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The Role of Nursing Unit Supervisor: A New Pathway for RN Advancement

September 30, 2022

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In a time when the country is creating new ways to manage and provide care in a post COVID-19 world, we must not only acknowledge the immense, lifesaving work RN’s provided during the past 2.5 years, but also recognize that the nursing profession is changing as a result of the challenges the entire healthcare system faced during these trying times.

With nursing burnout and record retirements outpacing new entrants into the field, healthcare providers are embracing new pathways for RN’s who are looking for career advancement. Case in point, the role of the Nursing Unit Supervisor.

It’s true, healthcare providers are increasingly using work experience as a key component in vetting RN’s for higher positions within a growing number of systems, including hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, governmental institutions, and outpatient care centers.

What do Nurse Unit Supervisors Do?

Nursing supervisors are the nucleus for patient care on a hospital’s/healthcare facility’s floor. They plan schedules, assist and coach staff, onboard and train RNs, manage department budgets, maintain records, and monitor supply levels, amongst other duties.

Projected Career Growth

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, career growth for Medical and Health Services Managers (under which Unit Supervisor, Nurse Manager and other similar roles fall), will grow at a robust 28% thru 20311, much faster than the average for all occupations. In addition, the BLS predicts 56,600 new annual positions for supervisory roles in medical and health services going forward.

5 Skillsets Required for Success as a Nurse Unit Supervisor

  • Leadership Skills: Motivating, training, and coaching are integral to success for RN’s who wish to advance to supervisory roles. In addition, candidates must be able to communicate with stakeholders, including physicians, department heads, and healthcare administrators.
  • Technical Skills: As technology is always changing, it’s important that unit supervisors are able to quickly understand new systems, communicate and teach new technologies to their staff, and remain up-to-date on advances in things like charting, EMR systems, and technical innovations in processes and new equipment.
  • Analytical Skills: Being able to understand and adopt new laws, requirements, and make procedural changes to floor best practices is integral to leading a unit in any facility.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Communication skills are extra important given that these roles are often asked to not only have important conversations with staff, but also with patients and their family members.
  • Dealing with Conflicts: Unit supervisors will sometimes have to act as a go-between to deal with conflicts between staff or during times when emotional family members are questioning patient care. Being able to remain calm and collected and deescalate situations is a necessary trait in taking on these types of roles.

Your Experience Matters

Prior to COVID-19, many healthcare systems required a minimum of 5-years of experience for RN’s who were interested in supervisory roles. But that has changed as administrators have seen how nurses in all specialties excelled during the pandemic, took on vast amounts of patients, worked long and arduous hours, and vastly exceeded expectations during the past 2.5 years.

B.E. Smith Can Help

B.E. Smith, a leader in Interim Leadership roles across the spectrum of healthcare, has existing positions of 13 weeks or longer (often with opportunities for extensions) for Unit Supervisory roles with example requirements of the following for a NICU Unit Supervisor in California (as of this publication date).

  • Active CA RN license required.

As you can see, requirements have been relaxed, giving new RN candidates an open door to advance their careers and  use the valuable experience they have to be competitive for these kinds of roles.

In addition, a role for a recent Interim Unit Supervisor for an ICU Unit includes requirements of:

  • The Interim Unit Supervisor, ICU, will be responsible for the oversight of day-to-day operations within the Intensive Care Unit.

Take Your RN Career to New Levels

If you’re an RN who is interested in pursuing Unit Supervisory positions in a variety of facilities, there’s no time like the present to connect with a B.E. Smith recruiter.

With a variety of paid for benefits, including travel to assignments, business expenses, clean, furnished, safe housing, provided rental car, signing bonuses of $5,000 or more (in some job postings), and in many cases, paid travel to and from your home base every other weekend, there are many opportunities for RNs like you to explore a new way of working.

Connect with a B.E. Smith recruiter here to learn more. Or check out current Nursing Unit Supervisor job openings across the country to find your next career advancing position.


  1. Occupational Services Outlook, Medical and Health Services Manager,

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