The Role And Responsibilities Of Nurse Managers

By Karen P Williams

Managing a staff of nurses is a challenging career that requires nursing and managerial skills. A nursing management career starts with being a licensed practical nurse and working your way up through years of clinical practice and advanced education. They also participate in management training that addresses specific issues that deals with employees, behavioral standards, and handling of legal issues that is associated with the supervision of the people working in the hospital environment. Nurse Managers or what used to be called as head nurses handle specific departments such as the intensive care unit or pediatrics.

Duties of a nurse manager

Nurse Managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and directing health services in their department to ensure that the goals and objectives are performed consistently and that the services provided to the patients is of the highest quality and standard.

They select, mentor, motivate, and direct the development and evaluation of the staff nurses. They are responsible for establishing and keeping track of quality improvement indicators and other information that concerns the patient care and services. They ensure that resources are available in order to provide high quality service and the on-time performance that is consistent with the facility’s standards. At times, they devise educational programs that are health related for the facility’s non-professional and professional staff.


They participate, consult and collaborate with other units and healthcare providers in developing long term plans for health care programs. They interpret and communicate policies and procedures that the agency or facility puts in place to establish areas of responsibility and assignments among departments and staff.

They are also responsible for developing budget estimates and handle other information pertaining to financial concerns and requirements. They approve and monitor expenditures and purchases to ensure that the budget guidelines are complied to.

They are responsible in the staff maintenance. They assign nurses to particular cases and oversee the patient care to ensure that it remains at a high standard. They are also involved in creating treatment plans for patients and to coordinate the efforts of the medical team. This is to keep everyone up to date of the progress in the medical care and condition of the patient.

Key challenges in nursing management

Increasing nursing staff satisfaction and retention. One of the most challenging aspects of being a nurse manager is how to effectively address or reduce the effects of the continuing shortage of nurses especially in their respective facility or department.

Planning and managing the unit’s finances and resources. This requires proper planning and management on a shift to shift basis and in between shifts.

Handling of labor and union issues. Labor unions are becoming more demanding in their efforts to affect the hospital’s management decisions. Nurse Managers need to have the sophistication, skill and diplomacy in order to effectively address such concerns and issues.

Creating a positive and performance oriented culture. A nurse manager has a great influence in establishing a positive and performance oriented culture by building an open communication with the staff and establish the standards of care, build an alliance with her staff and other members of the multi-disciplinary team and assure that each one feels valued and committed to organizational goals.

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