If you’re like other students considering a career in nursing, you’ve probably wondered how to become a nurse manager. Do you need to take classes in business or organizational leadership? Will you have to earn a master’s degree? Nurse management is a diverse field, so the answer to these questions is “it depends.”
First Steps to Becoming a Nurse Manager
Nurse managers occupy a unique rung in the healthcare leader, because you can’t simply go to school to become a nurse manager. Instead, you must first earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and get your nursing license. After you’ve worked on the front lines for a few years, you can start applying for leadership positions. You’ll have better chances if you occasionally work as a charge nurse, meaning you take on some of the administrative duties of a nurse manager while still taking care of patients. Experience as a preceptor, or a nurse who trains students completing clinical hours, will also improve your resume. If you want to maximize your chances of promotion to a nurse management role, though, you should consider taking business classes. Accounting, leadership, and management classes can fulfill elective requirements and give you a leg up in your career progression.
Can You Take Online Classes to Be a Nurse Manager?
Colleges and universities understand that nurses are working professionals with long hours and unpredictable schedules. For this reason, online nursing programs are common and respected. Whether you’re just starting your nursing education or looking to improve your knowledge, you can find convenient classes you can complete at your own pace. If you know you want to work in management, consider taking business or healthcare administration electives. You can even earn a Master of Nursing in Healthcare Administration (an MHN) or, for a broader perspective, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) online. Many nurse managers hold Master’s in Business Administration (MBAs) with a focus on healthcare. Any of these advanced degrees can prepare you for a role as a nurse manager. Your hospital might even offer a tuition reimbursement program to encourage you to improve your education and become a stronger employee.
Nurse Managers Are Innovators
As a nurse manager, you’ll need to motivate staff, implement budgets, and perform other traditional business tasks. However, you’ll also be a leader in the healthcare field, and that means prioritizing patient safety. A great way to get noticed by hospital administration is creating a new device or policy to lower patient readmission, or reduce staff and patient injuries, according to the Modesto Bee. Consider taking courses in engineering and creative thinking to help yourself stand out, and don’t be afraid to advocate for systematic changes in your hospital. Nurse managers should be innovate thinkers who can encourage staff nurses to improve healthcare delivery.
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Unlike bedside nursing, which requires specific classes and licensure, there’s no one path to nurse management. Consider your own strengths. Are you business savvy? Are you constantly thinking of ways to improve hospital policy? Do you motivate your coworkers to perform better? Consider these strengths to figure out which educational options you should pursue to become a nurse manager.