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5 Things Every RN Should Know About Being a Supervisor

Career News September 9, 2013

Being an RN supervisor—also known as a nurse manager—is an exciting job that requires multi-faceted management and organizational skills. Supervisors are in charge of overseeing all of a department’s nursing employees, which may include advanced practice nurse, registered nurse and non-certified nursing assistant LPN employees.

These professionals often have a variety of other duties, including nurse recruitment, professional training, employee retention, evaluations and other operational concerns. Any RNs or other nursing professionals who are considering a career as a supervisor should consider the following advice.

Communication

Most nurses are already adept at accurately gathering, processing and passing along large amounts of information to patients, other nurses and doctors on a daily basis. For nurse supervisors, honing strong communication abilities is even more important because nurse supervisors often work with a larger pool of people.

As American Nurse Today notes, nurse supervisors can provide a line of communication between staff members and the upper management team in a hospital or healthcare facility. They may also have direct interactions with patients, family members of patients, pharmacists, social workers, lab technicians, administrative staff, nutritionists, educators and a variety of other people who may interact with patients and staff members. Nurse supervisors must be well versed at adeptly communicating complex information to people with a wide variety of experience and expertise levels.

Success

In addition to relaying feedback and important information to staff members, nurse supervisors are most effective when they are invested in the success of their staff members. A nurse supervisor will have an insightful, overarching view of how well his or her nursing staff is performing, putting supervisors in the perfect position to detect what processes and practices aren’t working, and develop ways to improve them.

RN supervisors often develop, implement or arrange for professional and personal development opportunities for their staff members. Supervisors may also implement team-building exercises, lateral violence training, conflict resolution processes and other approaches that can set the tone for a positive workplace.

Motivation

Beyond providing nurses with the tools for success, nurse supervisors can also be sources of encouragement and motivation for nursing staffs. With fatigue, burnout and many of the other problems nurses frequently encounter, nurse supervisors can provide listening ears and resources to any members of the staff who need assistance.

Advocacy

According to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, advocacy is another important area in which nurse supervisors should contribute. The journal notes that nurse managers can help advocate for their staff members by allowing the staff to contribute and give feedback on higher-level decisions. Not only does this approach to leadership help ensure that multiple voices are heard and incorporated, but it can increase workplace morale.

Often, nurse supervisors play important roles in budgetary matters and higher-level organizational decisions about resources. These discussions about resources and budget concerns can have significant effects on nursing staff members. Nurse supervisors shouldn’t be afraid to advocate for their staff members to receive a fair share of resources, particularly if it can help improve their job performances.

Becoming a Nurse Supervisor

Nurse supervisors need to hold nursing degrees as well as nursing certifications. For many management positions, employers will also require nurses to have graduate level degrees in hospital administration, nursing or other relevant subjects. Some nurse supervisors have also passed certification exams that cover subjects such as management skills, finance, technology, performance improvement and other topics, in order to receive their certificates in nurse management.

In addition to education requirements and recommendations, prospective nurse supervisors should also have several years of nursing experience along with demonstrated leadership, communication, organization and motivational skills.
Working as a nurse supervisor gives experienced nurses the opportunity to take their skill sets to exciting new levels. Nurse supervisors hold influential positions that allow them to improve the flow of processes, foster positive environments for staff members, serve as sources of motivation and contribute to the overall success of their workplaces.

Nurses who are interested in advancing to the role of RN supervise should pursue any educational steps their workplace may require. More importantly, they should continually demonstrate their willingness and ability to serve these significant functions.

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