How to Train Effective Nurse Managers

A nurse checking in with his nurse manager in the hallway of a hospital.

Nurse managers are similar to the conductor of an orchestra. They lead their nurses and staff to perform as one, in harmony, setting the tempo to ensure the unit runs seamlessly and within budget to meet the needs of your patients and organization.

By supporting their training, you can help your managers perform their job smoothly and expertly, just as a symphony. To assist you, we’ll review their role and responsibilities and provide efficient ways to train them in their role.

Nurse Manager Roles and Responsibilities

The role of a nursing manager is multidimensional. They serve as a clinical leader of their staff, administrator to their upper management, and liaison between the two groups so they may work in harmony to meet your organization’s mission and goals. They’re pivotal to the successful operation of their department or unit.

A manager’s background should include, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree, two or more years of clinical experience, key leadership traits, and essential management skills. Their responsibilities typically encompass but are not limited to the following:

  • overseeing daily operations
  • hiring and retaining staff
  • assuring quality outcomes are achieved
  • creating and maintaining departmental budgets
  • cultivating healthy work environments

Effective Nurse Manager Training

In this section, you’ll learn key elements to include when training your nurse managers to be effective in their roles. Whether your nursing leaders are novices or experienced, they’ll require professional development throughout their careers to remain competent, productive, and perform at the highest level. Investing in their education will improve their skill set and further enhance their value to your organization.

1. Leadership Toolkit

Good training begins by equipping your nurse leader with the tools to succeed. Ensure they understand their job description and meet with them regularly so they feel engaged and assured. Maintain an open-door policy, encouraging your managers to discuss their ideas, questions, and concerns with you. Determine their strengths and weaknesses to help them build successes and make improvements.

In addition, provide your leaders with mentors they can lean on to aid them in strategizing solutions for problems commonly encountered in their job. Also, consider sponsoring their certification training and costs for Certified Nurse Manager and Leader or Nurse Executive board certification once they gain the necessary experience.

2. Human Resources (HR) Management

Legal liability is intrinsic to managing a nursing staff and department that provides care to residents or patients. Without understanding government rules and laws, your nurse managers can potentially be walking a legal tightrope without even realizing it. The best way to mitigate this risk is to provide your manager with HR training, through your internal department or an external class, that addresses the following needs:

  • resident and patient safety
  • federal and state regulations compliance
  • compensation and benefits
  • training and development
  • labor relations, unemployment, dismissal, or termination
  • equal employment opportunity and affirmative action
  • workplace culture, accountability and fairness, and cultural diversity

3. Financial Management

For your nursing management team to meet or improve your organization’s bottom line, they require sound financial skills. This includes understanding and applying general principles such as budgeting, purchasing supplies, reimbursement models, and staff forecasting. With the high costs of staffing and nursing turnover, reinforcing this essential skill set can help avoid any budget mishaps.

The American Organization of Nursing Leadership (AONL) has developed a finance and business skills education program for managers. This program helps your manager build the financial skills necessary for responsible leadership in healthcare.

4. Quality and Safety

Nurse managers can significantly influence healthcare quality measures, patient experience and outcomes, and nurse job satisfaction and retention. You can improve your Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ratings by training your leaders in quality improvement and safety, which in part determines your score.

Encouraging your manager’s interpersonal skills and allowing them to set a healthy tone for their department cultivates a positive environment. Backing their policy implementation against incivility, bullying, and harassment goes a long way to help protect your staff in feeling secure within your organization. For more ideas on creating a safe, empowering, and satisfying workplace, you can direct your leaders to resources available through the American Nurses Association (ANA).

5. Leadership

Influential managers understand, inspire, lead, and advocate for their teams. Nurse manager training in leadership is essential to their role. They need to communicate well, be confident in providing daily decisions and guidance, feel comfortable resolving conflicts with patients and among staff, and be adept with change management given the constant fluctuations in healthcare.

Nurturing a nursing leader does not happen overnight. Leadership, like the other skills discussed, will take time and experience to flourish. The ANA and AONL provide education and training to help your leaders excel and be effective in their management roles.

Want More Resources to Support Your Nurse Leaders?

Effective nurse managers are a highly sought after asset due to their unique combination of education, experience, and leadership qualities. It’s understandable that your facility would want to encourage, protect, and retain them. Learn ways to support your director of nursing, build a nurse management team, fix short staffing, and much more in our free newsletter.