Nursing management

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For information about the journal named Nursing Management, see Nursing Management (journal).

Nursing management is performing leadership functions of governance and decision-making within organizations employing nurses. It includes processes common to all management like planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. It is common for RNs to seek additional education to earn a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice to prepare for leadership roles within nursing. Management positions increasingly require candidates to hold an advanced degree in nursing.



A matron is the senior nurse who serves as "the head of the general staff of the hospital" and is obeyed by his/her subordinate nurses.[1] Traditionally, matrons wear a dark-blue dress, usually darker than her subordinates, also known as sisters, in addition to a white-starched hat.[2] As such, matrons usually "provide strong leadership and act as a link between Board-level nurses and clinical practice."[3] In military hospitals of the United States, matrons were "charged with the responsibility of making twice daily rounds to supervise the [common] nurses' duty performance."[4]

Director of Nursing[edit]

For information about the DON position at a long term care facility, see Director of nursing (long term care facility).

A director of nursing (DON) is a registered nurse who supervises the care of all the patients at a health care facility. The director of nursing is the senior nursing management position in an organization and often holds executive titles like Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), Chief Nurse Executive, or Vice-President of Nursing. They typically report to the CEO or COO.

The American Organization of Nurse Executives is a professional association for directors of nursing.

Service directors[edit]

Many large healthcare organizations also have service directors. These directors have oversight of a particular service within the facility or system (surgical services, women's services, emergency services, critical care services, etc.).

Nurse manager[edit]

The nurse manager is the nurse with management responsibilities of a nursing unit. They typically report to a service director. They have primary responsibilities for staffing, budgeting, and day-to-day operations of the unit.

Charge nurse[edit]

The charge nurse is the nurse, usually assigned for a shift, who is responsible for the immediate functioning of the unit. The charge nurse is responsible for making sure nursing care is delivered safely and that all the patients on the unit are receiving adequate care. They are typically the frontline management in most nursing units. Some charge nurses are permanent members of the nursing management team and are called shift supervisors. The traditional term for a female charge nurse is a nursing sister (or just sister), and this term is still commonly used in some countries (such as the United Kingdom).


  1. ^ Archer, Francis B. (1967-10-20). The Gambia Colony And Protectorate: An Official Handbook. Psychology Press. p. 296. ISBN 9780714611396. Retrieved 26 February 2013. I. The staff of European nurses shall consist of a matron or senior nurse, and such other nurses as may from time to time be appointed. II. The matron shall be the head of the general staff of the hospital, and shall be responsible for the discipline of the institution to the medical officer. III. The other nurses shall obey the orders of the matron or senior nurse, and perform whatever duties she may detail them for in addition to their duties as prescribed by the senior medical officer. 
  2. ^ Fatchett, Anita (2012-04-17). Social Policy for Nurses. Polity. p. 222. ISBN 9780745649207. Retrieved 26 February 2013. The matrons of the past had a very distinctive uniform, usually a dark-blue dress, in a slightly darker hue than that of her direct subordinates (the sisters). She also wore an elaborate, white-starched hat. 
  3. ^ Lees, Liz (2007). Nurse Facilitated Hospital Discharge. M&K Update Ltd. p. 80. ISBN 9781907830129. Retrieved 26 February 2013. There is a clear expectation that matrons will provide strong leadership and act as a link between Board-level nurses and clinical practice. Nurses at Board level have a responsibility to ensure that nursing meets Trust objectives. 
  4. ^ Sarnecky, Mary T. (1999). History of the United States Army Nurse Corps. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780812235029. Retrieved 26 February 2013. The larger military hospitals ideally had a nursing staff that consisted of a matron or head nurse and a number of "common" nurses. The matron was charged with the responsibility of making twice daily rounds to supervise the nurses' duty performance. 

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