How to Become a Nurse Administrator

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Written by Kathleen Walder Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurse administrator and nurse

Interested in learning how to become a nurse administrator rather than taking on a bedside role? Nursing administrators have a job that’s a combination of human resources, facilities management, accounting, mediation, compliance, communication, and patient care. Read on to discover the skills it takes to excel in this essential healthcare role.

What Is a Nurse Administrator?

You may hear nurse administrators called nurse managers, nurse executives, nurse directors, or clinical nursing managers. A nurse administrator orchestrates the smooth operation of a unit or team in a hospital or other healthcare setting, including:

  • Inpatient facilities
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Emergency and urgent care centers
  • Nursing homes and long-term adult care facilities

A nurse administrator manages the nursing staff and takes care of the daily operation of these facilities. Their goal is to ensure that patients receive the best care as cost-effectively as possible. They also ensure nurses have what they need to do their jobs, whether it be supplies, training, or management support. A nurse administrator uses his or her many years of experience to effectively oversee everything going on in a nursing unit.

What Is Nursing Administration?

Just as the overall responsibilities of a nurse administrator are varied, so are the day-to-day activities of the position. These are a few of the most frequent tasks a nurse administrator handles:

  • Making staffing decisions, including hiring, evaluation, and coaching
  • Setting work schedules
  • Compiling budgets
  • Addressing conflicts and concerns between patients, healthcare staff, and families
  • Auditing policies and procedures to make sure they comply with local, state, and federal guidelines
  • Attending meetings with boards and committees
  • Assisting nursing staff to provide immediate patient care

The Path to Becoming a Nurse Administrator

You can set your sights on becoming a nurse administrator at any time. It may be your goal from the time you enter nursing school, or it might come to mind as you work in the healthcare field.

Earn Your BSN Degree and Pass Examination

As with all advanced nursing positions, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX to get your license as an RN. If you have your bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), you’re one step closer. If you started nursing with a two-year degree, think about how you’ll get a BSN, either through a traditional four-year program, or an RN-to-BSN bridge program.

Get an Advanced Degree

In most cases, you’ll need a master’s degree to be considered for an administrative nursing job, so you can continue with school or choose to take classes while you gain experience working.

Gain Clinical Experience

Make the most of your next few years working as an RN, and look for opportunities to lead or supervise other nurses to show you are suited for management. Most employers require a minimum of five years of nursing experience plus one year or more supervising other nurses.

Earn Management Certification

When you have completed your master’s degree and are ready to make a run for a nurse administrator job, your next step is to pass a test for certification. You can choose from five certifications that qualify you for a healthcare management position.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Administrator?

While individual cases may vary, generally speaking, it takes at least 12 years to gain the experience needed to become a nurse administrator. You can decrease the time it takes to learn how to be a nurse administrator by taking accelerated classes to fulfill your nurse administrator education requirements and earn your degrees sooner. You can also work on getting experience while going to school for your nursing administration degree.

What Skills Are Needed for Nursing Administration?

As you advance in your nursing career, you will learn many skills through experience. You’ll understand how a nursing team works together. You’ll learn a facility’s policies and procedures. You will know how best to communicate with team members, colleagues, patients, and families.

In your master’s in nursing administration program, you’ll take courses that teach you the healthcare business and how to become a nurse administrator using the newest technologies and practices. These include things like:

  • Business case analysis
  • Strategic planning for healthcare improvement
  • Managing resources
  • Advanced pathopharmacological foundations
  • Advanced health assessment

Check out this healthcare administrator job description to see what employers are looking for in a nurse administrator.

How Much Do Nurse Administrators Make?

The average nurse administrator salary in the US is $90,577. Depending on where you work, the pay can range from $64,000 to $135,000.

Regarding job growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track nurse administrators specifically. Instead, they are classified as medical and health services managers. BLS projects this job segment to grow more than 32% in the next 10 years. States with the highest salaries for medical and health services managers are:

  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Delaware

Gain Nursing Experience on Your Own Schedule

Whether you’re learning how to become a nurse administrator or aiming to be the best RN you can be, IntelyCare helps you take control of your career path. Pick where and when you want to work when you apply to become an IntelyPro.