What Does an Emergency Department Manager Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2019
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An emergency department manager coordinates care in an emergency room. A facility may have several managers to provide complete shift coverage, with each manager responsible for the quality of care on assigned shifts. Usually a nursing certification is required to become an emergency department manager, and applicants may be viewed more competitively if they have postgraduate qualifications and experience in emergency room settings. Some choose to specialize in particular patient populations and may work for pediatric emergency rooms or behavioral health facilities.

When an emergency department manager arrives at work, it’s common to have a quick meeting with the manager from the previous shift. This allows the incoming manager to find out which cases are currently on the floor and their status. Outgoing staff can provide information that might be relevant to planning for the shift, like awareness of an incoming trauma case, or warnings that severe weather may cause an increased number of accidents. This allows the manager to decide how to prioritize care on the floor to make sure everyone gets treatment.

Much of this job is administrative. Rather than participating directly in patient care, the emergency department manager typically coordinates staff and makes decisions to keep the emergency room running smoothly. This can include calling for more staff if necessary, overseeing new employee training, and working with staff at neighboring hospitals to facilitate transfers and coverage in disasters. The emergency room manager can also set and enforce policy, including treatment protocols and ethical guidelines.


At some facilities, the emergency department manager participates in the budgeting process. This can include providing information about what the emergency department does, how many patients it sees on average, and what kinds of monetary needs must be met to keep the department operational. The job can also include ordering and monitoring supplies, hiring technicians to repair malfunctioning equipment, and setting schedules.

In the event discipline is needed in the emergency department, this member of the staff may deliver it or take part in meetings to discuss an adverse situation. Employees can be suspended or fired for violations of workplace policy, including engaging in activities that endanger patients and staff, or failing to observe confidentiality laws. If the department has special needs like high volumes of homeless patients or specific types of cases, the emergency department manager also needs to be prepared to meet those needs and organize staff effectively to address ongoing issues that may arise.


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