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What Is a Nurse Administrator?

As providers of patient care, healthcare systems are also businesses. Nurses are needed to oversee and facilitate the administrative operations of healthcare facilities. The responsibilities of a nurse administrator can vary depending on where they work. A growing aging patient population with multiple chronic conditions is driving the increased demand for nurse administrators. Most employers prefer hiring nurse administrators with a Master of Science (MSN) degree.

What Is a Nurse Administrator?

Nurse administrators typically start in nursing as RNs. After gaining sufficient clinical experience and additional education, they become eligible for leadership positions in the healthcare industry. Typically, a nurse administrator may be an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and supervise nurse managers. Nurse administrators have in-depth knowledge of legal regulations and facility procedures. They also understand budgeting and financial reporting. They might hold positions such as first-line managers, middle managers, supervisors or top-level directors. Their titles can include:

  • Charge Nurse
  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Nurse Executive

What Does a Nurse Administrator Do?

The job of a nurse administrator is to make sure a healthcare facility provides safe patient care while functioning in a cost-effective manner. Nurse administrators support a stable and efficient environment through managing personnel, finances and protocol compliance. They can:

  • Recruit, hire and fire nurses
  • Schedule shifts
  • Collaborate with nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Evaluate nurses’ job performance
  • Carry out disciplinary action if necessary
  • Act as a liaison between administration and nursing staff
  • Maintain budgets
  • Serve on committees
  • Set policy and procedures
  • Recommend policy changes
  • Uphold the mission of the healthcare organization

What Skills Do Nurse Administrators Need?

Nurse administrators must have exceptional clinical knowledge, strong leadership skills and a keen business sense. They should also be authoritative, adaptable to changes and good at resolving conflicts. Efficient nurses administrators:

  • Multitask well
  • Listen attentively
  • Solve problems by assessing risks, determining best practices and making improvements
  • Excel at communication, cooperation and collaboration
  • Mentor and motivate nursing staff
  • Plan, organize, schedule and budget

Where Do Nurse Administrators Work?

Nurse administrators find employment in a variety of settings:

  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Nursing homes
  • Private physician offices
  • Urgent care centers

How Can You Become a Nurse Administrator?

The minimum level of preparation is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, most healthcare employers prefer an MSN with a focus on administration. To be eligible for an administrator position, requirements include being a licensed registered nurse and having clinical experience.

Nursing administration is challenging but also rewarding. It gives nurses an opportunity to move away from the bedside but still focus on patient outcomes. The average salary for head nurses in the United States ranges from $96,000 to $116,000 per year, per September 2018 data. In addition, nurse administrators can guide nursing staff and help a healthcare organization achieve financial success while adhering to industry standards and providing quality patient care.

Learn more about NSU’s online MSN in Administrative Leadership in Nursing program.


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