Nurse Director – RN Management Careers for Master’s Degree Graduates

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree provides a wide range of possibilities for RNs seeking to advance to management positions. If you enjoy planning, organizing and leading nursing activities and staff, you may be ideally suited to a nurse director career. An MSN in Nursing Administration degree can provide the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in this high-profile role.

Responsibilities of a Nurse Director

Nurse directors are responsible for managing and planning the nursing activities of a department within a hospital or healthcare facility. This involves evaluating and setting the goals and standards of the department. Nursing directors provide general leadership in all nursing matters for an organization.

The duties of a nurse director include:

  • Develop and communicate the nursing mission, values, philosophy and goals
  • Direct patient care
  • Review, approve and institute nursing policies and procedures
  • Create short- and long-term plans to meet the goals of the department
  • Ensure that the department is meeting governmental regulations and compliance standards
  • Prepare budgets and conduct financial planning
  • Develop a staffing plan
  • Maintain a system of records and reports
  • Collaborate with staff, management and external groups to coordinate patient care
  • Communicate with senior-level executives on all matters pertaining to nursing
  • Supervise and advise nursing management
  • Facilitate regular meetings with department managers and direct reports
  • Coordinate the creation and implementation of patient care services with other groups and departments
  • Evaluate nursing care, treatments and services to make sure that patient needs are being met

As a nursing leader, the nurse director must create a collaborative team environment through active and participative leadership. This means working with all levels of personnel, including the CEO, COO, department managers and nurse supervisors, as well as outside agencies and the local community.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Needed for This Job

It is important for nurse directors to be knowledgeable about state and federal healthcare regulations pertaining to nursing care. They also need to understand nursing procedures, policies and standards, and stay informed of current nursing and hospital administration developments and practices. Nurse directors need to have good managerial, supervisory and training skills in order to lead and guide their nursing staff. They should also have competency in various areas of human resources, such as labor relations and equal employment opportunity policies. Other key requirements include:

  • Proven ability to direct, develop and evaluate nursing staff
  • Good interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to handle stress and remain calm during difficult or challenging situations
  • Outstanding leadership and motivation skills

How to Prepare for a Career as a Nurse Director

Most nurse directors begin their careers as bedside registered nurses (RNs). Through advanced education, training and nursing experience, they can be promoted to management positions of increasing responsibility and ultimately attain a nurse director position. Employers usually give preference to candidates who hold or who are pursuing their MSN degree. An MSN in Nursing Administration can provide excellent preparation for a career as a nurse director, as it helps students develop expert-level skills in management, organizational leadership and community health.

What Can You Expect to Earn as a Nurse Director?

Based on national salary data compiled by, nursing directors had a median yearly income of $135,501 as of Sept. 30, 2016. The middle 50% of executives in this role had yearly earnings between $118,541 and $156,146. Administrators at this level may also be eligible for bonuses, and generally receive a full benefits package including healthcare insurance, 401(k) or pension contributions and paid vacations.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for all medical and health services managers, including nurse directors, should be excellent. The BLS predicts that employment in this field will grow by 17% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. There will continue to be strong demand for nursing administrators as the healthcare industry continues to diversify and expand, and individuals who hold an MSN in Nursing Administration will be well prepared to secure a position as a nurse director.

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