What Can You Do With an MBA in Nursing?

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Written by Marie Hasty, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A nurse demonstrates what to do with an MBA in nursing while talking to a colleague.

Want to advance your nursing career into leadership? Curious about the business side of medicine and hospital management? Saying yes to either of these questions could make you a great candidate for a master’s in business administration (MBA). In nursing, an MBA could help prepare you for business leadership across a range of settings, from individual clinics to whole hospital systems.

While getting an MBA might seem like a nontraditional career choice, the skills you use to care for patients every day could be valuable in business. For example:

  • Resource allocation: Nurses use their prioritization skills to allocate resources for the best patient outcomes. Time, staff, and materials are all resources in the clinical and corporate setting.
  • Strategic planning: Nurses develop care plans to meet individual patient needs and goals. On the corporate level, these skills translate into creating and implementing organizational strategies.
  • Healthcare policy knowledge: Nurses in the clinical and corporate setting must have an understanding of organizational and government policies that impact patients and health teams.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration and communication: Nurses’ therapeutic communication skills are essential for collaborating with team members and other leaders.

Types of MBAs for Nurses

If you’re interested in getting an MBA after nursing in the clinical setting, there are several degree tracks to choose from. The best MBA for you will depend on what you’re interested in studying and doing after you graduate.

Check out a few of the MBA specializations you might choose with a nursing background:

On the other hand, many programs offer combination MBAs that pair with a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a master in public health (MPH) degree. These tracks are a great option if you want to remain in the nursing or patient care world while elevating your business skills. For example:

Benefits of MBAs for Nurses

MBA programs take serious commitment, so why should you consider one as a nurse? These are some of the biggest benefits of an MBA in nursing:

Expanded network: An MBA program could help you build relationships with other students, colleagues, and professors. These connections could help you gain more work opportunities and even build friendships.

Broader perspective and reach: When working as a nurse, you’re focused on caring for your patients and helping them experience the best outcomes. An MBA can help expand your understanding of healthcare systems, giving you a broader context for how care takes place at the system level. You could also use this degree to shape large policies that impact care.

Career mobility: An MBA can open you up to more opportunities for non-bedside roles in leadership, business, and more. With an MBA, you might eventually start your own company, become a nurse executive, or otherwise lead nursing into the future.

Salary boost: MBA-prepared nurses typically take home a higher salary than clinical nurses because the degree prepares you for leadership and executive positions.

Career Paths for Nurses with MBAs

Getting an MBA in nursing can allow you to work in a variety of settings and roles. Here are some of the job titles that earning an MBA could make you qualified for:

Chief Nursing Officer

The chief nursing officer (CNO) is a top executive responsible for nursing strategy and patient care standards within a healthcare organization or hospital. They oversee nursing operations, policies, and quality improvement initiatives at the system level.

Chief Nursing Executive

Similar to the CNO, the chief nursing executive (CNE) is a senior leader responsible for nursing services across a facility or several facilities. They collaborate with other executives to align nursing goals with overall organizational objectives, managing other leaders such as directors of nursing (DONs), clinical operations managers (COMs), nursing supervisors, and more.

Director of Nursing

A DON manages nursing units, supervises staff, oversees budgets, and runs quality improvement initiatives. They might work in post-acute areas, such as skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities.

Clinical Operations Manager

Nurses with MBAs can work as COMs, overseeing the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities or specific clinical programs. They focus on efficiency, quality improvement, and resource management within clinical teams.

Nursing Director

Nursing directors manage several nursing units or departments within a healthcare facility. They oversee unit managers, and develop and implement strategies to optimize patient care outcomes and nursing services.

Nursing Supervisor

Nursing supervisors oversee daily operations within a specific department or unit, ensuring efficient patient care delivery and staff management. They may also be involved in budgeting and resource allocation.

Nurse Consultant

Nursing consultants provide expertise and guidance to healthcare organizations, assisting with project management, process improvement, and policy development. They may specialize in areas like legal consulting, quality assurance, informatics, or education.

MBA in Nursing: Salary Expectations

What you make after graduating with an MBA degree will depend on your industry, location, and more. On average, medical and health services managers make $110,680 per year. In comparison, registered nurses make $94,480 per year on average. That means that an MBA could help you earn around 17% more than you do as a nurse.

Getting an MBA in Nursing: FAQs

Which MBA is best for nurses?

The MBA that’s best for you is one that will help you achieve your career goals. For example, are you interested in health policy initiatives that investigate broad population outcomes? If so, a combined MPH/MBA might be the best option. On the other hand, if you’re curious about how hospital systems manage clinicians and patient needs, then an MBA in healthcare administration could be a good fit.

Do some research on your program options to get a sense of which tracks interest you. You might also speak with one of the nurse leaders in your organization and ask about their perspective.

Is there an MBA for nurses online?

Yes, many MBA programs are offered online. To make sure you’re spending your tuition wisely, research each program to ensure it has a good reputation and is accredited with at least one of these organizations:

  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Association of MBAs (AMBA)

Why get an MBA vs. MSN degree?

An MSN degree is more specialized in the nursing field than an MBA. Getting an MSN could prepare you for roles in advanced practice, like becoming a nurse practitioner, clinical nursing specialist, nurse educator, and more. Similar to an MBA degree, there are several tracks to choose from if you’re considering an MSN.

In contrast, MBAs are typically associated with leadership roles, and earning one might open you up to opportunities outside of the nursing field. You might pursue healthcare management, quality improvement, or executive positions with an MBA.

If you’re not sure which degree to choose from, look up job openings for roles that you’d be interested in. Job listings often include degree requirements, and you can use these specifications to guide your choice. Each degree has unique benefits, and keep in mind that you might pursue both at the same time in a dual program.

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