What Is a Nurse Administrator?

Nursing administration encompasses a wide variety of executive-level nursing tasks. Nurse administrators typically manage staff in a series of medical departments or hospitals, and complete administrative tasks such as performance reviews, attending meetings, developing training and personnel procedures, and more. A nurse administrator typically reports directly to a hospital CEO and may oversee nurse managers. This role is typically office-based and managerial in nature, with little to no direct patient interaction.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are advanced-practice registered nurses (APRNs), meaning that they must hold a post-graduate nursing degree. Because nurse administrators manage staff and have high-level responsibilities, they must have extensive experience in nursing and impeccable leadership and management skills.

A typical nurse administrator job description can include any of the following:

  • Master's degree in nursing or healthcare administration
  • Valid nursing and CPR certification
  • Nursing leadership experience
  • Excellent knowledge of healthcare legal regulations and hospital procedures
  • Ability to lead and develop personnel
  • Outstanding communication and problem-solving skills
  • Understanding of basic budgeting and financial reporting

To search and apply for open nurse administrator positions, visit our job boards.

What Are the Education Requirements for Nurse Administrators?

Upon completing an undergraduate nursing degree program, such as a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN), and securing RN licensure via the NCLEX-RN exam, nurses are eligible to enter a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. While an MSN is usually sufficient for the role, some nurse administrators opt to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing (DNP). This is a specialty best suited for experienced nurses.

Read more on Master's in Nursing Administration programs.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

Most employers appreciate a nurse administrator with credentials. There are a few certifications available for this type of specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a Nurse Executive certification as well as a Nurse Executive-Advanced certification. The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) offers certification in Executive Nursing Practice. Eligibility for these certifications vary, but generally a nurse must hold a valid RN license, have held an administrative or management position, and have a certain number of recent continuing education credits. Read more for further clarify on nurse executive certifications.

Where Do Nurse Administrators Work?

Nurse administrators are most often employed at hospitals, though they generally work in offices and don't have a patient-facing role. Some nurse administrators oversee multiple hospitals within a system, so they may spend part of their time traveling from hospital to hospital. Nurse administrators may also be found in larger medical facilities, such as long-term care facilities.

What Does a Nurse Administrator Do?

Nurse administrators are a vital part of the executive team, overseeing nursing staff and handling personnel matters. They help develop policies and procedures, coordinate between nurses and other departments, and develop budgets. They make departmental decisions and generally set the tone for how things are run. Attending meetings and communicating with nursing staff and other hospital executives are a large part of their role.

What are the Roles and Duties of a Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are generally responsible for the following:

  • Recruiting, hiring, and training nurses
  • Conducting performance evaluations
  • Budgeting and reporting financial matters
  • Helping to decide what equipment must be purchased
  • Developing policies and procedures and making sure staff are compliant
  • Acting as a liaison between departments, nursing staff, and hospital executives
  • Developing a strategic vision for the hospital or department

Nurse Administrator Salary & Employment

As advanced-practice RNs, nurse administrators earn a median salary of roughly $81,033 annually, though pay can range between $58,518 and $121,870 per year. Salary is dependent on location, experience, credentials held, and other factors.

As the demand for registered nursing grows, nurse administrator job outlook remains good. Highly skilled and advanced nurses will always be needed for managerial and supervisory roles, and ambitious RNs can look to nursing administration jobs for higher pay and increased responsibility. Additionally, nurses who want more regular hours and are interested in an office-based environment might be suited to a nurse administrator role.

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Nurse Administrator FAQs

Nursing home administrators are also integral to the success of nursing homes. They are usually registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree or higher. They have many duties that are necessary to keep facilities running smoothly and efficiently. One job duty they are responsible for is staff oversight. They are responsible for hiring staff, ensuring the facility has an adequate staffing skill mix at all times (to include RNs, LPNs, and nurse aides). They must provide performance feedback to staff and ensure they follow all policies and procedures.

Nursing home administrators must also manage the budgetary and financial operations of the facility. They need to ensure they are getting paid for the services they provide from insurance companies and Medicare, as well as the budget for the facility. Managing the budget allows for equipment to be purchased and for the hiring of staff.

It is also the responsibility of the nursing home administrator to keep up-to-date on standards of care, government regulations, and legislation that affects this branch of healthcare. Not doing so can lead to inadequate care and possible legal ramifications.

Nursing home administrators must also handle day-to-day tasks such as handling patient and employee grievances, maintaining patient privacy consistent with current HIPAA laws, and managing and promoting infection control.

While nurse administrators typically don’t provide the 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 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. 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. Rounding with patients allows nurse administrators to get out on the front lines and identify any patient or staff needs.