There’s no doubt that the healthcare industry is complex with many moving parts. At the heart of keeping healthcare systems operating are clinicians and caregivers, but perhaps the most often overlooked and under-appreciated role is that of the nurse manager. The hard work of nurse managers ensures high standards are met on a daily basis, increases employee and patient satisfaction and, in turn, can help with recruiting and retaining top nursing talent.
Though many great nurses across the country are promoted into the nurse manager role, an amazing nurse doesn’t necessarily make an amazing nurse manager — at least not right off the bat. The duties of a nurse manager aren’t things taught in nursing school, so promoting a nurse into management without proper nurse manager orientation training can backfire. Premature promotion of a nurse to a management position may cause the newly-promoted to feel unsatisfied in their new role — putting the organization at risk of losing top nursing talent.
Challenges Faced by New Nurse Managers
While the responsibilities of a nurse manager vary depending on an organization’s size, the scope of their work is broad and goes well beyond caregiving. Nurse managers have to be aware of the risk of litigation, regulatory and payment rules that affect purchasing, staffing ratio management, employee education and performance initiatives for compliance, clinical documentation, and various types of employment and employee relationships — such as union/non-union employees, clinicians who are not employees but are licensed to practice, per-diem/agency staff employees, and student nurses. Those in a nurse management role often participate in developing policies, making strategic decisions, implementing educational programs, and communicating the organization’s vision within their unit. They must advocate for and empower their staff, allocate resources, and run a safe unit with high productivity levels and satisfied patients.
When nurse managers are hired or promoted they often do receive some level of orientation, however in many cases this training focuses on administrative tasks and falls short of covering the leadership and business skills needed to successfully run a nursing unit. Additionally, traditional nurse orientation and managerial trainings rarely provide a global perspective of the healthcare industry, which would allow your organization to benefit from new practices as trends emerge. Without offering orientation on these more complex concepts, nursing units can suffer through the loss of quality talent due to turnover, the loss of funds through poor management practices and ineffective leadership, or any other number of potential issues that could arise when the proper training has not been provided.
Identifying a Good Nurse Manager Orientation Program
Providing nurse managers with the level of orientation discussed above can sound overwhelming, because adapting or building a new orientation program is time-consuming and costly. These factors coupled with the stress of finding time to schedule different orientations for new nurse managers is more than enough to make you cringe.
One suggestion is to look for an eLearning program that is broken into modules, allowing your nurse managers to work through the program one section at a time. This is especially helpful in units where training may need to be interrupted for short periods of time while the unit is busy. Additionally, look for programs that include CNE credits so your nurse managers won’t need to spend additional time away from their unit achieving their CNE requirements and can focus fully on their expanded role.
For more experienced nurse managers, check out the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ (AACN) Nurse Manager Skills Inventory, which can be used to identify areas for improvement. This will allow their training to be focused to specific areas of need. For up-and-coming nurse managers, or those new to the role, you want to find a program that will cover all the pertinent topics in a way that will not overwhelm the learner.
A program that meets all of these needs, and helps nurse managers prepare for the the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) exam, is AACN’s Essentials of Nurse Manager Orientation (ENMO). Available via the HealthcareSource eLearning Library, ENMO is a comprehensive nurse manager training course which offers learners 40 CNE hours. Developed in partnership with AONE, this online training program was the first of its kind to be created by experts in nurse management to meet the needs of both new and experienced nurse managers to help achieve and maintain success in leadership.
“The nurse manager is the accountable person — 24/7 on the front lines of care with patients and families, with staff and administration,” shares Pamela Klauer Triolo, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Chief Nursing Officer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “It’s difficult to imagine another industry where an entry-level manager has such a large responsibility.”
Are you interested in learning more about the Essentials of Nurse Manager Orientation (ENMO) training course? Download the course datasheet to learn how to help nurses become more effective nurse managers.
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