Reexamining Nurse Manager Span of Control With a 21st-Century Lens

FutureSense’s President and CEO, Jim Finkelstein, joined with nurse leaders from Southern California to co-author an insightful article on the Span of Control phenomenon for nurse managers in the Nursing Administration Quarterly Journal. 

“The primary aim of this literature review was to examine the quantity, quality, and consistency of evidence regarding the span of control (SOC) specific to nurse managers. A secondary aim was to meaningfully translate the evidence and offer guidance to 21st-century nurse leaders.   The review revealed that an SOC model built on a simplistic full-time employment ratio is outdated. Yet, nurse managers remain in their role in the face of these simplistic models despite feelings of inadequacy, exhaustion, and failure because they passionately care about patients and staff.  This evidence is offered to inform and drive conversations focused on providing optimal nurse manager SOC for maximum effective- ness within unique and ever-evolving care environments.”

Span of Control (SOC) refers to the number of individuals a manager can supervise directly at any time. As healthcare modernizes and technology advances, increased span of control offers opportunities for both increased efficiency and staff satisfaction. This detailed paper addresses both the history and future of nurse manager span of control from the perspective of the practitioner and human capital consultants.

  • This paper discusses the number of reporting staff that even the most passionate nurse manager can effectively supervise.

  • Executive leadership must recognize that SOC is no longer a separate HR issue or nursing issue—it is an organizational systems issue.

  • New attitudes toward these advanced technologies, tools, and competencies will result in different needs of SOC as health care moves deeper into the modern era.

Corinne Sinnigen Presents "Connecting With Your Purpose", March 6, 2019.