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Nurse Administrator Salary

April 10, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Nurse administration is a skyrocketing healthcare field. It has a multitude of opportunities for nurses with powerful communication and leadership skills and a burning desire to mold the direction of patient care. As opposed to seeing patients, nurse administrators monitor other nurses regarding policies, staffing, and budgets. 

A nurse administrator is one of the vast assortments of nursing specialties. It can encompass various roles such as nursing director, charge nurse, and nurse manager. Each role combines administrative with business skills. If you’re looking to become a nurse administrator, this guide will walk you through your potential earnings, the required education, your roles, and much more. 

Responsibilities of a Nurse Administrator

Nursing leadership professionals must be able to come up with a successful vision for the organization. It’s also their responsibility to nurture a collaborative relationship among interdepartmental nursing staff and management in a bid to implement their vision. 

A nurse leader must implement problem-solving and analytical skills every day and deliver direct healthcare mentorship and guidance to their unit nurses. Doing so acts as a liaison between nursing staff, the nurse executive team, and different management levels. 

Typically, a nurse administrator is responsible for managing staff, financial resources, business, and large-scale policy planning, alongside the supervision and coordination of healthcare delivery. 

Given that the nursing definition has evolved to include home healthcare, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, and surgical centers, so has the role of a clinical nurse leader. It’s, therefore, no surprise that a healthcare administrator is now responsible for the management of interdisciplinary services and contract negotiations.

The daily duties of a nurse administrator are:

  • Overseeing and arranging the training of nursing staff
  • Suggesting structural and policy changes
  • Ensuring the implementation of structural and policy changes
  • Monitoring nursing staff to ensure the proper delivery of healthcare
  • Ensuring budgetary and budget compliance
  • Delegating responsibilities and tasks to nursing staff and planning work schedules 

There’s no denying that a nurse manager requires strong leadership and communication skills and must be adept at resource coordination and personnel alongside meeting goals. They must display excellent nursing leadership skills by striking a balance between the healthcare administrator and the nursing staff. 

A nursing home administrator’s duties are considerable and vary from one facility to another based on the managerial structure, focus, size, and level of healthcare. Typically, this position acts as the director of the organization and is responsible for all business and patient care decisions. 

Particularly, the duties of a nursing home administrator are:

  • Management of the day-to-day operations of the organization and keeping track of its long-term mission and goals
  • Providing and coordinating nursing leadership to each clinical nurse leader, custodial, and managerial team, and ensuring they work together efficiently
  • Staffing employees at each level
  • Making sure the facility functions in compliance with all federal, local, and state regulations
  • Coordinate with clinical staff to make sure the care plans for the residents are being adhered to
  • Delivering regular compliance and safety training
  • Formulating and maintaining a budget
  • Overseeing billing and set fees
  • Acting as the ‘face’ of the facility to the residents’ families, the public, and a liaison between the nursing staff and residents

Given the 24/7 nature of nursing homes, it’s no surprise that a nursing home administrator works more than 40 hours per week and non-standard hours. They may be on-call for holidays, night shifts, and weekends. Their role doesn’t entail clinical work as they spend most of their time interacting with staff, residents, and families in meetings. 

Therefore, they must possess impressive skills in stress management, professionalism, calmness, patience, and time management. They must also have an in-depth understanding of the business and clinical aspects of running acute care or nursing organization. 

Average Salary for a Nurse Administrator

As the demand for healthcare professionals soars, a nurse administrator can delight in higher-than-average compensation and increased career options over the next 10 years. Nonetheless, salary and job prospects differ by credentials, location, and experience. 

Although the Bureau Labor of Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide a certain occupational report for nursing administration, the facility presents data for any registered nurse, health services and medical manager, and nurse executive. These categories include a nurse executive. 

The BLS predicts a considerably higher salary and employment growth rate for these occupational fields. A registered nurse who earns an annual mean salary of about $71,730 can expect a 12% increment in employment through 2028. 

Within this timeframe, the BLS anticipates an 18% growth rate in health and medical services managerial positions. A nurse manager earns an average salary of about $111,680 annually, with the top 10% earning well over $175,000. 

A healthcare manager and registered nurse experience the greatest employment levels in densely-populated states such as Pennsylvania, California, and Texas. The metropolitan areas around Boston, San Francisco, and New York offer the highest salary. 

