Nurse First, Manager Second
Being a nursing manager these days, people automatically assume means being dressed in a suit with a lab coat, rarely venturing out to patient care areas and a having a nice big office. The biggest complaint that I hear is that managers forget about being nurses and are not clinically involved and lack clinical credibility.
Reality check. I manage an extremely busy pre-operative day surgery facility. We do as many as 74 cases a day, which includes surgical and endoscopy patients. My job is to manage staff, patients and the daily schedule. Being a nurse for 21 years and having a diverse background in nursing has helped me become a manager and still be a nurse first.
Yes, you will see me behind a patient's curtain wearing scrubs, clogs and carrying a stethoscope around my neck and having daily patient clinical case load along with my staff. Some days it becomes very challenging, especially those days when there is a full schedule. As a nurse manager I feel left out at times, staff can see you as the enemy and do not appreciate your work. Being a leader, I must remind myself I'm always under the microscope. I personally struggle with this and I'm afraid it will ruin me. One certain rule that I have learned throughout the years is that it can be lonely at the top.
Years of working alongside with other nurses and sharing their lives, successes and failures create a strong bond with your staff. I encourage my nurses to communicate their concerns, frustrations and empower them to participate in decision making, giving a sense of ownership and autonomy. This allows my nurses to become united, working as a team instead of creating a competitive atmosphere.
Managing means being able to manage people. Being a nurse manager requires nursing skills and managing skills and being good at both things. A highly experienced and trained nurse does not suddenly become a competent manger, likewise an experienced manager from another area would need time to develop nursing skills.
Being a competent manager is being able to utilize the skills that are learned and using the resources at hand to deliver a service that is required. Great managers have to be creative and able to see tiny details as well as the broader perspective, easily approachable, accessible and empathetic to their staff.
I believe that being a nurse manager is a unique skill. It has been one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences in my career. I have challenged myself and developed knowledge. Having insight in what I need to do in a day to day basis in a wide range of areas and circumstances has made me become a successful nurse manager.