If you are an RN looking to advance your career, a graduate degree can allow you to pursue managerial nursing positions. With experience and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you may be able to obtain a position as a nurse administrator.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator?
Nurse administrators are responsible for managing other nurses within their unit or department. They often work with both nursing staff and patients to coordinate treatment and care. However, nurse administrators may have less contact with patients than their nursing staff, as their primary job is to ensure that patient needs are being met by the nurses that they supervise. They are responsible for allocating proper resources and regularly assessing whether or not the nursing staff is meeting quality assurance standards. Nurse administrators also plan staffing schedules and budgets, and recruit new nurses. Some job duties will be more complex depending on the organization, and may require that nurse administrators manage all of the services within a unit or department. Working in a management position requires that they act as a liaison between hospital senior management and the nursing team. Among other duties, nurse administrators are required to:
- Provide guidance and management of nursing programs
- Make sure that nursing staff adequately monitors patients and documents their progress
- Serve as an expert and resource on all matters pertaining to nursing
- Create policies and protocols to ensure high standards for the delivery of nursing care
- Participate in policy development with other medical staff
- Monitor and maintain inventory of equipment and supplies
Skills Needed to Do Well in a Nurse Administrator Position
Most nurse administrators begin their careers as bedside RNs, and therefore should have excellent general nursing skills and medical knowledge. Since they are responsible for supervising other nurses, they also need to have strong supervisory and management abilities. Other qualifications generally required for a nurse administrator position include:
- Solid written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Current knowledge of new developments in nursing and healthcare practices
- Proven planning and budgeting abilities
- Thorough record-keeping practices
- Advanced training and education
- Ability to multi-task and maintain composure under stress
- Comfort in working with people from diverse backgrounds
- Effectiveness in delegating tasks and giving written and verbal instructions
- Ability to coordinate patient care through collaboration with different departments and units
- Flexibility in meeting the unique needs of patients
How to Prepare for This Career
To attain a position as a nurse administrator, candidates must have previous nursing experience as well as advanced education and training. While the minimum requirement is typically a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, employers usually give preference to RNs who hold or who are pursuing their MSN degree. An MSN in Nursing Administration can provide the knowledge and skills needed to handle the high level of responsibility associated with nurse management positions.
What Can You Expect to Earn As a Nurse Administrator?
Salaries for nurse administrator can vary by experience, education and location. Titles for nurse administrators can also vary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical and health services managers – which includes nurse administrators – was $81,850 as of May 2009. The middle 50% of professionals in this field earned between $63,700 and $105,980. While the lowest 10% had a yearly income at or below $49,750, the top 10% earned in excess of $140,300.
The BLS predicts that employment of medical and health services managers – including nurse administrators – will grow faster than the average for all occupations. Nurses with strong leadership skills and previous work experience will have the best job opportunities. Those who attain an MSN in Nursing Administration can prove they have the necessary education and ambition to succeed in a nurse administrator role.