As the healthcare industry in the United States evolves, professional demands on the nation’s three million nurses become more complex. Technological advances in medical equipment, increased demand for care and treatment from an aging population are just two issues that nurses must navigate as they occupy the front lines of the healthcare industry.
As the industry becomes more complex, nurse supervisors face new challenges, too. In addition to the traditional role as a shift supervisor at a hospital or a nursing manager in a physician’s office, a nurse supervisor in today’s world must juggle concepts as varied as healthcare policy, nursing theory, information technology, leadership, problem-solving, human resource management and much more.
Even as the job has become more demanding, it has become more important. Nurses depend on their supervisors to lead them into the next era of healthcare, and healthcare executives rely on nurse managers to deliver on goals for health outcomes and the business side of healthcare.
While almost every nursing job that includes a management role these days requires – at minimum – a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), many healthcare hiring agents have begun to include the stipulation that a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is “preferred.”
Further academic differentiation is available in the form of a 100% online dual MSN/MBA degree through Jacksonville University’s Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences.
Job Duties of a Nurse Supervisor
The first duty of any nurse is to provide care and comfort to patients. This remains the case no matter how far up the corporate ladder a nurse supervisor climbs.
Yet, in addition to caregiving responsibilities, a nurse supervisor is expected to be a leader, a manager, a decision maker, a communicator, a conflict resolver and a crisis manager.
While a job description for a nurse supervisor will differ based on the healthcare organization and the specific department, there are several duties that most, if not all, nursing managers are expected to perform. These might include:
- Creating work schedules and caregiving protocols
- Making sure all nurses follow accepted organizational procedures
- Managing finances and payroll
- Improving operational efficiency as it relates to health outcomes
- Ensuring legal and regulatory compliance
- Creating and monitoring budgets, spending and other funding-related responsibilities
- Recording, keeping and storing organizational records
- Representing the organization at conferences and annual meetings of a board of governors or shareholders
- Creating and updating job descriptions and making hiring decisions
The duties will vary for hospital workers, surgical nurse managers, nursing home administrators, clinical managers, emergency services managers, nurse educators and the many other nursing specialties.
Nurse Supervisor Job Growth Projections
Nurse supervisor falls under the category of medical and health services managers on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook. According to the BLS, there were 346,980 medical and health services managers in the U.S. as of May 2017.
BLS data reported there were 116,940 managers at hospitals; 40,490 at physician offices; 24,880 at outpatient care centers; 22,670 at nursing care facilities; and 20,020 working in home health care services.
While highly populated California, New York, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania are home to the most healthcare managers (113,600 – nearly one-third of the national total), none of those large states break the national top 10 for healthcare managers per 1,000 people.
Here are the 10 states that have more than three healthcare managers per 1,000 residents, according to data from the BLS:
- Iowa (4.1 per 1,000)
- Oklahoma (3.95)
- Massachusetts (3.90)
- Maryland (3.83)
- Arkansas (3.63)
- Tennessee (3.30)
- Connecticut (3.29)
- Rhode Island (3.14)
- Maine (3.07)
- Arizona (3.0)
According to the BLS, medical and healthcare manager jobs are projected to increase by 20% between 2016 and 2026, when the number is expected to jump to 424,300 nationwide. The favorable job conditions for nurse supervisors will be enhanced because of increasing demand and a rising rate of attrition as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age.
Nurse Supervisor Salary Data
According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for medical and health services managers as of May 2017 was $111,680. It was more for those at hospitals, $120,540, and lowest for those in home health services at $99,220.
The San Francisco metropolitan area featured the highest-paid medical managers as of May 2017, with an annual mean wage of $159,250. The Vallejo, Calif., region, located northeast of San Francisco, was second at $153,680. Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties were third at $151,660.
Salary and job market conditions vary by region, so all candidates are encouraged to conduct independent research.
How to Become a Nurse Supervisor
In many organizations, a nurse supervisor is expected to be a licensed registered nurse (RN) with several years of clinical experience and at least some managerial experience. If the supervisory role involves a certain specialty, the nurse supervisor will be expected to possess deep knowledge of the theory involved with that specialty.
In some organizations, a nurse supervisor might rise through the managerial ranks as a health information technician or a medical records specialist.
While the BLS projects favorable job growth for nurse supervisor positions in the coming years, competition for positions also will increased. According to the BLS, “Candidates with a master’s degree in health administration or a related field, as well as knowledge of healthcare IT systems, will likely have the best prospects.”