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A Nurse’s Survival Guide to Leadership and Management on the Ward, second edition

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Title: A Nurse’s Survival Guide to Leadership and Management on the Ward, 2nd edition

Author: Jenny Thomas

Publisher: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier

Reviewer: Barbara O’Donnell, senior ODP, Whittington Health

What was it like?

Being a nurse manager may be said to be a daunting experience. Healthcare practitioners appointed to these posts will often have extensive clinical experience, and often some experience of tasks such as writing the rota, ordering and deputising for the manager in their absence. However, the scale of the nurse managers’ task; encompassing these tasks amongst other others, while working to a budget, and bringing all these differing tasks along at the same time, requires planning, organisation and something a little bit extra.

Written from the perspective of an experienced nurse and ward manager, this is a realistic guide to what will be expected of any clinical manager who leads a team and manages a ward/unit. In addition to her clinical and academic experience, Thomas has management experience at varying levels, learned on the floor through trial and error. There are many textbooks available on leadership in nursing, but few that take the practical approach outlined here. She specifically avoids management theories, in favour of both the background information and day to day processes required to successfully run a clinical area.

Thomas is clear about the distinction between, and importance of, the nurse and nurse manager, and the nurse manager’s accountability for patient-centred care, as well as the need to cast a wide net in decision making processes. She cites current examples in practice e.g Mid-Staffordshire (this book was published prior to the Francis Report). This second edition includes a new chapter on quality and safety – learning from mistakes and being open about them.

What were the highlights? 

Advice is included about managing oneself as well as the external activities required of a nurse manger and this is presented in a helpful way, as a theme throughout the book.

Strengths & weaknesses:

The depth and scope of this compact text is considerable. It covers everything from patient-centred care to budget to dealing with difficult staff and situations; while taking into account current healthcare priorities and difficulties.

The text is well referenced and website addresses are given for further information.

Experienced staff may find some of the text a little obvious, as much common sense is evident. However, this common sense, clearly based on the author’s experience; applied to the various situations outlined, is a winning formula.

Its portability makes it easy to read through, but equally useful for reference purposes. The only problem might be that this makes it easy to lose!

Who should read it?

Band 6 staff preparing for Band 7 roles, nursing or allied health professionals. Band 7 staff may find this text useful for reference or ensuring they are on track. The content may be applied to the management of different clinical units. This book is based mainly on the NHS structural framework, but may be equally useful for those working in the private sector.


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