According to the BLS, a nurse administrator salary is 49% more than that of a registered nurse who earns an average salary of $77,460 annually. Except for a nurse anesthetist, a nurse administrator usually has a higher average salary than nurses in other advanced job positions such as:

  • Nurse practitioner: $111,840
  • Nurse educator: $83,160
  • Nurse midwife: $106,910
  • Nurse anesthetist: $181,040

The highest-paid registered nurse jobs are:

1. Certified Nurse Anesthetist

It’s consistently ranking as the highest-paid nursing career with an average salary that ranks from $236,400 to $266,260. A nurse anesthetist is a highly-skilled and advanced registered nurse who closely works with medical personnel during procedures that require anesthesia. 

Due to the complexities surrounding this type of medical care, an anesthetist is more susceptible to lawsuits and must therefore be entirely comfortable in their field. 

2. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

According to salary.com, Neonatal Nurse Practitioners’ average salary is $125,000 annually, which translates to $50 per hour. Neonatal nursing salaries in the top 10th percentile can soar to as much as $145,000 or more. There’s a constant high demand for neonatal nurses. 

As a highly fruitful specialty, it encompasses caring for newborn babies up to 28 days old. A nurse in this specialty can care for premature or sick newborn babies by administering medication, oxygen, and various NICU procedures. 

3. Cardiac Nurses 

The average salary of a cardiac nurse is $55 per hour or $114,000 annually. Their job description entails conducting in-depth cardiovascular assessments on patients that may suffer from chronic heart-related illnesses. 

After two years of work experience as a registered nurse, you can apply to take the cardio nursing exam that the ACCN administers. Cardiac nurses can find increasing work opportunities in home care, long-term rehabilitation, and residential care settings. 

4. Orthopedic Nurses

Although the average salary of orthopedic nurses is $54 hourly or $113,000 per year, it can reach $127,000 or more. They provide special care to patients suffering from musculoskeletal system-related injuries or diseases. An orthopedic nurse collaborates with a physician to help patients recuperate from surgery, recover from injury, and regain full mobility. 

A registered nurse can advance to a qualified orthopedic nurse by earning a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) and acquiring more than 2000 hours of experience under their belt. At this point, they apply to take the certification exam provided by the Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB). 

5. Oncology Nurse

The average salary of qualified oncology nurses is about $54 hourly or $113,000 to $121,000, or more, annually. Oncology nurses team up with surgeons and physicians to help cancer patients with their treatments. They deliver support, care, and education to a patient and their caregiver during their treatment.

6. General Nurses

According to the BLS, a general nurse earns anywhere between $112,000 and $152,000 or more annually, which translates to an hourly rate of $53. They can establish long-lasting connections with their patients through the provision of fundamental preventative healthcare. 

Although they typically work in family practices, a general nurse uses their profession in pediatrics, adult practices, women’s health, and a multitude of other healthcare organizations. In turn, this makes general nursing a versatile career. 

7. Family Nurse

The average salary of a family nurse is $53 per hour, or $110,000 to $128,000 or more, annually. Specialized in advanced practice nursing (APN) and clinical training in family practice, a family nurse is qualified to work with children and adults in clinical settings. 

8. Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS)

The average salary of a clinical nurse specialist is $52 per hour or anywhere between $108,000 and $127,000 or more, yearly. Also commonly referred to as a Critical Care Nurse, a CNS can respond quickly under pressure and has impressive decision-making skills. They provide patients with special care through the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, diseases, and ailments. 

Given that the demand for all nurses is expected to grow exponentially by the time 2029 rolls around, a CNS will have a leg up on other nursing pathways because of their high level of training and education. 

9. Psychiatric Nurse

The average salary of qualified psychiatric nurses ranges from $107,000 to $127,000 or more, annually or $52 hourly. In this field, a nurse treats patients suffering from a vast assortment of mental and psychiatric disorders, usually at a correctional facility or mental health center. 

They deliver life-changing and vital care to patients by offering daily spiritual, physiological, emotional, and mental support. By providing counseling coupled with medical treatment that patients can take solace in, this career emotionally and financially rewarding. 

10. Pediatric Nurses

The average salary of a pediatric nurse is $52 per hour, which translates to anywhere between $107,000 and $117,000 annually. Pediatric nurses have the fulfilling job of treating children while supporting their ongoing development and growth. 

A pediatric nurse can find employment as a school nurse and at various facilities such as urgent care and ICUs. It’s essential for pediatric nurses to comfortably communicate with their young patients and caregivers.

