Consider an online nursing administration degree if you are interested in both patient care and the business side of medicine. Nursing administration is a career for those who can see the bigger picture of health care organizations and the services that they provide. It is the perfect career for those who are interested in all the nooks and crannies of nursing and want to use their skills to organize effective teams of nursing staff.
This program focuses on the organizational and management aspects of the health services delivered by nurses. As a nursing administrator at a hospital, doctor’s office or care center, you’ll devise ways to provide efficient services for both staff and patients.
THE CAREER PATH
Nursing administrators are the professionals behind the scenes of all our health care agencies. They take on the managerial, administrative, and business side of the nursing industry in order to implement and expand patient services. Nursing administrators learn most of their skills through hands-on experience. For that reason, it is common for nursing administrators to gain years of experience before taking on administrative responsibilities. Many professionals begin their careers as registered nurses, where they are able to gain a deeper understanding of the daily tasks that nurses perform and the challenges that they encounter.
Nursing administrators will apply their learned skills to a variety of responsibilities that they may encounter as professionals, such as:
- Directing, supervising, and evaluating staff work activity
- Developing and implementing organizational policies and procedures
- Preparing activity reports to keep management up to date
- Maintaining communication between hierarchical management structures and department staff
- Maintaining an awareness of advances in medicine, computerized diagnostic and treatment equipment, data processing technology, government regulations, health insurance changes, and financing options
If you already have a degree, you may want to consider an advanced nursing administration program to boost your career. Being in such an influential role pays quite nicely, as well—the average salary for nursing administrators is $94,000. Employment in this field is also projected to be favorable, with a 17% job growth rate, much faster than the national average. Aging populations and new medical technology means healthcare providers—and their administrators—should remain in high demand. Related programs include the online public health degree and health informatics degree online.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Individuals who become nursing administrators are usually passionate about nursing from the beginning of their career. They have a desire to extend beyond direct patient care to lead nursing staff and influence patient services and health policies. Students considering careers as nursing administrators should be driven by self-motivation to succeed and advance healthcare. Nursing administration demands leadership and interpersonal skills in addition to the ability to be analytical and to understand the technicalities of both the medical side and business aspects of nursing.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
The vast majority of nursing administrators begin their career as registered nurses with varying educational backgrounds. However, all registered nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
Because of this, there are very few (if any!) nursing administration bachelor degrees. Most that go on to pursue a nursing administration master’s degree have already been working in the administration field for a period of time. If you have a bachelor’s in nursing then you can advance your nursing administration career with a master’s. Once you complete your master’s, then you can go on to get certified as a nursing administrator. If you became an RN by earning your associate degree, you can consider a certificate in nursing administration to break into the field.
Advanced education helps to prepare nurses for the administrative arena through courses like:
- Public Policy in Health Care
- Health Care Finance
- Quality Management in Nursing & Health Care
- Leadership in Health Care Environment
- Theories of Health Care Administration
Nursing administrators must demonstrate their knowledge and skills through certification in order to be fully qualified for the profession. Accredited associations, such as the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) of the American Nurses Association (ANA), administer various certifications to suit nursing administrators. Some of the options for certifications include:
- Nurse Executive – Board Certified (NE-BC)
- Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML)
- Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP)
The best nursing administration programs will thoroughly prepare students for these licenses and examinations. When choosing between programs, students should watch for programs that include certification examinations in their curriculum.
The average cost for an online master’s degree in nursing is around $22,000, including all fees. Certification exams will have an independent cost that is not included in this estimate. Many programs will also require different expenditures on materials for the classes, so it is wise for students to consider the different costs that may contribute to the overall price of the program. Many schools provide the estimated cost of textbooks for the entire program.