While it may seem that the terms "nurse manager" and "nurse leader" might be interchangeable, there are differences between the two. First, it's important to delineate the difference between "nurse leader" and "clinical nurse leader." A nurse leader may be any nurse who demonstrates strong leadership skills, motivating others and working to promote improvement in their care area. However, clinical nurse leaders are formally recognized as those who strive to improve patient care outcomes for a specific patient population.

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So how does this differ from a nurse manager? Clinical nurse leaders focus more on patient care as opposed to managerial or administrative tasks. They work with the entire care team to evaluate patient care and stay up to date on evidence-based research to implement in their work environment to improve patient care outcomes. They also serve as clinical educators, teaching staff various concepts from workflow changes to the proper use of equipment.

Nurse managers are responsible for the daily operations of a department or care area. They provide direct supervision to staff and deal with personnel matters such as daily staffing, hiring, discipline, and performance reviews for their staff. They are also responsible for cost management and budgeting. Sometimes, nurse managers are also needed for service recovery when patients are upset or have a complaint about a staff member. They do not usually have direct patient care responsibilities, but this may vary depending on the organization.

Whether a formal nurse leader or nurse manager, or even a staff nurse with leadership qualities, forward-thinkers are always needed in healthcare. Nursing is a great field as there are many opportunities to grow and practice as a leader.

Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

Amanda Bucceri Androus is a Registered Nurse from Sacramento, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She began her career working night shifts on a pediatric/ med-surg unit for six years, later transferring to a telemetry unit where she worked for four more years. She currently works as a charge nurse in a busy outpatient primary care department. In her spare time she likes to read, travel, write, and spend time with her husband and two children.
Amanda Bucceri Androus RN, BSN

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