Years ago I worked with a nurse manager who was happy to tell her staff that their standards were too high. She rarely ventured onto the wards where standards of care were a problem. Wearing a suit and managing with extremely long arms from an office several floors away from her wards meant she rarely saw a patient let alone what was happening behind the curtains.
Can you manage nurses if you don’t actually nurse?
The recommendations of the Francis report suggest nurse managers need to be more clinically involved. But we have created a system that undermines the value of clinical care. Career progression with higher status and salaries takes our most able nurses away from the bedside. This creates barriers between clinical nurses and nurses who don’t nurse. Nurses commenting on this website appear to have little regard for their managers because in their eyes they lack clinical credibility.
Perhaps, on this issue, we can learn something from medicine. Doctors place great value on clinical skill and expertise. Doctors in management positions practise medicine and also go to meetings. Medical directors look after patients. So when they talk about medical issues they are informed by first-hand experience, who can argue with that?
Sadly, walking wards and spending time with staff once a month or even once a week does not equate with being a clinical expert.
It would be great if nurse managers carried a clinical caseload but how would it work in practice? I am interested to hear your views.