How much experience does your manager/assistant manager have?

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AceOfHearts<3

AceOfHearts<3

Specializes in Critical care. 916 Posts

The good managers and assistant managers I’ve worked with have all had experience working on the type of unit they are managing. I think it’s important that when crap hits the fan they are able to jump in and help. 
 

I had a couple managers on a tele unit. One wasn’t very good and the other was excellent. The excellent one was actually brand new to management, but had TONS of experience working the floor. She would jump in when things went south, but she would also help if the unit was just crazy busy (saw her helping with a bed bath one day). You really felt like she had your back in all situations and not just when a patient was going south. 
 

I’m in critical care now and all my managers also have a lot of experience. It means when things are going south in the ICU, whether it be a code, super unstable patient just arrived, pt bleeding out and mass transfusion protocol initiated, etc. they are fully competent ICU nurses that step in and help. I couldn’t imagine someone running my unit without extensive bedside experience in the ICU. I think it’s needed to really understand how the unit runs, what we need, protocols and procedures, etc.

I don’t know that there is any magic number and I think it will vary based on the person and unit, but I do think they should have more than just a couple of years experience. I also recognize that some people no matter how much experience they have should never be in that position. 

7 hours ago, RNNPICU said:

I don't think an exact number of years, as others have stated, equate to being a better manager.

Management is a skill, just like IV starts, blood draws, etc... Some people have it and are able to have a mindset of how to juggle a unit in a much broader perspective. Two years of work as a nurse definitely gives you an idea of the needs of a nurse providing direct patient care. 

I think, my own opinion, that having a nurse in a management position that worked the unit they were on could lead to bias and sometimes favoritism. Sometimes having someone on the outside could bring in some fresh new ideas versus a manager who has 6 years experience on the same unit and may be afraid to try new things because "that's not how it is done on our unit".

I applaud anyone who wants to go and become a manager. It is definitely a skill that not everone has,

I also believe hiring from the same floor can create some animosity or petty conflict. One of my managers came from a different health network completely and the other manager was hired from my floor. I don’t think there was really any hostility towards the one hired from my floor. 
Management is definitely not for everyone; no matter what career you have. I still think the 2 years is quite fresh, but again, my opinion is diddly squat. 5 years seems more and more like what I’d be comfortable with now that I’ve been thinking about it. ?‍♀️ But honestly, I know it truly doesn’t matter because management positions will continue to be filled with people who have the correct credentials to fill them; regardless of experience and/or time as a nurse. 
Thanks for your reply!

3 hours ago, AceOfHearts<3 said:

The good managers and assistant managers I’ve worked with have all had experience working on the type of unit they are managing. I think it’s important that when crap hits the fan they are able to jump in and help. 
 

I had a couple managers on a tele unit. One wasn’t very good and the other was excellent. The excellent one was actually brand new to management, but had TONS of experience working the floor. She would jump in when things went south, but she would also help if the unit was just crazy busy (saw her helping with a bed bath one day). You really felt like she had your back in all situations and not just when a patient was going south. 
 

I’m in critical care now and all my managers also have a lot of experience. It means when things are going south in the ICU, whether it be a code, super unstable patient just arrived, pt bleeding out and mass transfusion protocol initiated, etc. they are fully competent ICU nurses that step in and help. I couldn’t imagine someone running my unit without extensive bedside experience in the ICU. I think it’s needed to really understand how the unit runs, what we need, protocols and procedures, etc.

I don’t know that there is any magic number and I think it will vary based on the person and unit, but I do think they should have more than just a couple of years experience. I also recognize that some people no matter how much experience they have should never be in that position. 

Thank you, thank you! That’s kind of my point!.. The manager should have the same experience of what the bedside nurse may run into or else how can you relate to them? 
 

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 10 years experience. 3,108 Posts

We just got a new manager and she has over 20 years of experience from being a volunteer in high school to CNA, floor nurse, clinical team lead then manager at rehab and then manager in ortho at one of our smaller sister hospitals. She is AMAZING!!! Really knows what it is like and is very pro-nurse. The one we had before was all about climbing the ladder to get to an upper management position. She was unique. ?

I think 2.5 years would be tough to get respect from veteran nurses. 

HiddencatBSN

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Specializes in Peds ED. Has 11 years experience. 594 Posts

My current manager has 5 years of nursing experience. He's fantastic, a big advocate for our unit. Our assistant manager kinda suuuuuuucks and IDK. I think minimal RN experience but several years as an LPN. She's clearly in management to be in management. Our manager seems more invested in supporting the unit.

I think motivations and leadership ability matter more than years on the ground. What's their motivation? To be in charge or to give the unit the resources it needs to work well? I've worked with some very experienced nurses who I don't think would make good managers. *I* certainly have zero interest in that role. One of my favorite charge nurses is fairly new but has good leadership skills and handles the unit really well.

