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How to become a nurse administrator

At a glance

  • A nurse administrator is a trained registered nurse who works in a managerial position to handle scheduling, staffing and more.
  • To become a nurse administrator, you must obtain nursing licensure and have extensive experience as a registered nurse; some employers require an advanced nursing degree at the master’s or doctoral level.
  • When seeking an open position, network! Explore whether your nursing degree program has career advisors or job boards that can help you.
  • University of Phoenix can prepare registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree to take the next step toward a career in nursing administration. Explore the online Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Nurse Administration degree program!

Nurse administrators are critical to the functioning of any healthcare organization, facility or system, from adhering to patient safety standards to providing guidance and direction on clinical practices and implementation of policies. They also work with other healthcare professionals to ensure proper use of resources and efficient workflow.

Ultimately, nurse administrators provide nursing leadership that encourages collaboration between departments within an organization, setting clear expectations for nursing staff and promoting best practices within the system. They’re an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem.

Explore degrees that expand your skills and prepare you to lead in nursing. 

Understanding the role

Nurse administrators are responsible for the overall management and operation of nursing services that aid the nursing team from entry-level to executive-level positions in a healthcare facility. To do this well, they must possess strong leadership skills, knowledge of healthcare regulations and practices, and a working understanding of the organization’s goals and objectives.

Common duties include:

  • Overseeing the management and operations of nurses, resources and facilities
  • Promoting best practices in patient care
  • Developing a strategic vision for the hospital or department
  • Maintaining the budget and reporting on financial matters
  • Developing and enforcing policies and procedures
  • Providing leadership and guidance to nursing staff
  • Overseeing patient care standards and quality
  • Recruiting and hiring nurses

While they do not directly work with patients, nurse administrators must thoroughly understand nursing practices, protocols and clinical procedures to ensure quality care.

Experience and credentials required of nurse administrators

To become a nurse administrator, formal experience is typically required. First, you must obtain licensure as a nurse, then experience as a registered nurse (RN). It’s also important to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), followed by a master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in Nurse Administration (MSN) or a similar graduate degree.

In pursuing degrees in nursing, you can gain skills in areas such as:

  • Advanced practice nursing — Analyze the application of nursing theories in research, leadership and evidence-based practice.
  • Advanced pharmacology — Synthesize evidence addressing the legal and ethical guidelines for safe medication practice.
  • Leadership and health policy — Be familiar with the laws and regulations that apply to nursing practice.
  • Healthcare management — Learn how to effectively manage nursing services and personnel.
  • Information technology — Nurses use IT skills and programs in a variety of ways, including data entry and to evaluate information within informatics systems
  • Healthcare analytics — Gain an understanding of data-driven decision-making.

Nurse administrator skills

Becoming a nursing administrator typically involves a combination of nursing experience and advanced nursing education, such as a BSN or MSN. All of this is designed to impart a certain skill set that pertains to the role, which includes:

  • Strong leadership and communication
  • Knowledge of healthcare trends, regulations, policies and procedures 
  • Financial management
  • Strategic planning, decision-making and goal setting
  • Data analytics and management
  • Project management and problem-solving
  • Patient-centered care

These skills can be honed in a higher education degree program, such as a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Nurse Administration

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A look at soft skills vs. hard skills for nurses

A few other steps nurse administrators can take to enhance their skills and career include:

  • Seeking membership in nursing organizations, such as the American Organization for Nurse Leadership or the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
  • Reading relevant books and periodicals to stay up to date on healthcare trends
  • Joining online nursing groups to get advice from others in nursing administration roles

These activities can help nurses gain diverse experience and prepare for an administrative role.

Continuing your education

Having the proper certifications and experience is essential for nursing administrators, but staying up to date on healthcare trends and regulations is also important. To do this, nursing administrators should take advantage of continuing education opportunities, such as professional seminars and workshops.

Ultimately, nursing administration can be a gratifying profession and requires dedication, hard work and preparation. By taking the time to gain experience and stay current on industry trends, nursing administrators can best prepare for changes that may occur.

Earn your degree at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in developing the skills to be a better nurse leader, a degree from University of Phoenix can help. The University offers a Registered Nurse (RN) to BSN degree, RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Competency Based-CB)

and a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a concentration in Nurse Administration. These programs help registered nurses prepare to enhance their nursing career by teaching sought-after skills that can help them become leaders who impact organizational change. To learn more about the RN-to-BSN program or other related programs, visit the University of Phoenix website.

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A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.


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