Nurse Manager Responsibilities: How an MSN Can Prepare You

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Master of Science in Nursing

Smiling nurse leader with tablet in front of her healthcare team.Nurse managers play an important role in healthcare delivery. In addition to hiring RNs and building teams designed to function as a cohesive unit, these professionals ensure their departments operate at optimal levels. They also make sure their departments maintain compliance with federal regulations, such as HIPAA, and that healthcare delivery standards are met.

Licensed RNs who are interested in taking their career to the next level and find themselves drawn toward managerial and leadership roles are likely to find the nurse manager career path aligns well with their professional goals.

Nurses seeking to advance to supervisory roles can start by obtaining the education, skills, and leadership acumen to be successful. Completing an advanced nursing degree, such as an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), can prepare graduates with the competencies to grow as a person, care provider, and manager.

What Is the Role of the Nurse Manager?

Nurse manager responsibilities include all tasks related to overseeing RN staff at their facility. In addition to ensuring care delivery goals are met, nurse managers onboard and train staff, manage the nursing department budget, monitor levels of various resources such as medical supplies, gloves, and masks, and order replacement supplies as needed.

Although the exact duties of a nurse manager can vary depending on the facility and the size of the RN staff they oversee, other important nurse manager responsibilities may include the following.

  • Setting departmental work schedules
  • Disciplining RN staff
  • Evaluating RNs’ job performance and providing coaching as needed
  • Providing support to RNs, patients and patient’s families as needed
  • Responding to inquiries from other department heads
  • Making budgetary decisions
  • Answering patients’ questions
  • Providing information to the healthcare team, including doctors and in some cases, surgical staff, as needed
  • Ensuring staff are compliant with state and federal legal and regulatory standards

Nurse managers work full-time, on-site at a variety of medical and healthcare facilities, such as long-term care facilities, hospice care centers, hospitals, surgical clinics, group medical practices, and rehabilitation centers, among others.

Although some professionals in this role may work Monday through Friday during standard business hours, nurse managers employed by facilities that provide 24-hour care may need to work nights, weekends, holidays, and on-call shifts.

Benefits of Earning an MSN Degree for Nurse Managers

Aspiring nurse managers are likely to find completing an advanced education, such as earning an online MSN, can help them develop the leadership, communication and interpersonal skills to carry out nurse manager responsibilities.

Not only can completing an MSN degree help fortify the clinical experience necessary to become leaders in nursing, but MSN programs typically also offer coursework in leadership and management, including evidence-based nursing practice and policy development, healthcare finance and budgeting, and business operations, among others. This well-rounded education can help students understand both general managerial practices and healthcare operations.

Upon completion of their degree, graduates often find they’ve developed a foundational understanding of how staffing, business, and finance work together to improve patient outcomes.

Nurse Manager Salary and Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have a standalone category for nurse managers; professionals working in this role fall within the blanket category of medical and health services managers.

As of May 2021 the median annual wage for medical and health services managers, including nurse managers, was $101,340, however, earners in the top 10th percentile reported annual earnings of more than $205,620, according to the BLS.

Salary ranges for nurse managers vary based on a variety of factors, such as an individual’s experience level, the geographical region in which they work, and the facility they work for. For example, the BLS reports that as of May 2021 the median annual wages for medical and health services managers, including nurse managers, working at state, local, and private hospitals was $119,450. The median annual wage for these positions in nursing and residential care facilities was recorded at $83,550.

The job outlook for this career path is also favorable, as the BLS reports employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow by 28% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than what’s projected for the U.S. job market as a whole. Approximately 56,000 openings are expected to become available each year, on average.

Become a Nurse Manager

Nurse managers play an important role in collaborating with other executives, identifying problems and proposing solutions, and promoting positive change in their facilities. As healthcare delivery systems become more complex, the need for experienced, qualified nurse leaders with management skills will continue to expand.

Professionals interested in gaining the knowledge and expertise to become nurse executives and take on nurse manager responsibilities are likely to find that Duquesne University’s online MSN degree program can prepare them with the business acumen to improve patient outcomes and effect transformative change. Are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level? Discover how the Duquesne University online Master of Science in Nursing program and its Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management concentration can prepare you for the next step on your professional journey.

Recommended Readings

What Makes an Effective Nurse Manager?

Role of the Nursing Supervisor in Hospital Settings

Nurse Managers and the Four Phases of Work Acclimation


Houston Chronicle, “The Qualities of a Nurse Manager”

Indeed, Nurse Manager Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Indeed, 7 Examples of Nurse Manager Skills and Their Definitions

Nurses PRN, Challenges in Nursing: How to Overcome Them

Payscale, Average Nurse Manager Salary

Relias, “Nursing Leadership: What Is It and Why Is It Important?”

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers