How to Become a Nurse Administrator

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Nurses with advanced degrees may be wondering how to become a nurse administrator. If you’re a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduate with extensive professional experience, you may be ready to take the next step toward a career in nurse administration, which can include roles such as nursing director, nurse executive, nursing manager, or chief nursing officer. Some ambitious nurse administrators become vice presidents or presidents of nursing departments.

The online BSN to DNP program is an option for nurses who already have an MSN and are pursuing higher-level careers, such as nurse administrator. Part-time and online programs allow practicing nurses to handle coursework on a flexible timetable that accommodates work schedules and busy lifestyles.

 What Is a Nurse Administrator?

Nurse administrators are licensed registered nurses who are often the highest-ranking nursing professionals in their departments. They typically have complex responsibilities, like coordinating wide-scale projects and managing company resources. Preparing for such a role requires a holistic comprehension of nursing practice and healthcare systems, therefore a DNP degree may be necessary to qualify for this job.

Prerequisite Qualifications For Nurse Administrators

When considering how to become a nurse administrator, the primary goal should be securing extensive education and experience in the nursing field. To start, prospective nurse administrators must obtain their undergraduate degree and gain clinical experience. Earning their Master of Science in Nursing afterwards will help them start developing the executive skills they will need to transition into administrative roles in the future. MSN graduates should be eligible to apply for DNP programs, and those who strive to become nurse administrators should benefit greatly from doing so. With a DNP degree, 2-5 years in the field, and any relevant professionals certifications, nurses can make strides forward in their nurse administration career.

How Do DNP Programs Cultivate Successful Nurse Administrators?

As part of the DNP program, students will learn about health care finance, nursing theory, resource management, and resource and statistics. Students can pursue courses in areas of specialization like nursing education, gerontology, health informatics, health policy, integrative health, leadership, and global public health. Those who aspire to be nurse administrators will also want to develop some of the important interpersonal skills and traits necessary for success, such as organizational skills; written and oral communication; attention to detail; and the ability to delegate, make decisions, and handle difficult situations. In addition, students are assigned capstone projects, which provide a forum for students to evaluate important current issues that impact the health care industry and share their work with the health care community.

The MSN to DNP program is available in person or online and students can generally complete it in three to seven years depending on whether they enroll for a full- or part-time schedule.

Duties and Responsibilities

Nurse administrator is one of the most highly regarded positions in nursing. These professionals generally work in hospitals, health care organizations, and other health care environments. They are responsible for managing the entire nursing staff and thus have a number of important duties and responsibilities.

Nurse administrators spend most of their time overseeing the staff members in their departments and do not generally handle daily nursing tasks, delegating these duties to other nurses. Nurse administrator is a fast-paced, high-level position. They fulfill many different job functions and are expected to know about nursing and administrative functions.

Nurse administrators perform duties that are  necessary in all sizes of hospitals and clinics, include scheduling, budgeting, human resource management, planning and administering clinical programs, organizing the nursing staff, supervision, and disciplinary actions.

Nurse administrators can apply their skills and knowledge to improve the patient experience in their immediate department and across their entire organizations. They can improve resource allocations and provide leadership and education to clinical staff and the next generation of nurses. In addition, they can set policy, set department and organization priorities, and improve the health of large populations.

Salary and Benefits

Nurse administrator roles are highly sought-after. For those who want to know how to become a nurse administrator, it is important to realize that having the highest level of education is often beneficial to compete for these jobs.

The salary for a nurse administrator varies depending on length of time in the job, experience, and education, among other factors. According to PayScale, about half of nurse administrators have been in their positions for more than 10 years. The average yearly salary is about $81,000.

Learn More

The difference between MSN and DNP degrees is in the levels of education and responsibility that each one provides. When considering graduate school to pursue the MSN or DNP degrees, it’s important to consider both the school’s curriculum and how the program will fit into your life and work schedule. At Regis College, our online MSN to DNP degree program offers rigorous instruction, a deep academic curriculum, and a flexible online learning platform.

Recommended Reading

The Difference Between MSN and DNP Degrees

Understanding the Basics: Doctor of Nursing Practice vs. Ph.D.

An Online MSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner Curriculum at a Glance



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