Tips for Moving Up to Nurse Manager

January 29

Advice for Nurses Moving Up to Nurse Manager

Perhaps you’ve reached a point in your nursing career where you want more professional challenge and responsibility. For some, this means becoming a clinical nurse specialist or a nurse practitioner; for others, the move to nurse manager is most appealing.

A nurse manager is the head of a nursing department. As a leader, she or he has a variety of roles and responsibilities that may include the following:

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  • Oversee the entire nursing staff.
  • Work directly with doctors and other specialists to ensure all directions are being fulfilled by the nursing staff.
  • Manage inventory of equipment and supplies; replace or arrange to have fixed any equipment that is not working properly.
  • Manage the department budget.
  • Seek to streamline operating procedures; work with the administration of the facility to improve service.
  • Stay abreast of the latest science and techniques and help the nursing staff obtain necessary information and education.
  • Interview and hire new nurses; handle disciplinary actions and the firing of nurses who are not suitable for the job.
  • Guide new nurses and help them develop professionally.


Since there is generally only one nurse manager per department, it can be challenging to work your way into that role. However, it is not a role that is suitable for everyone; therefore, if you develop your skills and advance your education, you may find yourself ready to move up to that position. Here are a few tips to help you become a nurse manager:

Set Your Sights

Knowing what you want to achieve will guide your career from the very beginning. When you realise you want to be a nurse manager, create an action plan that will help you stay focused on that goal.

Get Experience

Nurse managers have generally had several years of clinical nursing experience. You’ll want to be comfortable with your duties and competent in all required skills before you advance. Learn as much as you can about how your hospital or other facility functions.

Hone Your Skills

Nurse managers need good communication, organization, decision-making, and time management skills in addition to nursing knowledge. If you aren’t comfortable having difficult conversations, making quick decisions in a high-stress environment, or keeping track of multiple tasks, it’s time to practice. When you’re a nurse manager, your staff will want someone who is results-oriented and able to think strategically to help the entire team succeed. Consider taking courses and reading books that will help you improve your weak areas, and look for opportunities to rise up to those sorts of challenges rather than letting someone else handle them.

Advance Your Education

You may want to get an advanced degree in nursing, healthcare administration, or business administration. Look for other opportunities for advanced certificates and professional development. Education and experience will both enhance your CV when you apply for a nurse manager position.

Become a Charge Nurse

Taking on more responsibility as the nurse in charge during your shift, at which point the nurse manager may or may not be present on the floor, is one way to demonstrate your interest and ability as a manager. It also helps you learn more about managing a team of nurses and whether it truly is of interest to you.


Building relationships is essential in any industry. At best, those connections may help you get a job; one day, one of the people you met in a professional online forum, at work, or in a networking group might let you know about an upcoming nurse management opening or even recommend you for the position. Even if your networking doesn’t lead to that, your new friends and acquaintances may be available to offer advice, give recommendations on educational opportunities, and provide feedback. As you advance in your career, you may be able to do the same for them.

Find a Mentor

Speak to current nurse managers (at your place of employment or another) to learn more about the role. Ask one of them to develop a mentorship relationship with you. Many mid- and upper-level professionals in Ireland have worked with mentors to help them prepare for and advance their careers; learning from those who have been there, done that, is a smart career move. A good mentor will help you set goals and offer constructive criticism when necessary. Each mentorship is different, depending upon your needs and preferences, so it’s essential to work with someone who shares your vision for the relationship.

If you’re looking for a new nursing position, please contact us, we are a leader in nursing recruitment in Ireland. We’d be happy to help you find a position to advance your career and take you a step closer to becoming a nurse manager.


About the Author

Rebecca Pontes

Rebecca Pontes

Senior Consultant - Healthcare 1 963 7070

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