Challenges of a First-Line Nurse Manager


First-line nurse managers are the link between nursing staff and hospital administration. They are responsible for carrying out the hospital's mission and making sure the nurses do their jobs well. First-line nurses also maintain legal, regulatory, budgetary and safety standards in their units. Nurse management careers have challenges, but can be an important and rewarding vocation.

Leading the Way

  • Motivating staff and inspiring professional excellence are part of a first-line nurse manager's leadership responsibilities. The nursing staff relies on the manager for guidance in team building, meeting goals and effective decision-making. Leadership challenges face first-line nurse managers every day, so these skills are crucial for anyone considering a nurse management career.

Knowing When to Delegate

  • Leading is key, but so is knowing when to delegate tasks to others. First-line nurses cannot do it all. They must practice critical thinking in deciding how, what and to whom to delegate. However, there are laws regarding appropriate delegation. Each state has their own standards, a copy of which is available from the state's nursing board. Delegation decisions can change on a case-by-case basis.

Staying Up-to-Date

  • Juggling many logistical concerns--the unit's budget, meeting hospital documentation and regulation requirements, the legal and ethical aspects of health care--is a basic challenge of the first-line nurse's role. Staying organized requires constant upkeep of such items, and continuing education regarding new developments in the field.

Managing Conflict

  • Negotiating and managing conflicts--whether between patients, nurses, other hospital personnel, or administration--demands a first-line nurse's skill and attention. In the moment of conflict, first-line nurses help diffuse or resolve the situation. After the conflict passes, they review how the situation arose and how to avoid it in the future.

Remembering the Patient

  • Focusing on patients' needs, first-line nurses decide how their unit will deliver care. They ensure that those decisions are implemented smoothly and effectively. They may also participate in policy decisions regarding the hospital's definition of quality care.

Resting & Relaxing

  • Finding time to relax, rest and rejuvenate can be a challenge in itself for first-line nurses. But it's crucial to do so, because these nurses are pivotal to the unit's accomplishments. Staff nurses, administrators and patients are depending on them. Figuring out how to make the role sustainable is a key component of a first-line nurse manager's success.

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