What Does a Unit Manager Do?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2019
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A unit manager typically manages the staff, helps write policy and procedure recommendations and handles administrative duties. Depending on the environment, a unit manager can work in a warehouse, office setting, or even in a hospital. Typically, hospitals are divided up into units, and each unit has either a nursing supervisor or a unit manager. She can assign herself a patient care assignment when staffing is low or simply perform administrative duties.

Typically, the hospital unit manager will delegate patient assignments, contact physicians for treatment orders, and solve problems with other staff members or family members. Generally, the unit manager at a hospital will have a nursing degree and extensive experience in the nursing unit that she manages. In addition, she may find that she is on 24-hour call, and may even be summoned to the hospital if a staff member calls in sick during an overnight shift.

When not making rounds on the unit or working as a clinical nurse, the nursing manager might work on scheduling, policy, and procedures. It is up to the unit manager of a hospital to create programs, which can include classes on the importance of hand washing to reduce cross-contamination from patient to patient. Typically the manager works the day shift, because the position is classified as administrative in nature, however, she must be flexible to cover unexpected emergencies.


The job as a unit manager is frequently a promotion from a staff nurse. Many times, the position will be granted to a registered nurse who has demonstrated dedication to the unit or hospital, and who has extensive experience in the specified clinical area. For example, a good manager candidate typically has worked in the unit for at least five years, is responsible, and is a problem solver with an excellent attendance record.

Sometimes, the hospital will post available nursing manager jobs in house for current employees to apply. Other times, the hospital may place an ad for a nursing manager online or in newspapers to attract outside job candidates. In some cases, these are blind ads that do not disclose the name or location of the hiring hospital, because the job candidate will replace a manager who has not yet been terminated from her position yet. In these cases, the details about the hospital are not disclosed until the employee has been fairly notified by her superior of her pending termination.


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