Leadership Opportunities in Nursing: How to Become a Nursing Supervisor

You are passionate about nursing and impressed by today’s inspiring health care professionals. You love the idea of supporting and shaping this amazing community. It’s time to develop career plans that align with your shared passions in nursing and leadership.

Opportunities abound, but few health care leadership roles are as accessible or meaningful as the role of nursing supervisor. Keep reading to learn more about this exciting opportunity and what it could mean for your nursing career.

What Is a Nursing Supervisor?

As the job title implies, a nursing supervisor is, simply put, a health care professional who supervises other nurses and clinical workers. Specifically, nursing supervisors provide powerful insight and support for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), offering feedback to help these professionals improve their skills and quality of care.

Nurse Supervisor vs. Nurse Manager

The role of a nursing supervisor is sometimes confused with that of nursing manager, but there are a few noteworthy distinctions: nursing supervisors are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations as they relate to nursing staff, while nursing managers focus more on long-term policies and procedures. Both roles are important, but nursing supervisors can expect to spend more time with individual staff members and their patients.

Nursing Supervisor Responsibilities

Nursing supervisor responsibilities can vary based on the environment and the types of patients cared for, but the role generally involves oversight of the various staff members who deliver clinical care. Most supervisors work closely with nursing aides or assistants, LPNs, and RNs, although their oversight may sometimes also extend to other clinical staff members.

Common nursing supervisor responsibilities include:

  • Facilitating onboarding to help new nurses easily adjust to their roles within the clinical setting.
  • Developing training initiatives that encourage both new and experienced nurses to expand their skill set.
  • Enforcing essential protocols regarding safety, hygiene, and patient care.
  • Monitoring staff scheduling concerns, including vacation time, holidays, and sick leave.
  • Evaluating employee performance and participate in regular performance reviews.
  • Providing disciplinary action when needed but with an emphasis on retraining and reteaching.

How Much Do Nursing Supervisors Make?

Nursing supervisor wages can vary significantly based on factors such as location, experience, and education. In general, this role provides significant pay boosts above and beyond what RNs can earn. Salary details compiled by PayScale reveal hourly wages of $40.51, compared to an hourly $32.91 for RNs.

How to Become a Nursing Supervisor

If you envision a future as a nursing leader but also want to continue working within a clinical environment, you could have the makings of an excellent nursing supervisor. Like any health care specialty, however, it takes years of education and experience to prepare for this demanding role. Follow these steps to prepare for an exciting and fulfilling career:

1. Earn a Nursing Degree from an Accredited Nursing Program

The first step on your path to becoming a nursing supervisor? Earning the right degree. This may not be as straightforward as you assume, however, as there are multiple degree options for becoming an RN, and this extends to manager or supervisor positions.

Increasingly, higher-level roles—especially those involving leadership—are only available to nurses with their bachelor’s degrees, although it is still possible to become an RN after obtaining an associate degree. For the most streamlined path into nursing management, however, it’s in your best interest to seek your BS in Nursing as soon as you determine that you want to take on a leadership role. Be prepared for the possibility that you may eventually need to earn your master’s.

2. Obtain a Nursing License

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a must for working as an RN. This rigorous exam verifies your understanding of critical nursing concepts while allowing you to demonstrate that you are thoroughly prepared for the challenges of nursing. Your degree program will provide valuable preparation, but you will also need to maintain a strict self-study routine that includes practice exams and other resources.

Once you’ve passed the exam, you can seek licensure for the state (or states) in which you plan to practice. Keep in mind that requirements vary from one state to the next. Consult with the relevant boards to ensure that you understand the process and the eligibility standards for the state in question. Be prepared to periodically renew your license.

3. Gain Nursing Experience

A solid academic background is essential, but some lessons are best learned through practical experience. This is where you get a better feel not only for how crucial concepts can be applied, but also, for how the clinical environment functions and which administrative concerns must be addressed behind the scenes.

Initial hands-on experience can be obtained while you’re still enrolled in your nursing degree program. Clinical practicums and laboratory experiences encourage you to practice your skills as you develop sound nursing judgment. Faculty-facilitated care experiences expose you to a variety of settings, so you feel fully prepared to take on the unique challenges of nursing and, eventually, nursing supervision.

4. Attend a Nursing Leadership Program

Once you’ve earned your degree and worked for several years as an RN, you will no doubt boast an impressive breadth of clinical skills—but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be qualified to take on a leadership role. You’ll need extra training to ensure that you are fully prepared for the considerable complications that supervisory roles involve.

The Master of Science in Nursing is one of the most reliable paths to career progression. The Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Administration of Health Care Systems, in particular, encourages you to develop essential leadership skills and apply them in real-world scenarios.

5. Find a Mentor

Mentorship is valuable at every rung on the nursing career ladder, but it is especially important if you want to develop leadership skills and eventually become a nurse supervisor. Additionally, through working with a mentor, you will learn how to be a mentor to others—a role you will almost certainly need to take on when supervising other nurses.

The sooner you find a mentor, the better. Nursing school provides plenty of opportunities to build these powerful connections, although you can also find opportunities within alumni organizations or by getting involved with various professional associations.

6. Get Certified as a Nursing Supervisor

Several certifications will give you an edge as you seek the best nursing supervisor jobs. Which credentials you pursue will largely depend on which degree or degrees you already have, where you’ve acquired experience, and the type of leadership role you hope to take on. Top options include:

Learn More, Today!

Do you envision an impactful future as a nurse supervisor? Your journey begins with a solid foundation, including the intentional development of both clinical and leadership skills. We are happy to help you acquire these as you pursue your nursing degree at Excelsior.

Our nursing program includes an LPN to BS in Nursing bridge, as well as master’s programs in Nursing EducationNursing Informatics, and Nursing Leadership and Administration of Health Care Systems.

We’d love to help you take the next step in your professional journey. Reach out today to learn more about our nursing degree programs and the role they could play in shaping your health care career trajectory.