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Nurse Manager Career

How to Become a Nurse Manager

Responsible for managing nurses in a healthcare setting, nurse managers work to foster a culture that improves patient quality of life. In addition to their own medical experience, nurse managers maintain an authoritative role over other nurses on the floor of a hospital or clinical center.

As a nurse manager, you will make decisions that positively influence how hospitals and clinical organizations perform daily. From nurse scheduling to immediate patient care, you’ll work to provide patients with the best possible care. The role of a nurse manager offers an ideal blend of managerial and patient care responsibilities, where you’ll manage nursing resources without removing yourself completely from patient care floors.

If you’re looking to leverage nursing experience into a leadership position, for the opportunity to further influence the success of your hospital or clinical center, the position of a nurse manager is ideal for you.

A medical doctor helps his colleague practice the method of injecting into an arm. They are working together in the hospital ward.

What is a Nurse Manager?

A nurse manager is an individual in a medical setting with the decision-making power to influence daily operations. They can advocate for improved patient care by optimizing certain processes that a hospital or healthcare organization fulfills every day.

As a specialized career option, nurse managers are required to complete several stages of schooling, registration, and experience. Nursing managers first operate as nurses in a medical setting before assuming roles that add administrative responsibilities.

What Does a Nurse Manager Do?

Nurse managers fulfill a wide range of responsibilities. At the same time that nurse managers provide patient care, they also maintain responsibilities that involve the oversight of healthcare processes. Fulfilling both administrative and personal care roles, nurse managers can influence how and why hospitals and healthcare organizations use certain processes.

The exact responsibilities of a nurse manager can include:

  • Creating department schedules that identify when nurses and other staff members will work.
  • Supervising nursing staff members as they serve patients, address patient conflicts, communicate with family members, and perform all other necessary aspects of their positions.
  • Providing patient care through all of the processes required by comprehensive bedside nursing.
  • Solving for any issues in current clinic operations.
  • Collaborating with staff in other departments to ensure that patients receive the best possible care, from intake through release.
  • Recruiting and training new nurses.
  • Improving the efficiency of all healthcare organization processes.
  • Organizing facility records for quick recall and future reference.

These and other responsibilities define most of the daily tasks that a nurse manager needs to satisfy.

As one of the top available nursing leadership roles, nurse managers work to improve the lives of all patients in their facilities. The above responsibilities allow them to appropriately advocate for the highest possible level of patient care.

What Education Does a Nurse Manager Need?

As an aspiring nurse manager, you will first need to complete several educational steps. First, you’ll need to obtain a nursing license and a bachelor’s degree in nursing. You can pursue your bachelor’s degree and RN license at the same time through a BSN program, or if you are already a registered nurse with a nursing diploma or ADN, there are RN to BSN programs that can help you gain the credentials you need.

The next step to pursuing a career as a nurse manager is to obtain a Master of Science Nursing Leadership and Management degree. This program builds on your understanding of the nursing field by teaching you additional management and leadership skills. You will learn how to help your organization succeed in creating successful employees. You will also learn how to positively influence the future of healthcare, by familiarizing yourself with evolving healthcare standards. If you’re a current RN without a BSN, you may be able to earn both your BSN and MSN in a concurrent program, helping you be ready for this career move more quickly.

Best Degrees for a Nurse Manager

Nursing (Prelicensure) – B.S.

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you...

A one-of-a-kind nursing program that prepares you to be an RN and a baccalaureate-prepared nurse:

  • Locations: offered in FL, IN, TX, and UT only.
  • Tuition and fees: $6,575 per 6-month term.

WGU offers the prelicensure program in areas where we have partnerships with healthcare employers to provide practice sites and clinical coaches to help teach you and inspire you on your path to becoming a nurse.

If you don't live in one of our prelicensure states or don't qualify to apply, consider getting our Bachelor's Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also working directly with patients who need help.

Nursing – Leadership and Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,385 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
    Chief Nursing Officer
    Quality Director
    Clinical Nurse Leader
    Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality.

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This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking...

An online BSN degree program for registered...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 66% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and Fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Transfers: On average, students transfer 81 credits.

With over 35,000 BSN alumni, this is one of WGU's most popular online degree programs. View our RN to BSN degree guide.

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's Degree in Health Services Coordination instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

Nursing – Leadership and Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for greater responsibility:

  • Time: 82% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,385 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
    Chief Nursing Officer
    Quality Director
    Clinical Nurse Leader
    Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

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What Skills Does a Nurse Manager Need?

Nurse managers depend on specific skills to help them best serve patients. These skills allow nurse managers to communicate with team members and patients, develop nursing schedules, and implement processes that improve facility operations.

The specific skills a nurse manager needs can include:

  • Teamwork: The ability to work together with other nurses, healthcare staff members, and department heads
  • Problem-solving: The ability to creatively solve problems that nurses and healthcare departments face in terms of operations and patient care
  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to communicate effectively with patients and the nurses servicing them
  • Scheduling: The ability to balance all nurse schedules, to create facility workflows that balance responsibilities
  • Business management: The ability to implement strategies that improve operations at a healthcare facility
  • Financial management: The ability to adeptly manage a healthcare organization’s finances, prioritizing investments that improve patient care
  • Employee management: The ability to successfully manage all healthcare nursing staff members, listening to their concerns and facilitating any new employee onboarding

These and other responsibilities define the major roles that a nurse manager fulfills on a day-to-day basis.

How Much Does a Nurse Manager Make?

$87,216

The exact income of a nurse manager can depend on a variety of factors, including their employer, employer location, healthcare facility funding, years of experience, and accreditations. On average, the salary of a nurse manager is $87,216, with a range of roughly $66,000 to $118,000 earned per year.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

32%

Nurse managers are expected to enjoy a favorable job outlook in the next decade. From 2019 to 2029, employment of all medical and health services managers — including nurse managers — is expected to rise 32%. This growth rate should add an estimated 133,200 health service manager positions, well above the average forecasted expansion for all occupations across the board.

Where Do Nurse Managers Work?

Varies

Nurse managers are often found in the same healthcare settings as regular nurses. This position is focused on helping lead teams of nurses in healthcare settings so patients get the best care, and nurses are able to be led to success. Some of the places where nurse managers work include hospitals, clinics, private practices, nursing homes, surgical centers, and emergency rooms.

 

Interested in Becoming a Nurse Manager?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

View degree programs