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Nurse Managers: What They Do and How To Build A Relationship

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Nurse Managers: What Do They Do and How Can You Build A Good Relationship

Nurse managers are sometimes villainized for pushing rules and procedures that from the bedside seem arbitrary. Many nurses do not have a good understanding of the reasons behind the actions of their nurse manager. 

Additionally, the average nurse does not have a relationship with their nurse manager outside of annual reviews and asking for PTO. This is even more common for night shift nurses since management is typically gone by the time they even come in. 

However, it can help to understand what nurse managers have on their plates and build a good relationship with them so that you can respond accordingly during your shift.

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Responsibilities of Nurse Managers 

  • Scheduling 
  • Discrepancies 
  • Incident Reports
  • Hiring and Firing
  • Administration Meetings
  • Goal Tracking
  • Unit Budget
  • Ensure Patient and Staff Satisfaction
  • Maintaining safety
  • Annual Reviews
  • Resource Planning and Inventory
  • Initiating Education and Profession Development
  • Compliance With Regulation
  • Managing Staff
  • Mediate Disputes

Now, this seems like a long list, and it is! Of course, this is only the beginning. In every job, things come up daily that you have to handle as well. Let’s go over some of these in more detail. 

First, scheduling. Scheduling may seem like it is accessible on the surface; however, we challenge you to think about the difficulty of scheduling for nurses. 

Here are some things they have to work around when scheduling: if they are short-staffed, time off that their staff needs, number of patients each day, the severity of the patients, skills of each staff nurse, night and day shift, 24 hours to cover. That is a lot of factors to work around, especially when developing a schedule well in advance and involving 20+ people. 

Another significant part of their job that not everyone understands is the relationship nurse managers have with hospital administration. It is the nurse manager’s job to bring the hospital’s goals and translate them into their unit. 

This is probably the most challenging part of their job because since they are the only ones attending these administration meetings, no one else understands the pressure of often translating financial and satisfaction goals to the bedside. 

So when they come to these huddles with their staff nurses and impose new rules that seemingly make no sense, it is really because they sit in meetings every day with top executives, who have no bedside experience and are the ones making plans. Your nurse manager is simply the messenger. Don’t shoot the messenger. 

This just scratches the surface of what nurse managers do. So what you can do to help? Build a good relationship with them. 

How To Build A Good Relationship With Your Nurse Manager

Building a good relationship with your nurse manager can help ease workplace tension and benefit both staff and management. Let’s talk about some tips to make a good relationship with your nurse manager. 

  • Do what you can to help them. This means requesting your time off as far as you know in advance, following measures put into place the best you can, and anything else that comes up. 
  • Communicate! Your nurse managers are human, too. Be open and honest with them when you need something. Communicate your needs and ask them what you can do to help. 
  • Ask for meetings. If you have some things to discuss, ask for a meeting to sit down with them. This is especially important if you are a nightshift nurse. 
  • Try to get to know them. Ask about their family and bring up their hobbies. Like the rest of your coworkers, your nurse manager has a life outside of work. Building this connection can go a long way whenever trouble arises.
Nurse Managers: What Do They Do and How Can You Build A Good Relationship

At the end of the day, keep in mind that your nurse manager doesn’t have to be villainized. You can have a symbiotic relationship with your nurse manager that is beneficial to both parties. When this happens, it makes the workplace easier for everyone.

Do you have a good relationship with your nurse manager? What has your experience been?

Katelyn Johnson

Katelyn Johnson


Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.


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