Nurse managers are the leaders of nursing units within a medical facility. They are responsible for both the daily operations of the unit and the clinical care it provides. Nurse managers typically are registered nurses who have experience working as a staff nurse, often in units similar to the ones that they manage, according to Health Leaders Media.
The health care functions of a nursing unit are at the top of a nurse manager's duties. Nurse managers do not typically keep tabs on all of their unit's patients, but they frequently stay updated on unusual, difficult or high-profile cases, providing guidance and input on their care. In some cases, they will become more involved and collaborate with physicians on patient care, according to Discover Nursing. They pursue patient safety initiatives, manage quality control, oversee management of medical records and may help nurses communicate with patients or family.
Finance and Budgeting
A major adjustment for many nurses who make the transition from staff nurse to nurse manager is the new finance-based work required of them, according to Health Leaders Media. They must manage the nursing unit's budget and oversee its expenses, such as payroll and supplies. The unit's ability to limit spending to its budgeted amount falls on the nurse manager's shoulders. They also seek funds for such efforts as equipment upgrades and continuing education for their staff members.
Nurse managers must oversee the nurses in their units. Central to this responsibility is the recruitment, hiring and retention of nursing staff. They ensure staffing levels are adequate for shifts, reward high performers with promotions and issue disciplinary actions when necessary. Nurse managers must be available to members of their units to serve as a sounding board, providing guidance and support. As leaders of a unit, nurse managers also must set the tone for the nurses they supervise. A key aspect of this leadership role is serving as a mentor to younger, less experienced nurses.
The nurse manager serves as a type of spokesperson for the unit to the rest of a medical operation. They represent the unit in communications with other professionals throughout an organization, such as administrators, physicians and representatives of other nursing units. For instance, the nurse manager would represent the unit if an ongoing conflict or complication emerged between the unit's nurses and a collaborating unit. They serve as an advocate for the unit and a liaison to foster new projects and collaborations with other groups.
Tom Gresham is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who has been writing professionally since 1999. His articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "Virginia Magazine," "Vermont Magazine," "Adirondack Life" and the "Southern Arts Journal," among other publications. He graduated from the University of Virginia.