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What is a Nursing Administrator?

Nursing administrator jobs are managerial or executive in nature. They do not usually involve caring for patients or being directly involved in patient care. Since these jobs involve managing other nurses or nursing departments, advanced education, licensure, and experience are typically a must.

Nursing administrator jobs are not entry-level or something anyone can step in and do. These jobs require a combination of leadership abilities and practical experience as a nurse. Nursing administrator jobs take between four and eight years of preparation. However, these jobs are expected to grow 32% by 2029.

Similar to other managerial and director-level positions, nursing administrators can expect to earn higher than average salaries. That said, these jobs involve a lot of paperwork, conflict resolution, meetings, and oversight duties. Individuals who are more interested in direct patient care and interaction may not enjoy being nursing administrators.

What Do People in Nursing Administrator Jobs Do?

Nursing administrators essentially manage a group or department of nurses. They are in charge of scheduling staff, evaluating nurses’ performance, and ensuring the department or facility is following regulations related to patient care.

A nursing administrator often has a direct impact on the department’s policies and procedures, including patient care standards. Although federal and state laws provide the foundation for care standards, nursing administrators often design guidelines that are specific to their facilities.

As with other managerial roles, nursing administrator jobs involve setting a budget and monitoring expenses. The budget usually includes everything tied to the department’s operations, such as labor and supply costs. Administrators also oversee hiring and training, in addition to staff discipline and terminations.

The best way to think of a nursing administrator is as a departmental manager or director who reports to the medical facility’s CEO or top-level executive. In a non-profit or government setting, a nursing administrator may report to an advisory board.

Where Do People in Nursing Administrator Jobs Work?

Nursing administrators can work in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, nursing homes or assisted living centers, or doctor’s offices. The BLS reports the majority of nursing administrator jobs are in hospitals, with doctor’s offices and care facilities coming in second and third, respectively.

Hospitals include those within major and privately-owned healthcare systems, in addition to state and federal facilities. In rural communities, hospitals may be locally-owned and smaller while also serving multiple neighboring towns within the same county.

Doctor’s offices and residential care facilities could also be part of a larger healthcare system or locally-owned. Approximately 33% of nursing administrators work in hospitals, 12% for physician offices, and 10% for nursing and residential care centers. Around 7% work in outpatient care facilities, including rehab.

What Degree is Required to Become a Nursing Administrator?

To become a nursing administrator, you need to complete several degrees. You also need to become licensed and gain experience as a registered nurse. Some employers also prefer certification, but you may be able to pursue these as you work in the position.

The first degree you’ll need is your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. This degree usually takes four years to complete. However, it may take you less or more time depending on the program and your work schedule. Accelerated degree programs are available for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject.

Once you complete your BSN, you’ll want to become a licensed RN by passing the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. After you earn your licensure, seek out a job as a nurse and gain at least one year of experience caring for patients. To become a competitive candidate, you may need to gain more time on the floor.

As an RN, you can seek out stretch assignments and leadership opportunities, such as becoming a mentor to new hires. This will help you stand out once you decide to apply for open nursing administrator jobs. But before you do, you’ll need to get your master’s.

Some nurses pursue a Master’s of Science in Nursing, and others get a Master’s in Health Administration. If an employer prefers or requires certifications, you can obtain them from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

How Much Money Does a Nursing Administrator Earn?

Nursing administrators who work in hospitals earn the most at an average of $112,870 a year. Administrators in doctor’s offices earn $94,240 a year, and those who work in residential caretake homes earn an average of $89,880. Nursing administrators in outpatient care facilities earn an average of $100,690.

While all these average earnings are well above the median for all occupations, remember that nursing administrators may have less of a work-life balance. They may need to be on call, work weekends and holidays, and long hours. In addition, the financial and time investment it requires to pursue an advanced education may not be a large enough payoff for some.

Nursing Administrator Job Requirements

To become a nursing administrator, you need an advanced understanding of what nurses and patient care facilities do. You have to be knowledgeable of government regulations and care standards. It’s also critical to know how to juggle multiple administrative responsibilities, confront and help resolve conflict, and know how to evaluate your colleagues.

Besides the necessary education and experience, employers look for candidates who have good communication and interpersonal skills. You’ll need to be analytical, have technical aptitude, and have negotiation abilities. A strong work ethic and attention to detail are also beneficial.

Nursing Administrator Career Path

Nursing administrator jobs are usually at the top level of a nursing department. However, you may have ambitions to become chief of staff at a hospital or care facility. Nursing administrator jobs include becoming a nursing director, a health and services manager, or a chief nursing officer.

However, just because you reach the ranks of an administrator position doesn’t mean you have to stay in management. Some nursing administrators return to patient care as registered nurses or move into home health care practices. The path is really up to you!

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