with chronic conditions. Besides this, nurses in management roles are responsible for a range of administrative duties, from managing patient records to recruiting new members of staff.
As Duquesne University notes, nurse managers are change agents within the healthcare setting, who work tirelessly to ensure patient wellness and safety. They explain that management nurses also implement regulatory guidelines for patient safety and ensure staff are educated on care standards and can implement them as necessary.
What does it take to be a nurse manager?
So what does it take to be a nurse manager? This will vary to some extent from job to job, however, there are a set of core skills and qualities nurse management officials should be able to demonstrate in order to secure a role. These comprise of;
- Leadership skills – being adept at coordinating teams and directing junior staff members efficiently and in an approachable manner. They must also be able to strike a balance between working with the nursing staff and the healthcare facility administrators.
- Strong communication skills – Managers must be able to communicate clearly with staff, administrators and patients alike, regardless of their background or circumstances.
- Resource co-ordination – nurse managers need to be adept at coordinating resources to meet goals, whether it be personnel or high-demand equipment.
- Advocacy – Nurse leaders are often required to advocate for staff to ensure functional practice environment. In other cases, they will advocate for patient safety and decision-making, requiring an engaged and proactive demeanour.
- Participation – Regardless of all their other responsibilities, nurse managers must be able to balance administration with patient care, using superior clinical skills to ensure patient wellbeing.
- Mentoring – Successful nurse leaders are able to guide, educate, encourage, empower and mentor their staff, encouraging best practice and compassionate nursing in all areas.
- Maturity – Finally, a nursing management leader must be a mature individual, able to assess situations without laying blame to work effectively through conflicts.
What nursing management jobs are available?
There are a wide variety of nursing management jobs available in healthcare settings, from GP surgeries to city hospitals.
Charge nurses are also known as ‘Ward Sisters’, and work on hospital wards to assess patients and directly plan, implement and evaluate their care. They are also responsible for supervising nursing staff in a line management role, as well as managing budgets and resources.
Those applying for a charge nurse position should be a registered nurse and hold (or be working towards) a management qualification, as well as holding leadership or clinical educator qualifications. Charge nurses can expect a salary of around £30,000.
Matrons are responsible for supervising the nurses in their hospital ward, ensuring patients receive the best care at all times. They maintain their working environment, improving cleanliness to prevent infections. They are also active practitioners, facilitating treatments and supervising junior nurses. Matrons can also work outside the hospital setting – working in communities with young, elderly or less-mobile patients.
Matrons must be registered nurses with around three to five years experience as a staff nurse on wards, and can expect salaries of over £30,000.
Nurse managers perform a proactive role in hospitals, overseeing all nurses including charge nurses. They are involved in recruitment and team management, and also collaborate with doctors to maintain standards in patient care and manage finances. This role involves a diverse range of challenges every day, requiring flexibility and motivation.
Registered nurses can apply to become nurse managers after gaining years of professional clinical experience – for salaries of of £25,000 to £35,000.
Service directors work in larger healthcare organisations and take responsibility for a specific service within their facility, whether it be a surgery, accident and emergency department or paediatrics. They manage the nurses working in this sector, and must be effective administrators, with a large amount of responsibility. They work in a range of environments and must be able to respond to each.
Successful candidates will have several years of clinical experience as a registered nurse and can expect salaries rising above £65,000.
Director of Nursing
The Director of Nursing is responsible for the entire hospital institution and carries out extensive administrative roles. They must be able to communicate across every level of the healthcare environment, working with nurses and doctors, plus monitoring budgets and implementing management strategies,
Directors must be registered nurses who have demonstrated a track record of professional success. This job can command salaries of over £60,000 to £75,000.
Developments in nursing management
Every year, nursing management roles evolve to meet the demands of the fast-paced healthcare sector. Increasingly, eHealth and technology are becoming the main elements of nurse management. The RCN defines eHealth (or digital health) as a practice aimed at promoting, empowering and facilitating health and wellbeing, and the improvement of professional practice, through information management and technology.
Therefore, nursing management has a growing emphasis on the need for nurses to source, implement, record, manage and transmit information effectively to support healthcare and make decisions about patient care. A few of the elements of eHealth that nurse managers use include:
- Electronic patient records
- Electronic communication with patients and professionals
- Telehealth/telecare (e.g. remote monitoring, video consultations, including service re-design, equipment management, etc)
- Information management
- Information governance (including confidentiality, system security and data protection)
- Personal health records
Increasingly, a wealth of mobile technology is making this administrative aspect of nursing management easier, freeing up the time nurse managers spend doing paperwork and allowing them to directly support patients and nursing staff. As nursing management official Joyce MS Sensmeier explains,
“It’s obvious that mobile health is rapidly carving out its own innovative space in the healthcare landscape.”
This means that those best suited to modern nursing management are candidates who are flexible, proactive and eager to make the most of the latest technological developments in patient care.
As Carol Huston, director of California State University’s nursing programme, says, nurse managers must now be ready to respond to technological changes, whether using tools like email, text messaging, apps and video conferencing, to communicate effectively with other medical professionals, or staying abreast of the newest clinical research through monitoring nursing blogs and scientific journals.
If you’re an ambitious nurse heading towards a career in nursing management, download our app to take a look at our latest vacancies, or to brush up on your knowledge using the latest nursing resources, take a look round the Nursco lounge.