No hospital can function without leadership. Although nursing executives provide direction and overall business strategies, the day-to-day business for the organization is typically handled by the nursing supervisor. Often known as the house supervisor, this individual is an experienced registered nurse who keeps her finger on the pulse of the organization to ensure it operates as smoothly as possible. She typically handles nursing staffing, patient admissions and assignments, and provides clinical expertise and nursing leadership to the staff during her shift.
Basic Skills and Characteristics
All registered nurses need specific skills and characteristics, such as compassion, empathy and the ability to build rapport with many different people. Nursing supervisors must also call on other skills and qualities. The house supervisor must deal with conflicting demands from physicians, outside entities and hospital staff. She uses her critical-thinking skills and judgment to make the best decision from multiple alternatives. She must be emotionally stable to deal with staff members or physicians who are upset, families dealing with the severe injury or death of a loved one, and the daily demands of managing a large organization. House supervisors communicate constantly with hospital employees at all levels, patients, outside entities and senior management staff. Their communications must be clear, concise and thorough to prevent misunderstandings and errors.
The primary task of a house supervisor is to ensure the hospital runs as efficiently and effectively as possible during her shift. To achieve that goal, she will adjust nursing staff as necessary, calling in staff for emergencies and sending people home if things are slow. She must supervise staff in the performance of their duties and act as a resource for the nursing staff on clinical questions, policy and procedure issues. The house supervisor decides where new patients will be admitted or assigned after surgery and procedures, and is the primary point of contact for outside organizations or entities that have questions or concerns regarding the hospital.
Secondary duties of a house supervisor may vary from one organization to another and may also vary according to the shift she works. The night supervisor, for example, does not have other administrative staff, such as the chief nurse executive, readily available for questions or concerns. The house supervisor may provide direct clinical care, especially in smaller hospitals. She may attend department or organization meetings as a representative of the nursing department. In some organizations, the house supervisor participates in strategic planning or budget development.
How to Get There
House supervisors begin their careers as registered nurses. Initial education for RNs includes three different options: a nursing diploma, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Although any of these allow the nurse to take the NCLEX-RN licensing exams, many organizations prefer to hire RNs with a bachelor’s degree, or BSN. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes BSN-educated RNs are also likely to have more opportunities for jobs and career advancement. RNs must be licensed to practice in all states. House supervisors must also have several years of clinical experience; some organizations prefer the house supervisor to have critical care or emergency room experience. Certification is optional, but nurses often choose to become certified as a mark of additional knowledge and expertise.