Nurse administrators are nurses who hold at least a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) or higher. For the most part, nurse administrators hold a master's degree in nursing (MSN) which is quickly becoming the standard. Nurse administrators usually work away from bedside care and focus on the overall operations and fiscal management of a facility or healthcare organization.

While nurse administrators typically don't provide hands-on care that staff nurses do, they do interact with patients. For example, they sometimes present to emergent situations (outside of Code Blues) such as security concerns, patient behavioral concerns, and internal or external disasters (such as facility-wide power outages or a significant accident or disease outbreak in a community). Again, while they do not usually provide hands-on care, they may present to help direct the team in health care delivery.

Sometimes, nurse administrators deal with patients face-to-face in cases of quality concerns or escalated patient complaints. When there are significant patient care events (such as a medical error leading to injury or death), it is beyond what a charge nurse, nurse manager, or even sometimes a department manager's scope. Nurse administrators must work to investigate the error and sometimes speak with the patient or family.

Not all face-to-face interactions are in cases of disasters or clinical concerns or errors. Some nurse administrators round on patients just to see how they are doing, how they feel about their care, and how they can help them while in the hospital or clinic. Rounding with patients allows nurse administrators to get out on the front lines of health care and identify any patient or staff needs.

While nurse administrators are further up the clinical ladder than staff nurses, and may not provide routine direct patient care, they are still nurses. They have a firm understanding of the nursing process and their organization's policies and procedures and can serve as a great resource to staff and provide solutions to many various patient care concerns.