Patricia Cameron-Hill

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Role of the NUM

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The Nurse Unit Manager



The issues and workload of this role have been well researched. We congratulate the nurses involved in this excellent work in New South Wales in 2007 and in Queensland in 2008.  

The findings are easy to read and enlightening:  

Appendix 1 of the Queensland study lists the “Perceived current responsibilities of the NUM”. This list fills an entire page under the headings of:

  • Clinical leadership
  • Clinical governance
  • Education and research
  • Leading and managing people
  • Business management
  • Materials management
  • Extras  

Similar responsibilities are included in the “Position Descriptions” of NUMs in Victorian hospitals. (The same applies to the position descriptions of Associate NUMs which is why we include them in our seminars.)  

There is no doubt that the most experienced and talented CEOs in health care and the corporate sector would think twice before taking on the job of the NUM, especially once they knew they had no real control over service demands.


The same key themes and issues were highlighted in the New South Wales and Queensland studies with similar recommendations. A positive outcome of the NSW report was the development of a training program for NUMs called "Take The Lead”.

This program "Take The Lead” was conducted across NSW “to develop, support and facilitate the role of the NUM”. Comprising five modules and more than 64 contact hours, the program was a great success especially in improving staff satisfaction, morale and patient care.

The success of “Take The Lead” showed that NUMs benefit from relevant education and support.

Recommendations from the Queensland study are being addressed through the Nurses and Midwives (Queensland Health) Certified Agreements (EBAs). The current EBA (2012) as well as the Queensland Health & Midwives Award (2012) support the achievement of the recommendations from their research report.

In other states there seems to be agreement that Nurse Unit Managers need more support and education, but it is largely left up to individual employers. The education programs offered tend to have a more general focus on “nursing management” or “clinical leadership” rather than on the specific needs of NUMs. It is understandable that some NUMs have trouble applying knowledge gained from educational programs to their complex management environments.

TAKING CHARGE is designed specifically for NUMs.

Your first step to a different future.