female nurse manager

Ensuring Success in Health Care: How to Become a Manager in Nursing

While approximately 3.9 million nurses and midwives work in the U.S., the country will need roughly 1 million more nurses to address its health care needs by 2020, according to the World Health Statistics Report. Along with expected growth in nurse employment rates, numbers of nurse managers must grow to lead this pool of employees.

As health care becomes increasingly complex—with new medical technologies and aging baby boomers needing more care—leaders in the field realize the importance of the nurse manager’s role in the clinical and financial aspects of the health care system. Educating and training nurse managers are crucial aspects of an overall health care staffing plan.

Notes chief nursing officer of Munster, Indiana’s Community Hospital, Ronda J. McKay, in HealthLeaders, “[Nurse managers] are critical to the mission of the organization. We need to make sure that they are competent to do the job that they’re put in charge to do.” Interested in leading a team of nurses and participating in the future of health care?  Here is important information on how to become a nurse manager.

What Does a Nurse Manager Do?

Nursing supervisory positions include nurse leaders and nurse managers. Nurse leaders, whose titles are often officers, vice presidents, or directors, are responsible for achieving a health care facility’s mission. Closely involved with executing a facility’s annual goals, they often help develop new ideas that play a role in patient care standards and costs.

Typically reporting to a nurse leader, the nurse manager is involved in the basic details of administrating a department, from ensuring that nurses properly fulfill patient needs to creating staff work and time-off schedules so nurses meet all standards of care. Persons in this position can mentor and train other health care professionals, serve as an “ambassador” for a health care institution at meetings, and work on patient billing. Managers in nursing, who often have the title of clinical nurse manager or nurse administrator, play an active, hands-on role in their health facility. Involved in building staff morale and customer satisfaction, they must possess communication and problem-solving skills to both verbalize and resolve staff and patient challenges and concerns.

Nurse managers serve as the bridge between administration and direct patient care. According to the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the three competencies of the nurse manager job are:

  • Science: Skills in human resources, budget forecasting, information technology and project management.
  • Leadership: Skills in staff leadership and ethical behavior as well as involvement in professional associations, etc.
  • Art: Skills in staff development and conflict management in addition to encouraging diversity and fairness.

What Does a Nurse Manager Do in a Specific Field?

Informatics, education and health care system are three important fields requiring good nurse managers. Nursing informatics combines nursing’s clinical aspects with computer and information sciences. Nurses in this field have varying titles such as clinical analyst, informatics nurse specialist, director of clinical informatics, or clinical informatics coordinator. They work with computer systems, analyzing and processing patient data, and meeting with the facility’s IT department.

Nursing educators usually enter academia after several years of extensive clinical experience. Possessing advanced degrees, they can teach courses, develop lesson plans, evaluate educational programs, and oversee nursing students’ clinical practices.

A nurse manager with an MSN degree in Health care Systems Leadership is intrinsically involved with the business and operational aspects of a healthcare facility, which can include responsibilities for human resources, finance, and business management. 

Currently, the annual nursing manager salary ranges from $60,000 to $114,000. According to Payscale, the average salary for a nurse administrator is $85,582; for a career in nursing informatics, $84,498; and for nurse educators, $73,812.

Take the Steps to Become a Nurse Manager

To train as a nurse manager, you must begin with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and possess an active license as an RN. Next, you can obtain an MSN with a concentration in health care systems leadership, nursing education, or nursing informatics at Norwich University. These programs offer opportunities for individuals to learn how to shape future health policy, educate a new generation of nurses, and more. The degree program—taught by doctoral faculty—prepares participants for the National League for Nursing Nurse Educator Certification Exam (for the Nurse Educator track) and the ANCC Informatics Nursing Certification Exam (for the Nursing Informatics track).

Recently, Norwich University achieved a top 25 ranking in the list of “Best Value Schools” from U.S. News & World Report based on a high academic quality and a low net cost of attendance.

To qualify for admission at Norwich University, you must have a(n):

  • Bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Active RN license
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Undergraduate courses in statistics and research

No GRE or GMAT requirements! Your online program begins with core courses that includes mentored clinical practice and experiential learning. Students also choose a specialized track.  

Working as an RN provides valuable hands-on experience when pursuing a nurse manager role. Whether working in a hospital, nursing home or other facility, nurses benefit from taking on management tasks as they pursue advanced positions. Work experience also helps nurses develop superior communication and leadership abilities, which are key qualities in a good nurse manager.

Learn More

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nurse managers is excellent, with employment of medical and health services managers projected to grow 20% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Since 1819, Norwich University continues to maintain a leadership role in innovative education. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow students to make a positive impact in their workplaces and communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program helps students obtain the knowledge and skills to hold positions in nursing informatics, health care systems leadership, and nursing education. The program develops students who take a leadership role in shaping health care policy, educating other nurses and health care professionals, and providing advanced care to patients. Norwich’s online nursing program curriculum is based on the guidelines outlined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


Recommended Readings

How to Become a Nurse Educator: Leading the Next Generation of Nurses

5 Leadership Styles for Clinical Nurse Leaders  

Six Nurse Leadership Opportunities for Master of Science in Nursing Graduates


Nursing Shortage, National Center for Biotechnology Information

The U.S. is Running Out of Nurses, The Atlantic

Investing in Nurse Management Development Pays Off, HealthLeaders

Nurse Manager vs. Nurse Leader, Norwich University

Nurse Manager Competencies, The American Organization of Nurse Executives

Average Nursing Manager Salary, PayScale

Average Registered Nurse (RN) Hourly Pay, PayScale

Medical and Health Services Manager, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Best Colleges Rankings, Norwich University, U.S. News and World Report