The Qualities of a Nurse Manager

An effective nurse manager must have excellent communication skills.
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Nurse managers usually come from the ranks of bedside nurses, but not even all accomplished nurses have the qualities to be an excellent nurse manager. To be an effective nurse supervisor, you will need personal and professional qualities that will allow you to lead your fellow nurses. You will also need good clinical skills and extensive clinical experience.

Clinical Expertise and Experience

    Nurse managers must have excellent clinical skills in the area they supervise. As a nurse manager, you might be expected to carry a patient load, either on a regular basis or when the patient census is exceptionally high. Since you'll be making patient care assignments, you'll need to understand how hard it is to take care of patients with different diagnoses. Sometimes you'll have to ask clinical questions or explain to a family about a procedure when they are questioning the actions of a nurse.

Communication Abilities

    A good nurse manager must be able to talk with everyone on the unit in the way that person understands. You'll need to be able to speak to doctors, administrative staffers, nursing assistants, nurses and even the custodial staff. You must also be able to negotiate well and communicate with groups of people. As a nurse manager, being able to negotiate between administration and individual nurses will greatly increase your effectiveness. When managers are effective, there is a lot less nurse turnover.


    To be an effective nurse manager you must be empathetic. You will need to be able to see the nurses who work for you as whole 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.

Ability to Respect and Empower

    The best nurse managers lead their nurses by empowering them and serving as a good example of commitment to the nursing profession. As a nurse manager, you should think of yourself as an advocate not only for the individual nurses you supervise, but all of the nursing profession. Taking actions such as encouraging nurses to go back to school and supporting them with a flexible schedule is one way you can empower nurses. You can also encourage nurses to take care of their own physical and emotional health, and serve as an example for them.

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