While there are many routes to becoming a nurse administrator, some choose to do so through a balance of experience, advanced education, and specialized certification. Often referred to as “healthcare leadership”, “executive nursing”, or “medical and health services management”, nursing administration is a field in which nurses advance their skills, knowledge, and practice.
How to Become a Nursing Administrator
Nurse administration graduate programs may help registered nurses (RNs) gain the knowledge and experience necessary to pursue potential career opportunities in leadership, administrative, and management positions within the healthcare industry. Through part-time, full-time, or accelerated study, RNs complete coursework, practicums, and research to become develop advanced skills in the field of nursing administration. From there, registered nurses might choose to secure additional certification to become Executive-Board Certified (NE-BC), Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP), or a Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML). Depending on their desired certificate, their level or education and experience, and the demands of their employers, RNs might be able to earn advanced certification before, during, or after earning graduate-level education.
The Goals of a Nursing Administration Graduate Program
One way to become a nurse administrator is to earn a nursing administration degree from an accredited institution. The primary goal of nursing administration programs is to prepare RNs to successfully respond to the increasing demands of a quickly-changing and fast-moving industry.
In nursing administration degree programs, graduate students learn how to manage the effective delivery of healthcare services across multiple settings and in numerous capacities. Through their studies, they not only sharpen their existing knowledge and skills in the field of nursing, they also develop the knowledge and skills necessary to assume leadership positions and to provide effective guidance and action in response to the demands of employees, employers, and the industry.
Some common learning objectives for nursing administration graduate programs include:
- Learning how to develop, manage, and maintain standards for work teams and provide quality care
- Learning how to develop and implement processes, programs, and initiatives in areas such as finances, patient care, and employee development and improvement
- Learning how to effectively train and support staff through program development, mentorship, and evaluation
- Learning how to improve individual and team performance and competency
- Learning how to facilitate communication amongst staff and between departments. In addition, learning how to effectively communicate objectives and expectations to staff
- Learning how to collaborate to solve problems and address conflicts
- Learning how to effectively facilitate change
- Learning how to build teams to effectively respond to demands and change
- Learning how to develop and maintain a successful working environment
- Learning how to balance the many expectations of nursing administrators
- Learning how to participate in and integrate research
Nursing Administration Programs
Nursing administration programs are commonly delivered in one of three modalities: as a specialty within a Master’s of Science in Nursing program (MSN); as a distinctly classified master’s program, such as a Master’s of Nursing Leadership program or a Master’s of Nursing Administration program; or as a part of a Master’s of Business Administration program (MBA) that concurrently awards an MBA and MSN.
Within each program type, students might be required to complete multiple levels of supervised practicum, write a faculty-guided thesis or dissertation, and complete 40-80 hours of core and elective coursework. Students might also be required to complete a comprehensive exam or earn certification prior to graduation.
Nursing Administration Courses
Some common courses RNs take in nursing administration programs include:
- Statistics for health professions
- Research in nursing
- Nursing issues and trends
- Budgeting and finances for health professionals
- Nursing informatics
- Nursing administration, leadership, and management
- Nursing administration (theory and practicum)
- Operations planning and control
Additionally, many programs require students to develop their advanced-practice skills through elective work and to take core courses in business, public health, and/or public administration. Such courses often help nurses specialize in or emphasize a particular area of nursing administration, leadership, and/or management.