Becoming a Nurse Administrator

NursingOctober 29, 2013

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, through 2020 nursing will be one of the fastest growing professions in the labor force. Beyond solid employment prospects, another benefit of working in the nursing profession is the variety of work opportunities and career paths that lie ahead for you. Keep in mind that although it is central to everything the profession is about, nursing is not limited to clinical work with patients. A wide assortment of settings need a nurse administrator.

What Nurse Administrators Do


Nurse administrators manage hospital nursing units, home health services, long term care and many other facilities. Others may work as educators, researchers or consultants. Much of the managerial work performed by administrative nurses depends on the mission of the unit, department or facility he/she heads up.

Leadership will usually be your primary function, and this may involve a combination of hands-on nursing work or being limited to tasks only you can perform, such as scheduling staff, managing budgets and developing policies. You may also be responsible for hiring and training staff, advocating for their needs and handling discipline issues. Managers also serve as spokespersons and lead meetings.

Administrators work demanding hours that might include being on call 24/7. They are responsible for making decisions affecting both staff, patients, families and visitors. They are highly influential in the successful operation of a unit or facility.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Your first step towards a nursing administration career begins with obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Nursing schools are competitive. Once accepted, you must commit to four years of undergraduate training. After licensure, you may choose to work a few years before pursuing graduate education. Or you might begin immediate work in a mid-level nurse management position requiring a BSN only, but some experience is preferred and normally required.

Alternatively, your path may lead you straight from receiving your BSN into graduate school. A master's degree in nursing (MSN), usually in some specialized field, including administration, requires two years of advanced education. Being a nurse administrator revolves around years of coursework and field internship, as well as leadership skills.

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