Is Becoming A Nurse Manager Right for You?
If you have been a Registered Nurse for a few years and feel as though it might be time to pursue the next step in your career, you might want to consider pursuing opportunities to become a Nurse Manager. If you like the feeling of being in charge and co-workers naturally seek out your advice or counsel, you probably already have some of the skills necessary to take on a leadership position.
There are some things to keep in mind before you jump into Nurse Management. One of the first things to realize is that once you are promoted to manager, you are essentially leaving your hands-on clinical care behind for a more advisory position. Your new responsibilities will revolve more around understanding financing and budgeting, patient safety and quality improvement projects, handling staff issues, and other situations that are faced by managers in all lines of work. So, let’s take a closer look to see if becoming a nurse manager is the right move for your career.
- Education Requirements. Contrary to what you might assume, becoming a nurse manager does not require the attainment of a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), although that is certainly a notable and worthwhile achievement for anyone looking for career advancement. Typically, to earn a promotion into management, you will need your registered nursing license, several years of clinical experience and most often, a minimum of a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). You may also want to pursue a Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) credential.
- Confidence and Decision-making Skills. Just because you are an exceptional caregiver with a great bedside manner, doesn’t necessarily translate to being a great nurse manager. Once you are in a leadership position, your focus is on the larger spectrum of overall patient care requiring dozens of decisions within a given shift. From hiring and staffing decisions, to budgetary and inventory decisions, it is going to be up to you to see the bigger picture and make the best decision you can make based on the information you have gathered. It takes confidence to be the decision maker and also to overcome and learn from it when you inevitably make a wrong decision.
- Having a Positive Attitude. A good nurse manager is also going to be the staff cheerleader at times. We have all faced particularly tough shifts in our nursing careers, and the best way to handle it is with a positive attitude and a belief that you did your best. No one wants to feel negativity from their manager when things have gone south. Your team needs to feel supported, and the best way to do that is with a kind word and a compassionate ear.
- Clear Communication. In lockstep with the positive attitude is having a vision for your unit. It is one thing to have an idea in your mind about how you want to see things operate, and it is another to articulate that vision clearly and consistently. As a manager, you are also a teacher, who works with your team to collaborate on how goals can be achieved. This clarity and inclusion builds team buy-in and sets the unit up for success.
- Open Doors, Open Doors. One of the biggest mistakes a new nurse manager can make is to hide in their office behind a desk filled with paperwork. The “Open Door Policy” is an overused cliché because of one reason, IT WORKS! Sure, you are going to be swamped, and feeling overwhelmed at times, but your staff doesn’t need to see that or sense that. Make it a point to be visible and available to your staff. Let them know that you are interested in how things are going and it never hurts to step in and offer to help when your unit is swamped. By keeping your office door open and encouraging staff to come in and share their ideas, or even just say hi, goes a long way to opening the door toward building the trust and communication of a successful leader.
Like most jobs in the healthcare sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health services management positions are expected to grow more than 17% over the next 10 years. The opportunities are going to be available if that is something you are inclined to pursue.
Have you considered pursuing a promotion to nurse manager or other leadership position? Have you already taken that step in your career? Please share your thoughts about the decision in the comment section below. Also, like our Facebook page and join the discussion there.