Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


'Managing is nursing too - so let's celebrate the diversity of the profession'


Increasingly, we are observing the nursing role being misunderstood and diminished.

When the prime minister or the health secretary declare that nursing should be about getting back to its roots, about hands-on care and to dispense with the paperwork - how does that make nurse managers feel?

These managers are nurses too, and yet unless they are actually washing a patient or giving out drugs, they are not regarded as such by the wider public, or the government so it seems.

Good nursing requires good leadership and management, and that requires a degree of planning. And that means spending time with a computer as well as a catheter.

If nurses think about their next move and it is upward or more deskbound, they are seen as “bad” because the perception is that they will be doing less patient care and are shunning the very essence of nursing, the core of their job. Nursing is a lot more complex than that.

Nurses say that they choose to enter the profession to make a difference - to patients, to carers and to relatives. The communication skills, the attention to detail, the empathy and compassion don’t go away. And nurse managers and leaders can impart their unique brand of those skills to a wider group of staff if they take a management role.

It’s time we gave all nurses a break. And enabled them to have careers, to diversify and to make choices that suit their skillset best. In what other profession is it considered that promotion and progression diminishes you? It does not make you less of a nurse.

One of the things that is appealing about nursing is the diversity it offers - yes the chance to spend time looking after patients, but also to specialise in a clinical area, to go into research, to work in academia, to work in primary care, independently in the community or on an acute hospital ward to help treat physical and mental wellbeing. And indeed, to work in management.

Everyone should celebrate all that nursing is and not just accept the somewhat restricted perception of it which is portrayed in the media.

Denying nurses a chance to assume other roles will just deter people from entering the profession, or send those who have the skills already into the arms of another career.

Nursing doesn’t need to get back to its roots - it needs to flourish, and show off its beauty and all that it can be. Only then will it become attractive to those who are considering it as a career, and will be better understood by the wider public.


Readers' comments (20)

  • Well said Jenni. There are so many negative comments about nurse managers on this website and it's really frustrating to see.
    Why shouldn't we want to challenge ourselves, and progress in terms of responsibility as well as pay? Why does that make us any less caring? By moving up the bands it becomes easier to actually influence wider care decisions, which is a wonderful feeling when, yes, you still care about the patients, even if you don't see them so often.
    Nursing is about team work, and every team needs a good leader. We should be pleased with colleagues' successes rather than slag them off, and work together as a team to improve the conditions of our work for both our patients and ourselves.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • good article and good first comment. such information as this, which nurses know already, should be published where it will reach a wider readership as the role (or many roles , should I say) of nurses are so little understood and so misjudged.

    without good managers in possession of good organisational skills, an ability to coordinate the work of those on the front line and without experience to pass on and no understanding of the multiple roles of nursing consistent high standards of bedside care for the number of patients looked after every day would not be possible.

    Nurse managers, like other nurses, are sentient human beings with their strengths, weaknesses and unique set of attributes and are only able to work within the limitations of the resources made available to them.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anon 2.56
    I have never had a senior manager come and co-ordinate the care performed on the front-line in my life, and I would challenge any of them to swapping places with a newly qualified staff nurse. Care is provided in spite of the managers, not because of them. The nurse-in-charge does that, the deputy director of nursing cares for a desk and their next promotion.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Also, consistent care is not provided by managers, unless you mean that by cutting posts and services provided it is consistently worsening. The motto seems to be I'll leave you naked so I can clothe someone else.
    Ward management is different, you interact with patients and staff constantly, get above that, and it's suddenly seems to be too demeaning to stand with the proles. How many times have I seen a nurse with more seniority than the matron on my unit in the last 15 years? Two. Only because we had local celebrities in and they were reminding us not to give any details out over the phone. Thanks for that lesson on confidentiality, like we write to the local paper about all our patients.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The negativity in these comments is NO surprise to me but come on people, would you rather have nurses or non-nurses managing services? Of course you get good and bad leaders, just as you get good and bad nurses, and I have worked with both. The good ones DO fight for the patients and their staff and but have to do so against a rising tide of demands from above and below. Yes, of course they don't always get it right but who's perfect? Nurses seem exceptional at accusing their senior colleagues of intrinsically changing, ceasing to care about people and swiftly adopt the one-size-fits-all tar brush of 'it's the management' to explain away any decision they don't like (and I was guilty of this myself when I was less experienced). Doctors don't seem to have this ugly habit of eating their young as soon as they climb up the ladder. Managers need a degree of distance to be able to do their jobs properly, and they have to make decisions which upset people whether they like it or not. They are not there to be front line grafters (although of course the odd few hours with their sleeves rolled up makes a world of difference to people at the coal face).
    And by the way, I'm not a manager, I'm an educator. Not quite on the dark side ;)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • redpaddys12 | 30-Jul-2012 10:48 pm
    redpaddys12 | 30-Jul-2012 10:58 pm

    Very sad to read.

    It is absolutely essential that nurses are at the heart of this at a management level otherwise, believe it or not, things could be a whole lot worse. Not just for nurses, but for the patients we care so passionately about.

    How about stopping for a moment to think about the wider picture and trying to understand just what a hard job our nurse managers have, particularly those at the very top of our organisations at this financially constrained and challenging time.

    This might not matter to you now, when dealing with the challenges facing you on your unit, but it would soon matter to you if they were not there.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Alison Taylor | 31-Jul-2012 3:45 pm

    It is interesting that there is a distinct multi-perspective flavour to your comment, and that you describe yourself as an educator - the absence of consideration of a problem 'in the round' is something easy to see, in many posts on this site.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Though the NHS has a largely female workforce. It is very macho in it's attitudes. No matter how difficult life becomes, how much strain we are subjected to. We are pushed on to do ever more. We on the wards are ignored. We get no say! I regularly have to do without a drink, sometimes I don't even get to visit the W.C during my shifts. When this situation improves, managers will get a better deal.

    I don't reserve my anger towards the very top managers. Many ward managers are totally unfit for the job also. Having worked with nurse leaders from other countries. I fully realise how bad you guys are. The fact is, nurse education is quite poor here. I often wonder what the criterior for promotion is. I suspect, mainly being a smoking buddy.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Many "Senior" nurses should by know be the subject of a NMC FtP hearing.

    It is these nurse "leaders", in reality sycophants of the Trust Chief Executive, who have presided over the dilution of skill mix and the reduction of overall RN numbers.

    When as a direct result of their actions things go wrong guess who carries the can ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am not sure what this article is really about. Of course nurses must get back to the "roots", that is what nursing is. Fine if people want to go into management, but this is not nursing per se. We all have choices in whatever career we pursue, so it is rather patronising to assume a particular stance, when you are not at the bedside.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.