Nurse Manager – How to Become, Salary, Job Role and Other Details

Nursing professionals do their best to serve their patients, but if the service provided by nurses are not organized in an efficient way the outcomes can not be so effective. To keep track of the activities of nurses and to manage everything related to the nursing units, a nurse manager is hired. So, nurse manager is basically a health care provider who plays the main role in delivering the best quality patient care. They are involved in various activities such as supporting and managing the staff, providing nursing education to the nurses, recruitment, regulating the administrative and clinical functions of a clinical unit. Besides this, they also collaborate with the doctors about the patient care and even guide and assist patients and their families whenever they require. Thus, it is one of the most challenging nursing jobs, but at the same time, it is rewarding too. Besides nursing skills, there are many other traits that are also required to become a nurse manager. Here is a complete description for those who aspire for this art of nursing –

Who are Nurse Managers?

As explained above, these are the nurses who perform as a leader and take professional decisions of a nursing unit within an organization. They undertake administrative responsibilities and ensure that all the nurses in a unit offer best services and care for the patients. Thus, the performance of nursing unit completely depends on the nurse case manager who guides all the nursing professionals.

What do nurse managers do?

They are the most important part of a nursing unit. Thus, their job is quite critical. They have to perform numerous tasks at a time. Here is a list of duties performed by these professionals –

  • Collaboration with the doctors
  • Keep an eye on disciplinary actions and medical records
  • Manage finances
  • Guide patients and their family members
  • Recruit and administer nurses
  • Establish working schedules
  • Coordinate and arrange meetings
  • Empower the entire unit

Nurse managers are the in-charge of a particular unit in a hospital or clinical setting. They handle both clinical as well as administrative tasks. They are not only experts in nursing but also have excellent communication skills and capability to take charge of everything related to that specific unit such as emergency room or intensive care. Here is a detailed description about some important nurse manager roles played by a nurse manager –

Here is a detailed description about some important nurse manager responsibilities-

1. Coaching

The most important role of a nurse manager is a mentor. They have to guide the nursing staff; and especially the young or new nurses. They administer these newcomers very closely, admire them for a task performed by them properly, give them advice and suggestions about how to improve the quality of care to be delivered to the patients and their interactions with the other staff members and patients. Other than this, they also supervise veteran nurses and has to provide feedback to them related to their job performance in a complicated case. If there is a confusion regarding the treatment of a patient, the final decision is often made by the nurse manager, or in critical cases, they go for a second opinion of the patient’s doctor.

2. Nursing Leadership and Management

Smart nurse managers communicate with the nursing staff in a very effective way. S/he makes everything clear about what all are his/her expectations both from every individual and the whole team. S/he sets perfect guidelines about their behavior towards each other, patients and their family members. In the case of any dispute among the team members, it is the responsibility of the nurses' manager to sort it out before it becomes a hindrance in patient care. For this, s/he may talk to the people involved in the conflict and call them for a meeting. Encourage them to resolve the matter and create a plan for individuals, team, and patients.

3. Administering the Staff

It is the duty of a nurse manager to prepare a smart plan and give assignments to all the nurses s/he supervises. A nurse manager is very well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of every nurse, the types of cases they have handled so far and their experience levels. S/he has to be quite smart to understand the demand of a particular case and be sure about which staff member or a group of members can undertake the task in the best way and can fulfill the expectations of the organization. In case an individual is not performing up to the mark, not completing the tasks and assignments on time or is rude to the patient, s/he has the right to take disciplinary action against the nurse and instruct him/her to improve.

4. Patient Relations

Nurse managers work for the welfare of patients and their families. In case, patients have any kind of issue about the quality of care provided by the organization, they are free to talk about it to the nurse manager. Other than this, if they feel that any nurse talk to them rudely or not provided them with the proper care. Nurse managers have to spare time to answer the questions of patients and their families. S/he also has to assure them that their concerns will be taken seriously and they will get what they actually require. S/he may call them for a meeting where s/he can discuss with them about his/her plan or steps s/he is going to undertake to inquire about the complaint and find out the best solution for the problem.