Qualities of a Successful Nurse Administrator

A nurse executive supervises a team of nurses alongside providing support to patients, other administrators, and physicians. The five qualities discussed below are the markers of an effective nurse administrator. To become a qualified nursing administrator, coursework in healthcare administration, and an advanced degree in nursing administration are mandatory. 

1. Orientation to Detail

A nurse administrator must be oriented to the details of every scenario and may need to handle the billing for nursing services. They may also coordinate the scheduling of a large team of nursing staff. A hospital administrator is responsible for ensuring that each staff nurse is up to date with the required licensure and education. Additionally, they are required to attend many administrative meetings. 

2. Powerful Interpersonal Communication

An effective nursing leader must have excellent interpersonal skills. Successful people in this role have mastered the art of communicating in written form and orally. A nurse executive may need to speak with physicians, patients, their families, other hospital administrators, and nurses. They need to do so with utmost clarity, respect, and accuracy. 

3. Leadership Skills 

As a supervisor, a nurse administrator must have solid leadership nursing leadership. It entails training, interviewing, and hiring new nursing staff, leading them through challenging situations, finding workable solutions to staffing problems that may crop up in the healthcare facility. In the realm of hospital administration, the nurse administrator must also represent the entire nursing staff and advocate for their respective needs. 

4. Analytical Skills

Nursing leadership involves keeping up with all the changes in the laws that govern healthcare. A nurse leader must remain up-to-date with the insurance changes for patient care. Given that each hospital has its code of conduct, the chief nursing officer must ensure that the nursing staff is abiding by it. 

A nurse manager may play a role in developing the conduct code for the nursing staff and employee training. They are responsible for staff training exercises, cost-effectiveness, and care procedures for in-patients. A nurse administrator may require reviewing data that infection control practitioners and health departments provide. 

5. Technology Skills

According to the BLS, a chief nursing officer must be tech-savvy. They may need to rely on data analysis software to evaluate patient care procedures and nursing staff scheduling issues. Given that most healthcare facilities have evolved to electronic records, the nurse manager must be adept at navigating the software and keeping up with its changes and upgrades. 

A multitude of regulations surround the use of technology in health care, more so when it comes to safeguarding patient information and privacy. Nursing administration involves staff coaching on various aspects of the field. A nurse administrator may also need to use billing and coding software. Most medical centers have separate scheduling systems for nursing administration. 

Most people pursue a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) to bolster leadership traits to climb the ladder in their careers. Entering a graduate degree nursing program can get a nurse the much-needed education in the following ways. 

For starters, completing online RN programs can open doors to higher-level management positions that demand excellent nursing leadership skills. Secondly, a clinical nurse leader, nurse administrator, and nurse educator must thrive in critical decision-making, a job responsibility that students usually prepare for with continued learning. 

Thirdly, a foolproof way that a nursing program instills leadership skills in students is through the curriculum. Great online administration programs focus on the soft skills that encompass leadership, such as mindfulness, interpersonal communication, and decisiveness. They also delve into how leadership is interwoven in nursing. 

Lastly, learning about leadership is merely the tip of the iceberg. Gaining experience in applying health informatics is the crucial part. A graduate nursing administration program often satisfies this requirement by offering practicum opportunities for students. 

Such opportunities allow a student to deploy their leadership skills in the innovation of patient care, research, or organizational improvements, and practical settings. The acquisition of an MSN is essential for advancing your career as a registered nurse.

How to Find a Job as a Nurse Administrator

You can become an administrative nurse in the following steps. 

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A diploma, bachelor’s degree, or associate’s degree in nursing is the key to becoming a registered nurse. It’s through enrolling in these programs that you’ll learn medical skills such as maternity support, patient health assessment, pediatric care, medication distribution alongside fundamental nursing procedures. 

Although some employers allow graduates with associate’s degrees or diplomas to become a nurse manager, advanced positions such as administrative nurse usually require a bachelor’s degree. 

Step 2: Become a Registered Nurse

While all states mandate licensure for registered nurses, the eligibility requirements differ from one state to another. Nonetheless, as a prospective registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). For license renewal, retesting and continuing education is a requirement. 

Step 3: Consider a Master’s Degree in Nursing 

It’s no secret that some employers gravitate towards applicants that have a master’s degree in nursing and specialized in a nursing administration program. Graduates of these programs must possess the much-needed skills and knowledge in business administration and the practical clinical expertise to test for voluntary certification as a nursing director. 

