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The Top 6 Leadership Skills to Advance Your Nurse Manager Career

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If you have your sights set on becoming a nurse manager, you’re pursuing a worthwhile goal. As is the case with almost every nursing position, the job outlook over the next decade for this role is favorable, with an estimated 32% growth rate.

However, it takes more than a strong desire to pursue a nurse manager role. Even if registered nurses (RNs) have years of experience working in the field, they may hit a career roadblock if they do not hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Therefore, if you want to take your career to the next level, it’s time to seriously consider earning a BSN.

Why a BSN Opens Multiple Doors of Opportunity

There are multiple reasons a BSN provides greater opportunities within the nursing field. First, an increasing number of employers prefer BSN-prepared nurses on their staff. Some even require it.

For example, Magnet-designated hospitals — considered the “gold standard” for nursing practice and innovation — require their higher-tier RNs to hold a BSN degree. This status ensures these facilities meet all the standards of excellence put forth by the Magnet Recognition Program.

That said, earning a BSN is not only about being more “hirable.” The skills RNs learn throughout their BSN education prepare them to be better nurses and better leaders.

Essential Talents Nurse Managers Need to Succeed

Nurse managers who are good at their job possess the foundational skills needed to fulfill the role. However, those who are great at their jobs take those baseline skills and enhance them. High-performing nurse managers go beyond logistical elements like creating shift schedules or monitoring budgets. The following represents some of the essential talents nurse managers need:

  • Information Management

Patient care is rooted in the human element. Yet, nurse managers can use technology and data to inform critical decision-making processes. The RN to BSN online program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) dedicates an entire course to information management, focusing on patient advocacy and improving health outcomes.

2) Leadership

Leaders are not lone advisors at the top of a team pyramid. To be effective leaders, nurse managers must be fluid, no matter where they work. UAH’s program covers its bases in this regard, exploring culturally diverse healthcare systems. The Leadership in Professional Practice course also prepares nurses to promote excellence in professionalism and lead change and innovation.

3) Evidence-Based Practice Know-How

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is not just a concept; it is patient care in action. defines it as “a conscientious, problem-solving approach to clinical practice that incorporates the best evidence from well-designed studies, patient values and preferences, and a clinician’s expertise in making decisions about a patient’s care.” The UAH course on EBP explores research techniques, methodologies and ethical concerns in the industry. It trains RNs to use electronic databases to facilitate the acquisition of current data.

4) Time Management/Organization

To say healthcare environments are “fast-paced” would be an understatement. Therefore, nurse managers’ organizational and time management skills are of utmost importance. They not only need to monitor their own workload; they’re also responsible for attending to nurses in their charges, as well as patients. The more organized nurse managers are, the smoother the days will go.

5) Emotional Intelligence

Leading a team can seem largely “by the book.” But, it’s crucial to pick up on what nurses under one’s charge are thinking and feeling. Nursing is often a high-stress environment. In order to safeguard the physical, mental and emotional health of their team members, nurse managers need to analyze and interpret the situation when something is awry and then respond accordingly. This agility applies to patient interactions as well.

6) Effective Communication

Being an efficient leader doesn’t necessarily make someone an effective leader. Nurse managers might be able to tick all the boxes on their list, but if they’re not able to communicate with their team, patients and upper-level administrators, they will struggle to achieve true excellence. A companion to emotional intelligence, nonverbal communication is a component of nurse managers’ success.

There Is No Limit to What a BSN Can Do for Your Career

There are instances when nurse managers can “get by” with the basic skills required of the job, but by earning a BSN and leveling up your knowledge, skill sets and experience, there are no limits to your leadership potential.

Learn more about The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s online RN to BSN program.

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