Is a Nursing Management Path Right for You?

Nurses make a difference beyond beside care

Nurse manager

Bedside nursing is not the only way to care for patients. As team leaders, nurses also have an impact on patients’ lives through their work in administrative and managerial roles. But how do you know if taking the leap from hands-on caregiving to administration is right for you? Cleveland Clinic nurse managers offer insights about what they find satisfying in their own roles and what to think about for those who are considering moving from the bedside into management.

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Be passionate about leadership

Joe Melendez, MSN, RN, started his career as an emergency room nurse. Although he found rewards in his work in the emergency department, he says he “just had a passion for leadership.”

Eight years into his career, he applied for a succession program, in which nurses with leadership potential were identified and provided with resources and training to move into a new role. He was one of three nurses chosen to take part.

After completing the succession program, he became an assistant nurse manager at Cleveland Clinic Lorain Family Health and Surgery Center. There, he helped manage day-to-day operations, which included staffing, payroll and handling human resources issues.

These days, Melendez is a nurse manager for Cleveland Clinic Community Care, which offers personalized primary care to patients and the community. He also manages the clinical staff for COVID-19 vaccine clinics, a virtual care program, and school-based nursing.

Melendez says he believes that he is still nursing, but he is influencing patient care through leadership. He describes himself as a transformational leader – one who engages his team in decision-making.  

“We all want what is best for the patient,” he says. “As a leader, you can have an impact on how your caregivers directly serve patients.”

Melendez says he would advise anyone considering shifting to a leadership role to be sure they are doing it for the right reason.

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“I believe you should have a passion for it,” he says. “You want to be a resource for your team and share the organization’s values and goals with them.”

Know your strengths and get involved

Mike Mattingly, MHA, MSN, RN, is a nurse manager at Cleveland Clinic Akron General Justin T. Rogers Hospice Care Center.

“My team trusts me, and I relate well to them,” Mattingly says.

He credits his laid-back personality. “I am not aggressive, but I excel in other areas of management. I would encourage nurses who are considering a management role to know their strengths and never think they can’t do it because of their personality.”

Mattingly has worked in hospice care throughout his 13-year nursing career. In February 2020, he became an assistant nurse manager (ANM). He had been working on a master’s degree knowing he wanted to shift gears in his career to make a “bigger impact on the hospice team.” His ANM role was a mix of management duties, bedside and field work. Mattingly says his current role is completely administrative – and he loves it.

He advises nurses aspiring to management roles to get involved in shared governance and other committees and to speak up with ideas and concerns. He also encourages ongoing learning and is currently pursuing his own certification in palliative and hospice nursing.

“Find educational opportunities to dive deeper and learn more about your preferred area of expertise,” he adds.

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Reach out to a nursing leader

Logan Warner, BSN, RN is a nurse manager on the medical cardiology unit at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. He advises nurses who are thinking about pursuing a management role to reach out to a nursing leader to let them know of their interest and ask for guidance.

Warner started out as a staff nurse almost five years ago. When he was nominated by a peer to lead a project, he says he realized he could make a lot more changes from a leadership role.

In 2019, he took a position as an assistant nurse manager and then went on to become a nurse manager in 2021. With 96 people directly reporting to him, Warner is busy with managerial and administrative responsibilities.

“It’s a different type of stress than bedside nursing,” he says. “It’s neither better nor worse. It’s just different.”

Although he misses the rapport he had with his patients, and the opportunity to see their health improve, he likes his management role.

“I enjoy seeing improvements in my staff and seeing them grow in their careers,” he says. “I enjoy the camaraderie I have with other managers. We work well together and share best practices. I also like the autonomy of being able to focus on what matters most to my team and how they can be better. It’s very rewarding.”