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Everything You Need to Know About Unit Managers

Table of Contents

Unit Manager Job Description

Unit Managers are primarily responsible for overseeing day to day patient care, supervising, directing and developing nurse staff, and reporting to the Director of Nursing to ensure quality patient care within a long-term care center, skilled nursing facility or assisted living community. Unit Managers are required to be dependable and personable liaisons between residents and their families. Unit Managers are tasked with ensuring their unit complies with federal and state regulatory standards, and follows company policies and procedures. The daily tasks of a Unit Manager generally include:

  • Maintaining and restoring health of resident patients
  • Acting as a main point of contact between residents and their families
  • Addressing and preventing concerns from family members
  • Assists in developing, implementing and making adjustments to patient care plans as needed
  • Supervises, counsels, and provides discipline when necessary, to nurse staff to ensure the highest quality care possible
  • Ensures their unit meets federal and state regulatory standards, as well as company policies and procedures
  • Collaborates with the Director of Nursing, Nurse Practitioners and Physicians to plan and maintain resident care
  • Completes admission and discharge assessments
  • Oversees and audits changes made to care plans
  • Delivers hands-on care and medicine distribution as needed
  • Audits and completes charting, evaluations, medical forms, and other administrative tasks
  • Identifies procedural problems and works with the Director of Nursing to resolve issues
  • Evaluates, prioritizes and meets the care needs of each resident

Unit Managers are expected to have an in-depth relationship with their residents and their family members, while also having a distinguished rapport with their staff.  This role is essential to every operational aspect of a long-term care center, skilled nursing facility or assisted living community. From ensuring individual resident needs are being met, to the effectiveness of procedures, to staff morale, the Unit Manager is a primary driver of how well a healthcare center performs. The Unit Manager enjoys a unique position within the long-term care setting. They are very involved with residents while implementing and carrying out procedures that will directly impact the care of those residents. Unit Managers have the direct ability to make a substantial difference in the quality of life of their patients.

Due to the degree of involvement registered nurses in the role of a unit manager experience, it is of the utmost importance that individuals seeking out this role are compassionate and have an innate desire to make a positive difference in the lives of those around them. The nurses in this role will need to be knowledgeable of regulatory standards determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also known as CMS, and the state regulatory standards for the specific state in which they are licensed and practicing. The nature of long-term care of an aging population presents many situations in which emergencies can occur. Anyone considering taking on a Unit Manager role, should give careful thought to their ability to stay calm, act professionally, and make decisions in high-stress situations.

Job Titles Related to Unit Manager

Unit Manager is typically the title given to an individual who oversees and directs Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) and Certified Nurse Aids (CNA’s), within a unit of a long-term care center, skilled nursing facility or assisted living community. Other similar titles include UM, Nurse Manager, RN Supervisor, RN Manager, or Nurse Supervisor.

Unit Manager Job Requirements

Unit Manager-1

Minimally, Unit Manager jobs require an active Registered Nurse license issued by the state in which the individual is practicing, and previous long-term care or assisted living experience. However, most employers require either a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, or an Associate’s of Science in Nursing degree (ADN). Strong candidates will have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, at least two years of previous managerial experience and leadership skills, as well as experience caring for elderly patients in a long-term care facility.

Due to state regulatory standards, RNs need to be up-to-date on several annual requirements. Those requirements include: an annual background check, tuberculosis screening, physical, Basic Life Support Certification (BLS), and annual assessment completion through Prophecy Health. Additionally, each state requires a minimum number of completed working hours, and/or a minimum number of completed Continuing Education Credit hours (CEU’s) in order to renew an RN license each year. There are several resources available to RNs to ensure they meet these requirements, such as their state Board Of Nursing or Nurse.com (Powered by Relias), which offers a list of Nursing CE Requirements By State.

Additional Certifications for Unit Managers

There are several certifications Unit Managers are able to obtain that will help to further their careers. Nurse.org lists 183 different certifications that are applicable to RN’s in this role. However, here is a list of certifications that UM’s typically hold:

  • nurse.org logoGerontological Nursing Certification
  • Basic Life Support Certification
  • Wound Care Certification

Unit Manager Salary Range

The average salary of a Unit Manager depends heavily on the geographical location, size and focus of the long-term care center, skilled nursing facility or assisted living community they serve. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests, on average, a Registered Nurse in a Unit Manager role can expect an annual salary of $71,730. Due to the increase in the development of senior living properties, the high demand for, and the importance of the Unit Manager role, salaries and bonuses are increasing.


Job Outlook for Unit Managers

+12% (3)-1

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for Unit Managers is very good! It projects a growth of at least 12% between 2018 and 2028. Several reasons factor into the job market for long-term care professionals. As a whole, our population is aging. People are living and staying active longer, which means the need for more senior care facilities and healthcare professionals is also increasing.

The need for skilled nursing professionals is also impacted by changing hospital policies in which patients are discharged from hospitals more quickly than they have been historically. There has been a rise in the need for healthcare professionals in long-term care to meet this demand, especially in centers that provide rehabilitation for stroke, head injuries, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Job Hunter Resources

There are many opportunities to advance your career into the Unit Manager field including suggestions on how to emerge as a leader. Bestnursingdegree.com offers extensive resources to connect with organizations offering additional credentialing, top schools to expand your education, and ways to develop your management experience. Also, visit the American Health Care Association’s Career Center for resources on job searching and advancing your career. In addition, senior living recruiters can be an invaluable resource to help you find the right position.

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