How to: Become a nurse manager or Director of Nursing

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    Looking for advice from nurses who have worked in hospitals for a while. I am currently taking pre-reqs for nursing school. I have a BA with a 3.5 gpa, an MBA and 10 years management experience. I am not pursuing nursing. I looked at doing it years ago, but was discouraged by family members. Now here is my chance. My question is, what does a person need to do/accomplich to be promoted to nurse manager and then to director of nursing. What type of experiences, what departments should they work in. I really want to have a long career in a hospital and grow into leadership positions. What advice can you give? Are nurse managers salaried? What do they make. I live in NC. Thanks!!!
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  4. 7
    I think that a good nurse manager needs to have at least 10 years experience in med/surg staff nursing. Nurses that go straight into management after school tend to not have a realistic appreciation of what it's like to work in the trenches. You also need to have experience in the area of nursing that you end up managing. It wouldn't be a good idea for a nurse from med/surg to try and manage the OR. Just my 2 cents.
    tvccrn, IMABSNRN, Chapis, and 4 others like this.
  5. 3
    I can't think of a time where a non-nurse would be hired as a nursing manager or DON. You say you are in your pre-reqs for nursing school but also say you are not pursuing nursing. Are you saying you're planning to get a nursing degree only so you can get a leadership position in a hospital? Are you saying you are not planning to work as a nurse or that you want to work as a nurse long enough to be promoted to a leadership position?

    Every manager and DON I've known has had lots of experience as a nurse. The managers often have to help out on the floor and should know what to do--they wouldn't know what to do if they hadn't worked as nurses before.

    In nursing school, you'll experience a taste of lots of different types of nursing. Then, you might be able to pick the one you like the best. Then, get experience in it and work up toward a leadership position that way. Managers are generally salaried.

    Hospitals hire non-nurses in non-nursing positions of leadership. You might want to check into that.
    Chapis, NeoNurseTX, and MarathonerPN like this.
  6. 1
    Wow..did I make a big typo..I am pursuing nursing. Going to an ABSN program that requires a 3 year contract as a staff nurse...major oops.
    Chapis likes this.
  7. 0
    Quote from Whispera
    I can't think of a time where a non-nurse would be hired as a nursing manager or DON. You say you are in your pre-reqs for nursing school but also say you are not pursuing nursing. Are you saying you're planning to get a nursing degree only so you can get a leadership position in a hospital? Are you saying you are not planning to work as a nurse or that you want to work as a nurse long enough to be promoted to a leadership position?

    Every manager and DON I've known has had lots of experience as a nurse. The managers often have to help out on the floor and should know what to do--they wouldn't know what to do if they hadn't worked as nurses before.

    In nursing school, you'll experience a taste of lots of different types of nursing. Then, you might be able to pick the one you like the best. Then, get experience in it and work up toward a leadership position that way. Managers are generally salaried.

    Hospitals hire non-nurses in non-nursing positions of leadership. You might want to check into that.
    AMEN!
  8. 2
    Experience, experience, experience! It is nice that you have a MBA, but you need clinical experience to make judgement calls on the floor.

    FYI: Director of Nursing is a title usually used in the long-term care setting...again experience is a must as well and I highly recommend MDS knowledge...another gem you don't learn in school...
    Chapis and Otessa like this.
  9. 0
    OK I'll bite here. Please forgive my sarcasm ahead of time.

    So you want to be a nurse manager......
    Well having an MBA is a step in the right direction. You will obviously need an RN degree too. But aside from that after maybe a year or two working as a nurse, to become a director or manager, you'll need nice clothing and shoes (perhaps something that looks good w/ a labcoat), be able to be proficient w/ a blackberry, love to attend many meetings where little is accomplished.You must surround yourself with competent middle managers who will never question your decisions and act as a buffer between you and the staff. Some experience with customer satisfaction and basically sell out your department and staff in favour of pleasing administration. Some places even give you a bonus if you make your yearly budget.
    In reality (although i don't think I'm too far off in my above paragraph), nursing management is all about the bottom line, mainly fiscally. There are interesting politics that go on in a healthcare setting, different than your normal stuff that goes on any other type of business realm.
    Having been in a management role, it is soooo frustrating at times dealing with incompetence and mainly the lack of management to understand or grasp what goes on "in the real world" of nursing.
    I'm serious about lots of meetings and listening to every whim of administration. Some departments at larger facilities even hire non RN people w/ MBA to be directors of departments. They mainly focus on the business aspect of running a department.
    Good luck, it is a really great field to get into in all reality!
  10. 1
    Thanks for everyone's response. I miscommunicated. I am in the process of taking pre-reqs for an ABSN program that starts in 6 months. I do plan on being a staff nurse at a hospital and I hope to have long career in nursing. Sorry, my post was confusing!
    Chapis likes this.
  11. 0
    You may need to go back to school for your BSN at some point. In my area, many employers require a BSN education. That BA would not be good enough. Don't know if the MBA would be enough along with that ADN, though.

    Agree w/ PP that you will need to gain some clinical experience before you can move up.

    Good luck to you.

  12. 0
    I have a cousin with an MBA who got a nursing degree specifically to get into hospital administration so it's not that uncommon. He did his first year on the floor and ended up being recruited by a pharmaceutical company however, so he is not doing what he set out to do, but he does make a TON of money!


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