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Nursing Supervisor vs. Nurse Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Nursing supervisors and nurse managers are both important roles in the nursing field. Both positions are responsible for leading and managing a team of nurses, but there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences between nursing supervisors and nurse managers, and we provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in nursing management.

What is a Nursing Supervisor?

Nursing Supervisors are responsible for leading and managing a team of nurses in a healthcare facility. They develop schedules, assign tasks and shifts, and oversee the daily operations of the nursing staff. Nursing Supervisors work closely with the facility’s administration to ensure that the nursing staff is meeting the facility’s standards and providing high-quality patient care. They also develop and implement nursing policies and procedures, and serve as a resource for the nursing staff on clinical issues. Nursing Supervisors typically have several years of nursing experience, and may be certified in a specialty area of nursing.

What is a Nurse Manager?

Nurse Managers are responsible for the overall management and operation of a nursing unit within a hospital or other healthcare facility. They collaborate with other members of the healthcare team to ensure that high-quality patient care is provided. Nurse Managers develop staffing schedules, oversee budgeting and finances, and implement policies and procedures. They also conduct performance reviews, hire and train staff, and provide mentorship and guidance to nurses. In addition, Nurse Managers work to resolve conflict and build morale within the nursing unit.

Nursing Supervisor vs. Nurse Manager

Here are the main differences between a nursing supervisor and a nurse manager.

Job Duties

Nursing supervisors and nurse managers share some of the same job duties, such as creating work schedules, assigning nurses to different patients and providing patient care. However, nursing supervisors typically focus more on ensuring that the nursing department functions efficiently, while nurse managers often oversee multiple departments within a healthcare facility.

Other job duties that nursing supervisors may perform include conducting staff meetings, developing policies and procedures for the nursing department and evaluating the performance of nursing staff. In contrast, nurse managers may oversee how other departments, such as medical or records, collaborate with the nursing department to provide optimal patient care. They may also conduct managerial trainings for nursing staff members.

Job Requirements

Nursing supervisors and nurse managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing to enter the field. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree, but it is not always required. In addition to their educational requirements, nursing supervisors and nurse managers must also have several years of experience working as a registered nurse (RN). Many professionals in these roles start out as RNs before moving into management positions.

Work Environment

Nursing supervisors and nurse managers work in different environments. A nursing supervisor typically works in a hospital setting, where they oversee the nurses who care for patients. They may also work in other healthcare facilities, such as doctor’s offices or assisted living homes.

Nurse managers usually work in hospitals, but some may work in outpatient clinics or private practices. They often travel to visit patients at their homes or places of residence.


Nursing supervisors and nurse managers share several similarities in the skills they use on the job. Both roles require excellent communication, interpersonal and leadership skills to manage staff, resolve conflicts and build relationships with other medical professionals. They also both need strong organizational skills to plan work schedules, coordinate patient care and keep track of departmental budgeting and finances.

However, there are some key differences in the skills needed for these two positions. Nursing supervisors typically have more clinical experience than nurse managers and can provide direct patient care when necessary. They also may benefit from having advanced nursing skills, such as IV insertion or wound care, that they can teach to other nurses. Nurse managers, on the other hand, tend to have more business-related skills, such as human resources experience, that they can use to oversee hiring and performance evaluations. They also may have a better understanding of financial concepts like budgeting and billing that they can use to help run their department more efficiently.


The average salary for a nursing supervisor is $82,523 per year, while the average salary for a nurse manager is $89,850 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the healthcare facility, the location of the facility and the level of experience the nurse has.


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