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How to Become a Nurse Unit Manager

Photo: Nurse Unit Manager
How to Become a Nurse Unit Manager in Australia

Australians enjoy universal, publically-funded access to one of the world’s best healthcare systems, giving us one of the highest life expectancies on the planet and what is generally regarded to be an enviable standard of living. With a good healthcare system being central to the wellbeing of the general public, it’s the doctors and nurses who work long, often challenging hours in our healthcare institutions who keep this system functioning effectively and delivering solid outcomes for the community.

One of the key roles in Australia’s fast-growing healthcare and social assistance sector is performed by nurse unit managers, who are often found working behind the scenes to manage the teams of nurses on the frontline of our busy hospitals and medical clinics. With strong future growth forecast for demand in this role, we’ve taken a closer look at what it takes to secure a nurse unit manager job in Australia and take your healthcare career to the next level!
Nurse Unit Manager Jobs: What do they involve? 

As you probably guessed from the job title, nurse unit managers are experienced healthcare professionals whose primary role is to manage and supervise teams of nurses within healthcare institutions – including public hospitals, community health clinics, aged care homes and any other facility where nurses operate in a clinical capacity. Given their decision-making responsibility, nurse unit manager jobs also involve a degree of reporting, monitoring and financial management to ensure high-quality nursing services are delivered within their jurisdiction in the most cost-effective manner possible. Their elevated position also requires they keep up to date on the latest developments in nursing practice, including safety and risk management procedures as well as new medical technologies that can deliver better patient care.

  • A Profile of a Typical Nurse Unit Manager Job: According to the federal government's Job Outlook website, the typical Nurse Unit Manager in Australia is a 49-year-old female who works full-time in a publicly-funded hospital or healthcare clinic for an average 36.3 hours per week. Their day to day job involves managing a team of junior enrolled nurses and more experienced registered nurses in a particular hospital ward, where they will oversee patient care and ensure their direct reports feel supported in the demanding work they do. Nurse Unit Managers report directly to the hospitals head of nursing and has a direct input into staffing decisions covering the ward.

Nurse Unit Manager Jobs: Key Roles & Responsibilities? 

Now we’ve painted a picture of the typical nurse unit manager in Australia, let’s turn our attention to specific roles and responsibilities they face on a daily basis. These include:
  • Developing, implementing and monitoring nursing care policies for specific jurisdictions (I.e. a hospital ward) within a healthcare institution
  • Coordinating nursing rosters to ensure their specific jurisdiction is adequately staffed to deliver high-quality nursing care
  • Recruiting new nursing staff to work within their teams
  • Preparing and managing budgets to ensure nursing activities within their jurisdiction are adequately funded
  • Evaluating performance of individual nursing staff under their supervision and providing a roadmap for career development and progression
  • Forming close working partnerships with other healthcare professionals, including doctors, medical specialists and nurse unit managers from other jurisdictions
  • Keeping up to date with current developments in nursing practice and healthcare policy, to ensure best practice patient care is delivered

What Should I Study to Become a Nurse Unit Manager in Australia?

Sounds like a role you’d like to pursue? The pathway to becoming a nurse unit manager is quite straightforward and first involves qualifying as a Registered Nurse (RN), which is the most common nursing role in Australia. An undergraduate degree such as Monash University’s 3-year Bachelor of Nursing will typically be sufficient to gain employment in this field, which allows you to gain the few years of solid full-time work experience necessary to move up to the next level.

Once you have two years or more experience under your belt, you can then apply to study a postgraduate degree such as Monash Online’s 2-year Master of Health Administration (MHA), a degree that gives you the flexibility to combine full-time work with study so your learning comes to life on a daily basis. Once your studies complete, the next step is to make sure your official registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia is up to date and you’re ready to go!

Ready to take your healthcare career to the next level as a Nurse Unit Manager? Visit Monash Online today to learn more about our 2-year online Master of Health Administration and Apply Now!

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