What Are A Nurse Manager's Responsibilities? (With Tips)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Nurse managers oversee the nursing staff in a hospital and other clinical settings. It is a role that requires both clinical expertise and management skills. Knowing the responsibilities and day-to-day duties can help you decide if you want to transition from your current nursing role to a nursing management position. In this article, we discuss a nurse manager's responsibilities, the tiers of nursing managerial roles and share tips on succeeding in your nursing management career:

Overview Of A Nurse Manager's Responsibilities

A nurse manager's responsibilities vary depending on the size of the healthcare facility and specialisation. Here are a few common responsibilities of nurse managers:

  • Hiring and training new nurses for the hospital or clinic

  • Completing patient care by scheduling and assigning nurses for various duties

  • Supervising nursing staff during their shifts

  • Planning the budget for the nursing department

  • Developing the skills of the nursing staff by offering clinical advice and answering any questions they might have about their duties

  • Collaborating with doctors and other professionals in the hospital

  • Improving patient's health with day-to-day and long-term planning of patient care

  • Providing psychological and emotional support for patients and their families

  • Enhancing patient care by improving the functioning of the nursing department

  • Providing periodic training for nurses and other auxiliary staff

  • Evaluating the performance of individual nurses and conducting appraisals

  • Offering counselling, coaching and one-on-one feedback to nursing staff

  • Maintaining a safe and clean working environment by following local, state and national health procedures and protocols

  • Communicating timely and relevant information to all nurses

  • Maintaining a collaborative professional relationship amongst various healthcare teams

  • Conducting team-building activities for nursing staff

Related: 9 Nurse Manager Skills (With Tips To Improve And Benefits)

Day-To-Day Tasks Of A Nurse Manager

While the daily duties of a nurse manager vary depending on where they work and their speciality, here are a few tasks that are common to all nurse managers:

Ensure patient's welfare

Nurse managers ensure that patients and their families receive the highest level of care and attention from all nursing staff. They ensure that nurses follow the instructions of doctors and other healthcare staff. They create schedules and plan the shifts of nurses so that patients receive optimal services and support.

Supervise nurses

The nursing manager acts as a role model and mentor for junior nurses and ensures that all nurses meet the patient care requirements of the hospital. Their duties include monitoring the performance of current nurses, scheduling nursing shifts, appointing and training new nurses, performing evaluations of nurses and conducting counselling sessions for nurses to help them manage their workload efficiently. They work closely with the human resources (HR) department to make hiring and firing decisions for the nursing team. They are also responsible for verifying the credentials and certifications of nursing employees.

Related: What Does A Staff Nurse Do? (Skills And Responsibilities)

Represent nurse's welfare to management

The nursing manager acts as a liaison between the nursing staff and the senior management of the hospital. They facilitate clear communication between nurses and other departments, like the HR and administrative teams. They also help in resolving conflicts, if any, between the nursing team and doctors and other healthcare staff. Exceptional communication and negotiation skills can help the nurse manager achieve these tasks efficiently.

Make financial decisions for the nursing team

The nurse manager is involved in planning, creating and implementing the budget for the nursing department. They ensure that the nursing department has adequate resources and staff to provide exemplary patient care. They evaluate multiple suppliers and vendors and make budget-friendly medical purchase decisions, without impacting the team's output. Overall, they ensure that the nursing department runs as efficiently as possible, without any delays or loss of quality due to a lack of the right medical tools and equipment.

Plan hospital policies that impact the nursing team

A hospital comprises different departments and relevant insights from different department heads ensure that the hospital functions seamlessly and collaboratively. The nurse manager raises concerns and feedback on behalf of the nursing department and ensures that the nursing team's view gets represented at policy-making meetings. They participate in high-level policy discussions with senior doctors, administrators, hospital managers and other stakeholders. They periodically evaluate the effectiveness of nursing policies and recommend appropriate suggestions. They also communicate the latest policy changes to all nurses and ensure that they understand and follow the guidelines of the hospital.

