Maybe you have been charge for a while or find yourself frequently filling in for your charge. Maybe you’re getting restless with bedside nursing and are looking to move up the career ladder. Maybe you simply love organizing things: people and budgets and workflows.

No matter your personal reasons for considering a move to nurse manager, this may be an excellent time to go for it. LiquidCompass lists nearly 600 openings for RN managers across the United States. And the 2018 Nursing Salary Research Report found that the average salary for a nurse manager was $92,000. Plenty of positions plus an excellent salary sounds like a winning combination.

What Nurse Managers Do

Before you take the plunge, you might consider how the actual duties of nursing management fit with your skills and personality. While the specific tasks performed by a nurse manager vary, depending on the organization’s structure and even the requirements of individual units, most nurse managers:

  • Manage the unit’s budget
  • Supervise nurses and other staff
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Coordinate care and scheduling with other units
  • Communicate with patients and family members
  • Facilitate delivery of high-quality care
  • Provide high-level clinical expertise to staff nurses and patients

Being a nurse manager requires a balance of intellect and emotional intelligence. Because you’ll be leading teams of nurses and support staff, you’ll need to hone your people skills as well as your knowledge of business principles. Transformational nurse leaders who combine management acumen with excellent leadership skills tend to be the most successful in the nurse manager role.

How to Prepare for Nursing Management

If you’re feeling nurse manager makes the best “next step” for your career, you can begin today to prepare yourself for the role. Start by choosing your nursing niche and advancing your clinical expertise through certifications and other activities that demonstrate your acumen.

Then, when you feel ready to move into a management role, you can take these steps:

  • Ask your current manager for support. Let your current supervisor know you want to move into management and ask for help to get there. 
  • Consult the human resources department. Find out if your organization offers a specific career ladder for nurses who want to move into management. Your HR department can tell you exactly what skills, knowledge and abilities you’ll need for consideration as a manager.
  • Take on management tasks. While you’re still working at the bedside, offer to help with supervisory responsibilities. 
  • Develop your business management skills. This can mean reading books on business management or taking courses like the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Certified Nurse Manager and Leader certification review course.
  • Volunteer for leadership opportunities. Offer to serve on shared governance committees and in other leadership roles.
  • Polish your resume and interview skills. Revise your resume to reflect your management skills and experience. Then study up on how to interview like an executive.
  • Join relevant organizations, such as AONL. Not only will you find educational opportunities to help you develop the characteristics of a great nurse manager, but you’ll be able to network with people in a position to help you find your first (or next!) nurse manager job.

Become a Certified Nurse Manager

Obtaining certification as a nurse manager and leader shows prospective employers that you possess deep knowledge of healthcare-specific business management principles. The AONL CNML review course provides excellent preparation for certification and covers these core areas:

  • Financial management
  • Human resource management
  • Performance improvement
  • Strategic management and technology

The review course will provide you with a confidence-boosting foundation of knowledge for taking on your first nurse manager position. And that CNML certification will make you a very attractive candidate to employers.

What Comes Next

Once you find your first nurse manager job, the sky’s the limit. Many nurse managers continue to climb the executive ladder – sometimes all the way to the C-suite as a CNO, COO or CEO. Along the way, you may want to continue your formal education by getting some type of healthcare management degree (and there are many to choose from).

Becoming a nurse manager gives you the opportunity to gain experience in a leadership role in nursing. It may ignite a passion for leadership that can take your career in many exciting directions. But you can’t get there until you’ve met the initial challenge: finding your first job as a nurse manager. Search Liquid Compass today for RN manager openings to learn more about the qualifications for these types of positions and to start your journey in nursing leadership.


About the Author

Elizabeth_Hanes_RNElizabeth Hanes, RN is ‘the nurse who knows' content. She is a freelance writer who combines her knowledge of nursing with over 20 years in journalism. Her unique background brings credibility and authenticity to her writing.