Frequently Asked Questions about Nursing Administration

The field of nurse administration is broad and diverse, leading many people to ask questions in an attempt to determine their next career move. Following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

What is the difference between a nurse administrator and a medical administrator?

A nurse administrator must be a Registered Nurse and have earned a bachelor’s degree at minimum. They must be licensed and often times have a graduate degree and additional certification[i]. Nurse administrators might work in medical and healthcare facilities to develop and manage staff and policies, enact research and change, and respond to issues and challenges. They commonly work directly with nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other staff to ensure facilities run efficiently and effectively. Nurse administrators often perform duties related to the areas of business and patient care.

A medical administrator typically has a certificate or bachelor’s degree in medical administration, business, or a related field. They are not required to be licensed but they are required to earn at least a bachelor’s degree[i]. Medical administrators might perform duties related to marketing, billing, customer service, and patient records. They might also facilitate communication between staff, departments, and facilities. Unlike nurse administrators, medical administrators focus primarily on business without a direct focus on patient care.

What is the median annual salary for nurse administrators?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers earn a median salary of $88,580 annually with bachelor’s degree-level education[ii].

How many medical and health services managers are employed in the United States?

As of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 census, 315,500 people were employed in the medical and health services managers industry, which includes nurse administrators[iii].

Are jobs for medical and health services managers growing?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the medical and health services managers, which includes nurse administrators, industry will grow by 23% (much faster than average) between 2012 and 2020[iii].

Do you have to have a nursing license to enroll in a nurse administration graduate program?

The majority of the time, nurses must have a current nursing license in the state in which they practice to enroll in a nurse administration graduate program. In some cases, however, professionals can wait until they begin their practicums within the program. To determine whether or not you need licensure to enroll in your preferred program, review the program’s admissions requirements and speak to a counselor. Requirements vary by state and institution.[i]

What is the difference between a nurse administrator and a nursing home administrator?

Nursing home administrators do much of the same work as nurse administrators, but they do so within a nursing home (while nurse administrators might work within or across a variety of settings). Because of this, nursing home administrators might have education and experience more relevant to nursing homes while nursing administrators might have education and experience in a wider array of areas. Both nurse administrators and nursing home administrators must be licensed RNs with bachelor’s degrees in the field (at minimum)[i].

What are some common courses in a nurse administration graduate program?

People in nurse administration graduate programs commonly complete core and elective coursework in subjects such as:

  • Statistics
  • Research and writing in the field of nursing
  • Nursing issues and trends
  • Budgeting and finances
  • Nursing informatics
  • Nursing administration, leadership, and management
  • Nursing administration (theory and practicum)
  • Operations planning and control

In addition, students often develop their knowledge and skills through courses in business, public health, and/or public administration. Students focus their studies through coursework, practicums, directed research, and examination and/or certification.

What type of skills do you need to have to pursue a career as a nurse administrator?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who want to work as nurse administrators should have the following skills and characteristics:

  • Analytical skills. Medical and health services managers must be able to understand and follow current regulations and be able to adapt to new laws.
  • Communication skills. These managers must be able to communicate effectively with other health professionals.
  • Detail oriented. Medical and health services managers must pay attention to detail. They might be required to organize and maintain scheduling and billing information for very large facilities, such as hospitals.
  • Interpersonal skills. Medical and health services managers need to be able to discuss staffing problems and patient information with other professionals, such as physicians and health insurance representatives. They must be able to motivate and lead staff.
  • Problem-solving skills. These managers are often responsible for finding creative solutions to staffing or other administrative problems.
  • Technical skills. Medical and health services managers must be able to follow advances in healthcare technology. For example, they may need to use coding and classification software and electronic health record (EHR) systems as their facility adopts these technologies.[i]

masters programs in nursing administration


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6

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