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Nurse Manager vs. Head Nurse January 4, 2011

Posted by mariemanthey in Leadership.
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been thinking about the title change and its significance. I was active in promoting the change to NM and now wonder about it. In particular, are Nurse Managers still in charge of nursing? Or are they in charge of management? What do you think?   When the title was Head Nurse was the role clearer?  Your  comments, please.


1. Stacey Cropley - January 21, 2011

This is an excellent question! I think it is influenced a great deal by each unique practice environment. However, many of our Nurse Managers are challenged to function in administrative capacities with little to no formal preparatory training as well as maintain a firm control as a working manager at the bedside. Often these two objectives stretch our Nurse Managers thin and increasing burnout. Maybe with a bit more leadership and administrative training our Nurse Managers would be better equipped to balance the competing demands of this position.

Stacey Cropley, MSN RN CPN

mariemanthey - January 21, 2011

Thanks Stacey. I agree re. leadership training and I think we all need to recognize than NM have 24/7 legal responsibility for quality of care which mandates an awareness of patient situations many NM’s do not have today. A truly dangerous situation, in my opinion.

2. Mike Skobba - January 25, 2011

Marie – Thanks for this thought provoking post. It got me thinking about my own position and leadership and I posted this at the MOLN District G blog.

As a ‘patient care manager’, yet another iteration of the title, I must say the title does impact the relationships I have with colleagues. My position is rich with leadership supports and tools that advance my management abilities. Likewise, my colleagues at the bedside are expert nurses who do the heavy and complex work of patient care shift in and shift out 24 / 7 with incredible outcomes.

More and more I have found myself putting forward to all my colleagues that I am first and foremost a nurse at heart. For those who see me as a management leader you should know that this means my value lies in bringing forward the voice of the nurse / patient relationship in light of managements work. For colleagues at the bedside, I am the head nurse. I have shared experiences and stories just like you with patients and families and I willingly stand for our units nursing practice and lead us professionally.

I have appreciated the kick to consider my title. The current complexity of our organizations calls on me to know and develop many connections to meet the needs of patients, staff, and my employer. In each of these connections, I leverage leadership and managment tools to perform my role as head nurse.

How about you ?

3. Heidi Orstad - January 23, 2015

This is a great question.

To be candid, I tend to shy away from my title and consider myself to be one of the “team” simply with a different role. In fact, I believe it is those closest to the patients that are the most instrumental. My job is to facilitate their best work.

I have also been reflecting quite a bit on my recent CHCM readings “relationship based care ” and applying that culture to the relationships I hold with the members of my team (supervisors, nurses and service coordinators).

My experience as a leader is that he better I know each nurse as a person–what intrinsically motivates them as a nurse, learner, team member and employee and what also causes them stress–the better I can serve them as a leader. I came to this “ah-ha” moment with experience…

This “relationship based leadership” is not unlike relationship based care we seek to achieve between nurse / provider and patient. It is really about being present, assuming positive intent, and seeking to understand.


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