Qualities and Skills Required to be a Nurse Manager

It is quite obvious that the nursing professionals who regulate so many things at a time and administer the whole nursing unit must have some out of the ordinary qualities and traits to deliver their best to the patient care. Here are some of the abilities and qualities that an aspirant must own to practice as a nurse manager –

1. Self-awareness

It is something that is of utmost importance for you to be a leader. You must be capable enough of analyzing yourself, understanding about how your feelings and emotions can affect others. For instance, you have set a perfect plan for a patient, but somehow it fails due to careless behavior of the patient or his/her family members. In such as case, if the family of the patient complains about the care, medication or treatment provided by the organization, it may arise the feelings of several emotions such as anger, alarm or disappointment at that particular time. In such a situation you should be mature enough to handle all that you feel and want to express. You should think about the mental status of the patients and his/her family members and how your immediate response can worsen the situation for them. This would only be possible if you are very well aware of yourself, your feelings, emotions, and thoughts. To keep yourself focused on work you can opt meditation or exercise. Running or walking may also help you to tackle your response and actions of various situations that you can face at work.

2. Time Management

Since you are the one who not only has to plan things and work to accomplish in a day for himself/herself but you have to set schedules for all the team members of the nursing unit. Thus, it is quite essential for you to manage your time properly otherwise, you will not be able to sort the things out on time and efficiently. If you concentrate only on administration part and neglect patient care, this will not work. In the end, your performance and the organization’s outcome is going to suffer. So, if you want to work as a perfect leader, you should plan and prioritize your day as per the requirement. You can consider the following tips to manage your time effectively.

  • Organizing
    Keep everything organized, as this will be an essential key to keep everything well set in the nursing unit. Maintain all the hard and soft copies of records and files related to the patients in a perfect way, so that it would be an easier task to find them out when required.
  • Plan your everyday work
    This will simplify everything for you, as you don’t need to waste your time thinking about what to do next. Evaluate everything that is pending or has to be done and prioritize them one by one. Once you reach at your workplace, complete the tasks that you have numbered from most important to the least within the appropriate time you require to accomplish each of them. Other than this, you must also spare some time for some unexpected tasks.
  • Scheduling
    Once you plan everything and know about what all things are needed to be done, form a schedule for everything. First, try to complete the pending tasks and then the new ones. The schedule makes you feel less stressed as everything will get settled very easily.

3. Relationship Management

Relationship management is something at which even many good leaders fail. If a leader is not able to manage and maintain relations with the teammates, then there will not be the feeling of team spirit among the other members. Instead, a feeling of hatred and jealousy will arouse. This kind of environment is not good for the organization and the patients too. You have to be balanced in your decisions regarding a conflict in your team. It is not only that you have to manage the relationships around you, but you must also try to maintain it among other members of the team so that they share healthy relationships.

4. Social Awareness

Social awareness is something that gives you the ability to understand the needs of others. It builds your emotional intelligence and people start respecting you as you are the one who understands what they require at a point of time. This ability of yours proves that you skillfully consider what others want from you and can communicate with them in the way that their requirements get fulfilled.

5. Strategic Decision-making

Smart nurse managers must have the quality of strategic decision making as they have to balance and regulate both short and long term goals. These decisions are taken on their own and success completely depends on how smartly they are taken by the manager.

6. Leading with Integrity

It is again an important trait that every professional must have. But when it comes to nursing professional, it becomes even more essential. As you are a role model for many nurses in the unit, they will follow the path opted by you. Thus, it is necessary for a nurse manager to work with integrity and honesty.

7. Computer Skills

Being a nurse manager, you have to keep track of all records and information related to the organization and the patients. It is not easy to maintain a paper record. Thus you have to go for online cloud storage options. In this way, you can easily download, print, upload or update the documents on this Internet-based program. Thus, it is another ability that is high in demand for nurse managers. They must be capable of navigating various computer software via smartphone, tablet or laptop.

8. Financial Skills

Though you are considered as a nurse, most of your duties and responsibilities are of a manager. Sometimes, you need to oversee revenue and expenses of an organization. To accomplish such tasks, it is must for you to have knowledge about various financial terms such as forecasting, financial planning, performance rations, budgets, case flow, billing, etc.

