Not all nurses are the same in the healthcare industry, and not all nursing jobs are the same. Some nurses work in nursing homes, others in doctors’ offices and some find themselves in emergency rooms or on ambulances.

Some nurses supervise other nurses as they do their duties, including administering medications to patients, assisting with checkups and more. Being a nurse supervisor can be challenging, but it’s also one of the most rewarding positions within the nursing profession.

Supervising nurses allows you to share your expertise and experience with younger colleagues while making important decisions impacting the practice’s day-to-day operations.

So, what does it mean to be a nurse supervisor exactly? And what are some of the top responsibilities you should expect to take on as one? Read on to find out.

What is a nurse supervisor?

Nurse supervisors are in charge of managing and overseeing the care that registered nurses provide. They also serve as the liaison between patients, doctors and other health professionals to ensure that the hospital environment is safe and provides patient comfort.

In addition, they typically oversee the daily operations of their organization by performing administrative duties such as preparing budgets and assisting with quality assurance activities. 

To be considered for this position, applicants must have earned an Associate’s degree or higher from an accredited nursing program and passed their state exam. For instance, you can enroll in a Spring Arbor University RN to BSN online program, which offers flexible learning times to fit the needs of busy nurses.

The program is 100% online, enabling students to work on coursework any time during the day. This course will allow you to advance your career through instruction on topics such as leadership theory, management skills and research-based practice management.

The top eight responsibilities of a nurse supervisor

If you are interested in taking on leadership roles in the nursing field, becoming a nurse supervisor may be the way to go.

Nursing supervisors perform all the same duties as regular nurses, but they have additional responsibilities that set them apart from others. 

For example, they may be required to coach and mentor new employees, develop job descriptions and track employee performance. Here are the top eight responsibilities of a nurse supervisor:

Maintaining and managing clinical competencies of nursing staff

Nurse supervisors ensure that the nursing staff’s clinical competencies are maintained. This role involves ongoing training, development, evaluation and documentation.

They must ensure that all clinical competencies are up to date, including knowledge, skills, qualifications and other requirements. In addition to clinical competencies, nurse supervisors also have an essential role in managing healthcare staff performance issues, such as disruptive behaviors or poor attendance.

These can be some of the most challenging conversations nurses have with their coworkers. The process must be handled tactfully, with empathy and support from managers at every level.

A nursing supervisor must evaluate whether the issue is a one-time occurrence or recurring behavior. If it is recurring behavior, they should discuss how they will handle this moving forward while still supporting staff as they work through their challenges.

Providing orientation and training

Nurse supervisors are responsible for the orientation and training of new employees during the onboarding process. Once they have completed their orientation, they can take care of any patient needs during their shift.

They will also train other nurses on how to care for patients. For example, the nurse supervisor will decide what nursing staff should do in the event that an equipment shortage or an emergency requires additional staff.

The supervisor must ensure that all staff members are adequately trained in their designated roles so that each person has enough knowledge to do their job effectively. When there is an emergency, they must take charge and ensure nursing staff takes the appropriate actions to handle it.

Managing employee relations

Nurse supervisors oversee the day-to-day operations of an entire nursing staff. They ensure that the institution meets all patients’ needs and that the team is healthy, well-rested and working effectively.

Nurse supervisors also manage employee relations by handling disciplinary issues, hiring new staff members and coaching employees on improving their skills. For instance, nurse supervisors are required to act as mediators if there is a conflict between two employees.

They should speak with each party separately and devise a compromise or resolution that will benefit everyone involved in the conflict. These actions ensure that the hospital can meet patient demand while maintaining standards of care.

In addition, they set expectations for nurses regarding behaviors and performance, so they know what they need to do to succeed within the organization.

Supporting administration and policy adherence

Administration and policy adherence refer to the enforcement of hospital policies and procedures. The nurse supervisor is in charge of documenting deviations from the standard protocols to ensure there is no increased risk of patient harm.

Nurse supervisors ensure that nurses follow the policies and procedures, especially if they differ from the standard practice. They achieve this by providing orientation for new staff members, updating staff on any changes to policies or procedures and providing educational opportunities for ongoing education. 

Other duties include ensuring there are no lapses in communication, assisting with scheduling, approving leave requests and handling disciplinary issues. Supervisors must keep up with current research developments to incorporate best practices into nursing care delivery.

Monitoring and reviewing performance improvement activities

When it comes to staff management, performance improvement is essential. As a nurse supervisor, you must monitor and review all team members’ progress toward their personal goals.

If employees do not achieve the goals set out for them, they will likely lose their job to preserve the rest of the team’s success. Your role as a supervisor includes empowering employees and providing them with every opportunity possible for professional growth and development.

You can achieve this by providing the necessary tools and resources to help them succeed. It’s vital to communicate clearly what is expected from each individual, so that nobody feels overwhelmed or inadequate.

In addition to monitoring each nurses’ progress, you’ll also need to provide feedback on their performance and any adjustments they may need to make.

Ensuring efficient department or shift operations

Nurse supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the daily operations of their department or shift run smoothly. One way to do this is by delegating tasks, such as patient care and medication distribution, to staff members.

In addition to managing staff to maintain the safety and well-being of patients, nurse supervisors also oversee record keeping and ensure compliance with regulations. They often participate in developing policies, procedures and guidelines to promote consistency across departments.  

For example, they may write new protocols for patient care or infection control. Nurse supervisors should find solutions to problems as they arise. Often, there will be issues in which they need to reach out to other departments for help.

When situations become tense or heated, they must know how and when to de-escalate them so as not to upset the balance of the workplace environment.

Ensuring patient care

A nurse supervisor oversees the care that nursing staff provide to patients. They are responsible for ensuring that staff are providing high-quality, compassionate care. To ensure they are doing their jobs, they need to ensure nurses follow proper procedures and provide quality care.

A nurse supervisor must ensure that the staff nurses have the support and training to do this job well. For instance, if a nurse struggles with administering medication properly, the supervisor would need to step in and demonstrate how it should be done.

The role of the nursing supervisor can also include conducting educational programs with nurses or other health care professionals.

For example, in the event of an emergency, such as an influenza outbreak, the supervisor may need to provide additional guidance and resources to staff, so they know how best to protect themselves from illness.

Recruiting facility staff

Part of the nurse supervisor’s responsibility is to ensure that the number of staff working at the facility is adequate at all times. To combat staff shortages, one of the main tasks to be performed is recruitment.

In some healthcare centers, this responsibility may fall to a nurse supervisor or another designated person. Nurse supervisors must constantly monitor staffing levels and fill any staffing gaps with qualified applicants.

They also need to be able to evaluate an applicant’s qualifications and determine their compatibility with the position they are applying for. The final decision on whether to hire an applicant frequently rests on the shoulders of the nurse supervisor.

Wrapping up

A nurse supervisor is responsible for the overall supervision and management of nursing personnel and activities. To be a nurse supervisor, you must be knowledgeable about nursing and healthcare policies and an expert on advanced medical procedures.

You must have excellent communication skills, patience, empathy and leadership qualities. Additionally, you should have strong interpersonal skills to develop good relationships with others in your workplace and to ensure that everyone feels valued and important.

Overall, being a nurse supervisor can be very rewarding because it allows one to lead a team of qualified individuals who take pride in their work.