4 Skills for Nurse Manager Positions

HCnursemanagerIf you’re just entering the nursing workforce, or if you already have a few years under your cap, you may be thinking about advancing up the healthcare ladder to a nursing manager position. For anyone interested in pursuing the management track, you’ll need to build the necessary skills to qualify for nurse manager positions. Prepping your career for a leadership position can be lucrative, as nurse managers can expect salaries between $82K and $89K per year, according to American Nurse Today, depending on education and experience.

Usually a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for the job, says Pamela Gossman, DNP, APN, CFNP and market manager with Walgreens, Take Care Health. However, holding a MHA (masters in health administration), MSN (masters of science in nursing), or MBA (master in business administration) could help you land the job a little easier.

It’s expected that more nurse leaders will be needed as the American healthcare system continues to evolve and as droves of experienced nurses head for retirement. As the “Future of Nursing” report from the Institutes of Medicine stated, “The nursing profession must produce leaders throughout the healthcare system, from the bedside to the boardroom, who can serve as full partners with other health professionals and be accountable for their own contributions to delivering high-quality care while working collaboratively with leaders from other health professions.”

How to prepare for the nurse manager role

Merge a management and clinical mindset. Nurse managers often deliver patient care, manage other nurses and create business strategies, says Gossman. ”The biggest thing we see with nurse managers is that they need to think outside the clinical aspect. But it’s hard to mix business and clinical,” she says. That’s why it’s crucial that nurses build a stronger “business acumen.”

Boost your financial knowledge. Drawing blood is much different than drawing cash from asset accounts. But the accounting knowledge goes a long way. Gossman suggests learning how to analyze budgets and profits and losses (P&L) reports. Try to identify “controllable and noncontrollable expenses” says Gossman, to decrease spending.

Inject yourself into hospital business. Barb Gindle, BSN, nurse manager at Banner Health, learned about vital hospital decisions and how it impacted patients. “The director encouraged me to go to leadership meetings. She explained what the meetings meant, and why decisions were made.”

Find balance. Experts agree, nurses aren’t always eager to pursue management positions, notorious for excess responsibility, stress and business skills which are rarely taught in nursing school. But nurse managers like Gindle thrive in the role because of the job’s variety. “I’m able to keep my clinical skills up, and still able to help the unit and get my fix on patient care.”

Gindle spent about eight years as a regular OB staff nurse before pursuing a part-time charge nurse position. As nurse manager, she’s figured out how to gain support. “I’m not on call 24 hours and I share the calls with my co-managers.”

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© Health Callings, Dice Holdings Inc., 2013

About Elise Oberliesen

Elise Oberliesen is a Denver-based journalist and contributing editor who currently writes for several print and online healthcare media. With over 12 years of health-related journalism experience, she also writes newsletter and web content for health communications companies. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. www.eliseoberliesen.com

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