RN Management Careers for Master’s Degree Graduates: Nurse Manager

Are you looking to complete your graduate degree in nursing? If so, you’ll find that there are many career advancement opportunities for RNs with who hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. With an MSN in Nursing Administration and relevant experience, you can be promoted to a nurse manager role.

What Does a Nurse Manager Do?

Nurse managers are in charge of the daily operations of a nursing unit within a hospital. They manage other nurses; and although they work to improve patient care, their contact with patients may be more limited. Nurse managers tend to focus primarily on managerial and administrative duties for their entire unit. Their responsibilities often call for them to:

  • Hire nursing staff and coordinate training
  • Conduct employee evaluations and professional development programs
  • Create work and shift schedules
  • Provide nursing quality assurance
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Create departmental budgets and track monthly expenses
  • Purchase equipment and supplies

In addition, nurse managers frequently attend meetings with other medical staff and collaborate with them to plan and implement programs for patient care.

Some of their managerial tasks influence patient care, such as developing specific unit objectives, identifying and planning new programs, and reviewing policies and procedures to ensure that standards are being met. Nurse managers may also provide nursing consultation to other staff members and patients; monitor patient care for ethical, legal and safety standards; ensure the safety of equipment and work environments; and resolve patient care issues.

While coordinating patient care, nurse managers have a high degree of personal contact and communication with various levels of nursing staff and management, as well as physicians. They may also communicate with the public and external organizations to coordinate healthcare services.

This position also involves supervision of nursing and clerical staff. A nursing manager oversees staff and regularly evaluates their performance by reviewing patient care plans, observing nursing practices and soliciting feedback from patients, their family members and physicians.

Skills Needed to Excel in a Nurse Manager Career

Nurse managers usually start out as RNs, and therefore need to have general nursing skills and knowledge, which includes medical procedures and patient rights. As managers, they also need to have strong leadership skills. The following skills are important to this job:

  • Ability to properly monitor and assess nursing care given to patients
  • Effectiveness in motivating, selecting and disciplining staff
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to plan and implement new programs
  • Good record-keeping and budgeting skills
  • Comfort in working with a wide variety of healthcare professionals
  • Strong time-management and delegation skills, along with the ability to give detailed written and oral instructions
  • Ability to coordinate patient care by collaborating with different departments and units
  • Expertise in adapting nursing care to suit the behavioral and emotional needs of patients

How to Prepare for a Career as a Nurse Manager

Nurse managers are typically registered nurses with advanced education, training and clinical nursing experience. They generally have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree; however, many employers give preference to candidates who hold or are pursuing their MSN degree. An MSN in Nursing Administration can be an ideal first step for aspiring nurse managers, as it allows RNs to develop the leadership skills and strategies necessary to succeed in this role.

What Can You Expect to Earn as a Nurse Manager?

Salaries in this field can vary based on education, experience and location, among other factors. According to national salary surveys conducted by, nursing managers typically earned between $60,495 and $85,818 per year as of August 2010.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects good job opportunities for all medical and health services managers, including nurse managers. BLS projections suggest that employment in this field will grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Professionals who hold an MSN in Nursing Administration will have excellent career prospects, and can choose from a variety of supervisory roles – including nurse manager.

Start Advancing Your Career Today

Get program guide
YES! Please send me a FREE brochure with course info, pricing and more!