Nurse leadership roles multiply

By Caglayan Yasan*
Monday, 26 April, 2021

Nurse leadership roles multiply

For any nurse interested in a leadership role, postgraduate study can bring forward career advancement and potentially greater remuneration — and career options for nurses are quickly expanding with the growth of the health sector and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses work in the public and private healthcare sectors in management positions; as frontline workers playing a crucial role in patient healthcare outcomes, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown; in respiratory and vaccination clinics, intensive care and emergency departments; in aged care; and in the community helping people at home who have chronic conditions.

The healthcare sector employs more people than any other sector, or about 14% of Australian workers — and nurses account for the greatest proportion of workers.1 As Australia’s population ages, the sector will keep growing and expanding its workforce. With that, nurses can position themselves for career advancement.

The Australian Government is delivering a record $115.5 billion in 2020–21 to deliver health services to Australians. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the government has committed more than $16 billion to the emergency health response to the pandemic and invested more than $1.6 billion in aged care to protect senior Australians and workers.2

The government will continue to support Australians living in rural and remote areas, implementing the $550 million Stronger Rural Health Strategy. This will give nurses and allied health professionals a greater role in delivery of multidisciplinary, team-based primary care and will open up leadership roles for nurses. Aged-care funding will also provide additional opportunities for nurses to train in leadership and clinical skills and enhance their capability to support and supervise personal care workers.3

Emerging management jobs

Employers across a variety of healthcare bodies, including hospitals and clinics, favour nurses with postgraduate skills for management and leadership roles. And the opportunities are growing.

According to federal government data, 20,200 ‘nurse managers’ were in the workforce in 2019, having grown strongly over five years from 13,900 in 2014. This number is expected to grow to 23,400 in 2024.4 These estimates do not take account of the impact of COVID-19, which would be expected to add to the number of nurse manager roles in the near future.

On top of this, the number of jobs for ‘health and welfare services managers’ was 23,900 in 2019 and is expected to grow to 28,400 in 2024.5 For such positions, nurses often need a formal qualification in health administration, business management, general medicine or nursing. Postgraduate training can give nursing candidates an edge.

The financial rewards of moving into these emerging leadership positions can be significant. Nursing managers earned an average weekly wage of $2076 in May 20186 compared with just $1382 for registered nurses. The same ABS data reveals that health and welfare services managers earned an average weekly wage of $2279 in May 2018. These salaries highlight that nurses with postgraduate qualifications working in management can rapidly earn back the cost of postgraduate education.

Job options multiply

Leadership roles for Masters-qualified nurses are highly varied, much more so than the jobs available to registered nurses. A Master of Nursing or other postgraduate training will prepare nurses for such roles. A Master of Nursing from Victoria University will equip nurses to take on the additional responsibilities that management involves and deliver better nursing for better health through leadership, research and innovation. VU Online’s Master of Nursing, with specialisations in Chronic Disease and Ageing or Nursing Leadership, prepares nurses for the challenges of clinical leadership, research and advanced practice roles.

Nurses can undertake six-month rotations in specialty areas such as emergency department, ICU or special care nursery, and at the end of the six months can commence postgraduate studies. If interested in management roles, nurses can discuss this with their unit manager, and they will be provided with shadow shifts (with the hospital coordinator or associate unit manager) depending on their area of interest.

*Caglayan Yasan is the VU Online Master of Nursing Academic Course Coordinator. She is a student-focused academic working within the College of Health and Biomedicine/Nursing. She is an experienced surgical, community and rapid assessment nurse and is undertaking her PhD with the aim to improve patient/staff experience with falls prevention in a medical ward. She graduated as a registered nurse in 2003 and commenced her career at VU as a clinical facilitator in 2015.


  6. Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia, May 2018

Top image credit: ©

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