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3 Challenging Positions In Nurse Management



Nurse management can be one of the most rewarding career goals for a registered nurse (RN). In addition to an increase in pay, nurses employed in management careers use their leadership skills to supervise all nursing activities within a health care facility.

Because the role involves health, staff, and business management, careers in nursing management can be as challenging as they are rewarding. A closer look at some of the most challenging nurse management positions can help nurses learn more about the role of leadership in these dynamic and take-charge careers.

Director of Nursing

A director of nursing supervises and directs all nursing departments and service lines of a health care facility. These professionals work with other top-level medical staff to develop and execute changes that help departments run more effectively. Directors of the nursing manage lower-level hospital staff, develop new programs and services, and direct department meetings and training.

These professionals are often heavily involved in overall service evaluation and nursing departmental goals for the health care organization. A director of nursing must have excellent knowledge of hospitals and health care environments, work well in collaborative projects, and function well under pressure.

Individuals interested in becoming directors of nursing must obtain RN licensure and a master’s in nursing (MSN). Many graduate nursing programs offer a joint management degree or an MSN in Nursing Administration. Some directors of nursing go on to earn doctorate degrees in nursing or become chief nursing officers (CNO), which is the highest-ranking management nurse in a given health organization.

Nursing Manager

Nursing managers direct the daily activities of an entire nursing unit. These professionals direct all components that allow nursing units to run successfully, including patient care, quality of service, business and financial responsibility, nursing department growth, and staffing.

Nursing managers have the authority to hire new nursing staff and make performance evaluations. Because nursing units are open around the clock, a nursing manager must have the dedication and stamina to work in this challenging position. Nursing managers must work well with patients in order to ensure service quality, and these professionals must also be good leaders who boost staff performance and morale.

Nursing managers must also be financially savvy to ensure that the unit is making the most of its financial resources. To become a nursing manager, a nurse must have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, RN licensure, and national certification in nursing management.

Supervisors and Assistant Nursing Managers

Supervisors and assistant nursing managers oversee the day to day performance of a department section or service line. These professionals work with the nursing manager in order to ensure that individual nursing lines run smoothly.

Front line supervision requires dynamic individuals who can respond to patient needs and provide expert clinical knowledge. Nurses pursuing leadership positions usually begin in this role, which requires two to three years of experience in the field. The position also requires assistant managers to serve as on-call resources for clinical or patient questions.

To become an assistant nursing manager, a candidate must have RN licensure, clinical knowledge, and relevant experience in the field.


Nursing leadership can be one of the most rewarding parts of a nurse management career. Take-charge individuals with the energy and knowledge required can use their skills to make their nursing department a success.