9. Business Skills

Being a manager, you often need to take decisions as a businessman, because a medical facility is also a kind of business. If you are not capable of handling such things, you will not be considered a smart nurse manager. You must take smart decisions that do not create any kind of problems for the nursing professionals of your unit or patients. These skills make you a more efficient and effective manager and an intelligent leader. If you have no idea about how to develop these skills, you can go for a course in finance and business.

10. Leadership Skills

These skills are something without which you can not imagine a nurse manager. It will be even more beneficial for you if you know about different leadership styles as you can use the one which works for a particular situation. Since you have analyzed almost every staff member, you must be quite smart to decide the best style to keep everything going with the flow. You can be a transformational, affiliative, authoritarian or democratic leader. Democratic leaders always try to achieve the targets by taking all the team members along with him/her, whereas a transformational leader gives specific attention to each staff member and work for their development. On the other hand, an affiliative leader’s priority is always patients and staff, and an authoritarian leader just orders about the things s/he expects from the staff and wants them to be carried out without any question. So, it is possible that one kind of style that suits your unit is adaptable for other units too. It completely depends on the kind of people you are working with and what are the demands and targets that are needed to be fulfilled.

11. Fortitude

A nurse manager comes across numerous conflicts, complaints and cases every day and it is quite important for them to deal with everything smartly. It is essential to respond rather than reacting to any situation. They have to be quite tough, and they just can’t take everything personally. Instead of this, they have to think upon the things and mistakes that lead to the criticism and try to resolve the problems as soon as possible. Besides this, they also need to make other nurses and staff members understand that the hurtful remarks are not personal, but they occur because of the situation. This leads to the success of the nurses, manager, patients and the organization as a whole. Thus, fortitude is an essential trait that every nurse manager must have.

12. Encourage Collaboration

Interpersonal skills are something without which a nurse manager can’t be a good leader. These skills are required the most when it comes to dealing with the nursing staff, patients and their families and the other healthcare professionals. Nurse managers have to communicate with all of them and try to collaborate with these groups. This will create a learning and friendly environment which will, in turn, help you to provide the best patient care.

13. Clinical Expertise and Experience

Nurse as a manager for an organization must be highly proficient in the field they supervise. Being a nurse manager, you can be expected to serve the patients in case there is a need. As you make patient care assignments for other nurses, you must be aware of how difficult it is to provide care to the patients with different health issues. Sometimes you need to ask some clinical question to your staff or explain to the families of patients when the inquire about the measures and action taken by the nursing unit to serve the patient.

14. Empathy

Empathy is a trait that every nursing professional must have. Stress and burnout may often lead to making you short tempered and fiery.

To be an effective nurse manager you must be empathetic. You need to be able to see the nurses who work for you as people, with lives and concerns outside of work, and be able to see situations from their point of view. You will also need to be emotionally attuned to the difficulties of patients and family members on the floors you supervise, especially when called on to negotiate conflict with nurses or other staffers.

15. Ability to Respect and Empower

A good leader makes others feel free to share their ideas. A nurse manager being a leader must have the ability to respect his or her team and try to empower the whole team to provide the best results. Your team can only give its best if it has your complete support. You can accomplish this by offering a flexible schedule to the nurses, encouraging and empowering them and making them understand the importance of their own mental, physical, and emotional fitness.

16. Visible

The first and foremost thing that has to be done in order to plan everything wisely as a nurse manager is to be approachable to his/her staff. Instead of sitting in a closed cabin, you should go for rounds and interact with the patients and the staff members. This makes them feel and understand that you are quite interested in all the matters that occur inside the nursing unit. You should welcome suggestions from your colleagues to improve the quality of care and services provided by their unit. Try to follow open door policy so that nurses do not feel hesitation to talk to you about anything.

17. Curious

Another important thing is whether you know of each and every member or your team or not. If you are friendly with them, you get to know their strengths and weaknesses and what kind of assistance they need from you. This will help you to sort out things easily as you can assign tasks as per the ability and interest of a particular individual.