Maintain patient records

Clear medical records help doctors, specialists and nurses provide the right treatment for patients based on their case history. The nurse manager ensures that all nurses maintain accurate patient records, so that the information is easily accessible to doctors and nurses, without any loss of communication when they change from one shift to another. A strong understanding of digital records management and databases can help nurse managers carry out this task efficiently.

Tiers Of Nursing Manager Roles

Nursing manager roles are of three tiers based on their level of leadership and responsibilities:

First-line nurse managers

Also known as nursing supervisors, they are responsible for overseeing the care and medical requirements of patients under their direct supervision. Usually, hospitals have one nursing supervisor for each ward or department. They manage a team of nurses working in a specific ward or on a particular shift. Their responsibilities include:

  • Tracking if nurses in their ward show up on time for their duties

  • Provide the best care for patients in their ward as per doctor's instructions

  • Follow the organisational policies of the department or ward

  • Monitor and order supplies and inventory for their department

  • Offer emotional support to patients under their care

Mid-level nurse managers

The next level of nurse managers in a hospital or clinical setting includes nurse coordinators. They are responsible for several wards or patient units in a healthcare facility. Often, first-line nurse manager report to mid-level nurse managers. Their responsibilities include:

  • Act as an interface between senior management and the nursing department

  • Interpret orders from senior executives and coordinate with other nursing managers and departments

  • Handle the budgeting of the nursing department

  • Hire and train nursing staff

Upper-level nurse managers

Also known as Chief Nursing Officers (CNO), nursing directors or nursing executives, nurse managers hold the highest nursing responsibilities in a hospital or healthcare facility. Mid-level nurse managers and other healthcare staff report to them. They handle the following duties:

  • Design the overall nursing care procedures to provide patients with the best in-hospital care

  • Make strategic business decisions that impact all nurses in a healthcare facility

  • Handle high-level budgetary decisions for the nursing department

Related: Nursing Roles And Responsibilities: A Complete Guide

Tips To Succeed As A Nurse Manager

Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your role as a nurse manager:

1. Focus on effective communication

Clear, open and honest communication can help you avoid preventable medical errors, reduce nurse turnover and improve the morale of the nursing department. Improving your verbal and written communication can help you provide positive and encouraging feedback to other nurses and help them improve patient care. It also helps you in connecting with patients and their families, while explaining medical procedures and offering emotional support. Here are a few ways to improve your communication skills in a healthcare setting:

  • Improve active listening

  • Focus on your body language

  • Repeat or paraphrase your comments for clarity

  • Use positive and encouraging words

Related: Verbal Communication Examples In The Workplace (With Tips)

2. Develop critical thinking

Nurse managers encounter several problems as part of their role. Developing critical thinking can help you make balanced decisions and solve problems that arise in the workplace. Critical thinking involves analysing, evaluating, inferring and using deductive reasoning to solve challenges. Nurses with robust critical thinking help in creating a positive work environment and deliver better patient care.

3. Be a mentor and seek a mentor

Serving as a mentor allows you to share your knowledge and expertise with new nurses. This is of significant help to young nurses who might struggle to keep pace with the demands of the role. Maintain a friendly relationship with nurses in your team and let them know that they can approach you if they face any challenges or need career guidance. Besides being a mentor, ensure that you have a senior colleague who acts as your mentor and guides you as you transition from the role of a nurse to nurse manager.

Related: What Are Mentoring Skills? (With Definition And Examples)

4. Stay organised

Nurse managers handle a wide array of responsibilities like tracking nurse's schedules, monitoring patient records and communicating with senior management. Staying organised helps you remain a better leader and makes it easy for other nurses to follow your instructions. Having a plan to deal with contingencies can help you deal with any difficult situations that arise at work.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills? (Plus How To Improve Them)

5. Encourage professional development and embrace learning opportunities

One of the best ways to reduce nurse turnover is by offering development opportunities to your team members. Encourage nurses on your team to further their education and receive advanced certifications. You can also organise training programmes to keep your team members updated with the latest developments in the field of patient care. Ensure that you keep yourselves updated with the latest tools, software and medical procedures to stay current and keep on enhancing your expertise.

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