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What Does It Take to Become a Unit Manager?

What Does It Take to Become a Unit Manager?

You have worked hard and dedicated time and energy to your career as a nurse, and you have positioned yourself for more responsibility in a leadership position. It could be time for you to consider pursuing opportunities as a unit manager or head nurse. But first, you need to understand this position and how to secure it.

Definition and Responsibilities

A nurse in this position typically managers other nurses and employees on a specific work unit. The unit manager ranks higher than staff nurses on the organizational chart, and their responsibilities are more extensive. They include hiring; managing and supervising staff; developing and managing budgets; leading teams; and communicating with patients, physicians and staff members at all levels in the organization. Nurses in this advanced position also implement various procedures and policies for the units they oversee. In addition to these duties, they may also provide direct patient care.

How to Become a Head Nurse

You need to accomplish certain goals before you are ready to pursue a head nursing position. Typically you need at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, preferably from an accredited program — many employers only hire nurses with a degree from an accredited program. A master’s degree is even better.

You also need between three and five years of professional nursing experience.

Certain traits are necessary to qualify for a management level nursing position:

  • Leadership.
  • Objectivity.
  • Compassion.
  • Clarity.
  • Organization.

If you are interested in advancing your career as a nurse, cultivate these abilities, accrue the experience you need, and pursue additional education to prepare yourself for the role.

Learn more about the UT Arlington online RN to BSN program.


Health eCareers: Qualities desired in a head nurse

Head Nurse Salaries

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