18. Be Clear

Keep everything clear in front of your team members and set a specific set of guidelines for every individual so that everyone must be aware of the targets and objectives that are to be achieved. Set your teammates free and let them decide the best way to accomplish the task submitted to them. This will enhance the feeling of team spirit among the nurses, and the results will be outstanding. If you appreciate someone’s performance be clear about it and praise him/her. This will not only boost their confidence but also strengthen your relationship with the team. On the contrary, if there is a nurse who is not performing the tasks properly, it is your duty to make him/her understand the mistakes done and offer him/her some tips to keep everything settled in future.

19. Optimistic

It is a quality that is must for a nurse manager aspirant. Being a leader, you are often ideal person for many. Thus you should display yourself relaxed and happy even in critical conditions. Nurses would be able to perform better in an optimistic environment and also enjoy working with you. Thus, if a nurse manager wants to offer the best patient care, s/he must be an optimist, as it may lead to the formation of a great team that can accomplish even the most difficult tasks.

How to Be a Nurse Manager?

Education Requirements of a Nurse Manager

A nurse manager is a nursing professional who not only maintains and guides a nursing unit in a clinical facility but also serves patients. Thus, other than the academic requirements there are several other things such as your goals in life, personality, performance and experience that are essential to play a nurse manager’s role. Though basic requirements to become a nurse manager are similar in all the clinical facilities, but some employers may ask for few more things. Some organizations demand a registered nurse with some years of experience. They do not ask for a bachelor degree in nursing. On the other hand, there are employers whose eligibility criteria for nurse manager is a BSN degree.


One can work as a nurse manager without certification, but if a nurse manager is certified, it becomes a proof of their knowledge. CNML is a special certificate provided to the nurses who want to manage everything related to nursing unit and practice as a nurse manager. There is a certain list of requirements that are to required to be fulfilled in order to become CNML certified. They are as follows –

  1. Bachelor’s degree in nursing and 2 years of experience as a nursing manager.
  2. A bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing and 3 years of experience as a nurse manager.
  3. An associate’s degree and 5 years of experience as a nurse manager.

Every individual must have an unrestricted and valid nursing licensure. The exam for certification comprises 115 multiple choice questions with the coverage on strategic nursing management and technology, human resource management, performance improvement and financial management. One can use the CNML designation only if s/he scores at least passing marks in the exam. Then you can mention CNML on your resumes, business cards and other materials related to your profession.

Salary of a Nurse Manager

As per the data of a nurse manager’s salary was $102,398 per annum on April 3, 2017. On the other hand, as per the statistics of, the annual wage of these professionals was $74,853 as of March 31, 2017. Here is a list of the income of nurse managers in various states of the United States of America.

Name of the State Salary
Alabama $68,722
Alaska $111,729
Arizona $85,330
Arkansas $74,038
California $133,633
Colorado $87,455
Connecticut $102,064
Delaware $91,785
District of Columbia $94,611
Florida $80,608
Georgia $86,055
Illinois $101,487
Indiana $67,508
Iowa $75,460
Kansas $70,570
Louisiana $73,871
Maryland $90,928
Massachusetts $111,353
Michigan $67,708
Minnesota $76,277
Missouri $70,560
Montana $84,325
Nevada $110,958
New Hampshire $97,911
New Jersey $107,411
New Mexico $88,286
New York $99,728
North Carolina $75,984
Ohio $99,735
Oklahoma $66,160
Oregon $106,927
Pennsylvania $88,183
Rhode Island $109,697
South Carolina $93,802
Tennessee $89,136
Texas $86,966
Vermont $87,339
Virginia $86,048
Washington $120,271
West Virginia $63,598
Wisconsin $89,935

Information Source:

According to the data mentioned in the table above, nurse case manager salary was the highest in California with $133,633, whereas in West Virginia these professionals earned the least, i.e., $63,598. It shows that there is a huge variation in the salary offered by different states of the country.

Job Outlook of Nurse Managers in the United States of America

You can find these healthcare professionals working in public health departments, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or at a physician’s office. Since there is a huge demand for nurses in the country due to the rising health hazards, thus nurse manager is one of the most alluring professions of nurse aspirants. There are not only numerous job opportunities for these nurses in U.S., but they are also paid quite well all over the country. As per the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mean annual wage of nurse managers was $109,370, as of May 2015 and the employment level was 332,150.