School nurse Julie Carr works at his desk while demonstrating how the Virtual Clinic works at Crockett High School, in August. The video conference technology allows medical staff and parents a visual conference with the sick or injured student. The Austin Independent School District is working with Seton to expand this program to all schools. (Stephen Spillman / For American-Statesman)
Photo: American-Statesman Staff
Photo: American-Statesman Staff

Could you be a nurse manager? And would you want to?

Management positions usually mean you're movin' on up. But for nurse managers, the milestone is more complex. Sure it involves more money than working as a typical registered nurse, but it also takes leadership skills and may require a move to a metropolitan area to truly thrive.

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Before you leap to conclusions about whether you'd make a great nurse manager or should avoid it at all costs, consider these pros and cons from nursing and employment experts:

Pro: Nurse managers make the (relatively) big bucks.

While they're not among the top seven highest-paying nursing specialties, nurse managers rank just below them; the average nursing manager earns a salary of $84,710, according to PayScale. In comparison, registered nurses make $62,850 average salary.

Con: High salaries may be offset by the high cost of living.

Some of the highest annual mean wages for nurse managers are in states with very high costs of living, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are the top five:

New York $68.77/hour - $143,030

Massachusetts $64.37/hour - $133,900

California $60.47/hour - $125,770

Texas $50.70/hour - $105,450

Pennsylvania $46.78/hour - $97,310

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Pro: The nursing manager job description is varied and fast-paced.

Nursing managers usually work for hospitals or medical clinics, according to PayScale, with the primary goals of making "sure that the nurses working under them provide excellent nursing care. They ensure that their nurses comply with established standards, guidelines, policies, practices, and regulatory requirements. They must be familiar with relevant state and federal guidelines."

But it's not all management. "They also take a step back and work behind-the-scenes to both recruit and supervise nursing staff," according to Best Master of Science in Nursing, "Nursing managers do not just have one specific role. They are primarily responsible for overseeing the staff within the nursing department and retaining the professionals but are also collaborators who will work with physicians and other medical doctors to provide the best care possible. It is not out of the ordinary for the manager to assist patients and their family in certain situations when they are needed or requested. They can also manage the finances within the department, oversee papers and records, and help come up with innovative ideas that will spark change for the better within the organization."

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Con: You'll need a lot of education to do the job.

According to Nurse.org, while all nurse managers are RNs, more often than not in the current economy, they also hold advanced nursing degrees, like a Master's of Science in Nursing. 

In addition, according to Best Master of Science in Nursing, "when you are studying for your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, it is important that you consider minoring in business or healthcare management so that you can attain special administrative and leadership skills."

Pro/con: Nurse managers get to lead.

According to Nurse.org, nurse managers ordinarily work "away from the clinical unit. They attend administrative meetings, work with new employees, and serve on different committees throughout the hospital. A nurse manager can work in a hospital, urgent care clinic, doctor's office, home health care services or a nursing home."

» RELATED: The future of nursing: Where are we now?

Con: Not all nurses have management potential.

When you're daydreaming about nurse management, you may not think beyond the salary or clout of the position. But nurse managers have to be people-oriented and able to "step away from bedside nurses and take on a role that supports the department," according to Nurse.org. It offered this list of mandatory experience and soft skills all nurse managers must possess:

–Good listener

–Clinical expertise

–Flexibility

–Organized

–Analytical

–Problem solver

Pro: Demand for nurse managers will continue to grow quickly.

The demand for all medical and health service manager jobs will continue to thrive, and nurse managers will be right in there with them. In its online Occupational Outlook Handbook, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in these fields at 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, basing its prediction on the super-sized Baby Boomer population aging but staying active during that period.

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