2.5 years seems slim but I don't think my manager had much more experience when he started as the ANM.

erniefu

erniefu, BSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. 40 Posts

I think that having experience with the patient population is important in managing the unit. A manager should have knowledge about the kind of patients coming to the unit, when to use authority to push patients out or keep patients and to manage expectations between staff, patients and executives. Bad managers don't get what is happening on the unit and can't get the resources from the executives (whether it be PPE, new bladder scanner etc). Nurses don't have to like managers, but nurses need to respect the manager to get things done. Some units may need less years to know the unit while it could take years to a decade to understand units like PACU, ICU and ER.

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 7 years experience. 1,010 Posts

I had 3 years rehab/long term care experience before I became unit manager and it seems to have been fine.  Throw me into an acute care setting, though, and I’d be lost

TheMoonisMyLantern

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 15 years experience. 1 Article; 922 Posts

I had one director on a psych unit I worked on that had over 20 years of high level management experience, she was highly educated and had very impressive credentials, but very limited experience providing patient care. Because of this I think she had a hard time relating to the everyday problems and concerns that our staff had and she instituted many unpopular policy decisions that were so incompatible with our unit that staff members who had been there for decades and were close to retirement were retiring early and other long term employees were resigning left and right. I lost respect for her when we experienced a critical staffing shortage one night, we didn't have enough 1:1's, patient's having multiple restraint episodes, multiple call ins, etc. She was the "administrator on call" the house supervisor called her and requested that she either find people to come in or for her to come in herself and help with q15minute rounds on one of the units, her response was that she "Didn't feel comfortable doing rounds." and she never came in that night nor did she ever find help for us. Now, q15minute safety rounds are arguably one of the most important things we do in psych as it's how we account for each patient's safety and status. That being said, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do them, yet she couldn't even be bothered for that. 

Long story short, while I've seen managers with limited bedside experience do well and lead effectively, I think in a lot of cases the more time you're away from the bedside the less able you are to relate to those that are there. And if you only have a couple years experience, it doesn't take long before your another bean counting cool aide drinking manager who doesn't feel comfortably with even basic tasks.

RNgrayvoyager

RNgrayvoyager

Has 8 years experience. 2 Posts

Hi,

I’m a Nurse Manager with little direct experience in my specialty but a lot of leadership experience in my pre-nursing field. IMO, nursing leadership does not have to correlate to hands-on clinical expertise. Nursing educators, clinical leaders, etc are responsible for staying on top of evidence-based best practices and developing strong clinical training programs. Nurse managers, in my experience, are called upon first and foremost to promote patient safety by ensuring best practices are followed, making sure the front line team (everyone, not just the nurses) feels supported and engaged, and by being a strong and diplomatic liaison to providers and administrators. I tell my team all the time that THEY are the experts in our specialty, but it’s my job to make sure they have the tools and practice environment to provide the best possible patient care. When everyone is held to the same high standards of behavior and patient care processes, when the physicians and providers are engaged, when administration invests in the right resources, and when you have clinical experts available to make sure the team is well trained - that’s when you create the best possible environment to provide outstanding patient care. I could have 40 years of hands-on experience and still not be an expert, because our care models evolve as evidence becomes available. It’s my job as a Nurse Manager to advocate for all the things I listed above, to be a good steward of hospital resources, to make sure everyone on my team is treated fairly without favoritism or bias, and to to make sure our patients get the best possible care. A strong nurse who is a bad manager can wreck a team and contribute to unsafe conditions for patient care, but a strong leader can help create a department where people want to work and where patients and families feel like they’re in good hands, regardless of their personal level of clinical competence. 
Edit to add that I will jump in to help with patient care whenever I can safely do so. I can’t do everything that the more experienced nurses on my team can do, but I can absolutely transport a patient, start an IV, go to lab or pharmacy, or clean a patient. I’m not going to let anyone drown, or hide behind a desk. 

Edited by RNgrayvoyager

LibraNurse27

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 9 years experience. 972 Posts

1 hour ago, RNgrayvoyager said:

 
Edit to add that I will jump in to help with patient care whenever I can safely do so. I can’t do everything that the more experienced nurses on my team can do, but I can absolutely transport a patient, start an IV, go to lab or pharmacy, or clean a patient. I’m not going to let anyone drown, or hide behind a desk. 

I think it's good for a manager to have the direct experience, but I'd MUCH rather have a manager who does these things than someone with tons of experience who has distanced themself from the front line and doesn't accept input or the concerns of staff. Transporting, going to lab and pharmacy, cleaning, all those things can save time on a busy day and I would be so grateful for that help! Little things can make a big difference on a crazy day. Thanks for sharing this and for helping and appreciating your staff ? 

cecile9155

cecile9155, BSN, RN

Specializes in Skilled Rehab Nurse. Has 6 years experience. 89 Posts

My DON has 9 months of floor experience.  My nurse manager I think has less.