Some online administration programs offer graduate certificates for those that have a 4-year degree under their belt. It can be valuable if you’re unable to commit to a full academic curriculum. 

Step 4: Nursing Practice

Some employers expect administrative nurses to have adequate nursing practice over and above the required education. An academic program with specialized studies in nursing administration usually exposes students to the responsibilities and duties of a nurse leader. 

Healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals also provide internship opportunities or training on the job to a registered nurse in administration and management. 

Step 5: Acquire Certification

The American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) and other facilities offer certification for a nurse executive. An applicant must be a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in addition to relevant nursing practice and administration experience. Although professional certification isn’t mandatory, it undoubtedly depicts a nurse’s proficiency in leadership and can usher in a boatload of job opportunities.

As you progress in your career, you may take on more responsibilities or realize you’ve moved into a leadership role. It’s through career advancement that nurse administrators can determine their career goals. For instance, they may begin with registered nurse supervisor roles, evolve into a registered nurse case manager, and end up as a nursing director. 

How to Stay Informed In Nursing Administration 

You can keep up with trends and issues that crop up in this field by subscribing to journals, following social media accounts, and joining organizations for nurse administrators. The American Organization for Nurse Leadership (AONL) is a great starting point. It advocates for continuing education, nurse administrators, and ushers in networking opportunities. 

Let’s explore other resources that are worth your consideration. 

  • The Journal of Healthcare Leadership: It publishes peer-viewed research that is solely dedicated to leadership in healthcare. 
  • The Organization of Nurse Leaders: As a Twitter account, it provides a wealth of knowledge and conferences about nursing administration. 
  • The Nursing Management Podcast: It interviews many nursing administrators on the latest developments in the field. 
  • Emerging Registered Nurse Leader: It’s a blog solely for nurses in pursuit of leadership roles. 

Nurse Administrator vs Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

One of the main aspects that differentiate a CNL from a nurse administrator is the level of education required for each role. The requirements for a nurse administrator can differ based on the position and healthcare facility. 

Given that most have a Master’s degree of Science in Nursing (MSN), you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) and experience as a nurse manager. It will help an aspiring nurse administrator acquire a conceptual understanding of the foundation of the professional standards, policies, and practices of nursing required to be successful in this role. 

Contrarily, a CNL doesn’t require educational leeway. They must have a master’s degree, coupled with a Clinical Nurse Leader Certification from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). 

Aside from education, another aspect that sets a CNL and nurse administrator apart is the daily responsibilities. Unlike a nurse administrator, a CNL directly provides patient care. They may also mentor nursing staff, oversee complex procedures, and work to implement the best practices by introducing changes to patient care models and measuring their outcomes. 

Although a nurse administrator may team up with a CNL on some of these tasks, a CNL isn’t usually involved in executing tasks such as hiring, scheduling, and budgeting. That’s the work of a nurse administrator. 

Types of Nurse Administrators

You can take on a myriad of various roles under a nursing administrator’s umbrella, each with different levels of responsibility and tasks. 

1. Nurse Shift Supervisor, Charge Nurse, and Nurse Shift Leader

These titles are given to nurses who manage or supervise other nursing staff in a department. Their roles include:

  • Making sure policies are adhered to
  • Coming up with schedules
  • Training new staff
  • Handling nursing staff, including call-offs
  • Analyzing patient treatment plans
  • Overseeing the admission and discharge of patients 

A charge nurse usually doesn’t deliver direct patient care. Nonetheless, they may step in during an emergency. You’ll find them in nursing facilities, hospitals, and other healthcare centers with nursing units. 

2. Nurse Manager

Although they have the same responsibilities as a charge nurse, they are usually in charge of personnel matters such as staff evaluations and hiring. A nurse manager is also responsible for their unit at all times. Their tasks entail:

  • Training nursing staff
  • Ordering supplies and budgeting
  • Fast response to a crisis
  • Working with a team on severe patient cases
  • Scheduling leave requests
  • Handling patient concerns
  • Elevating the quality of patient care 

Although a nurse manager doesn’t offer direct patient care, they may interact with patients effectively handle complaints or concerns. 

3. Nursing Director

It’s a leadership position that entails overseeing several nursing units. As a nursing director, you’ll take on various responsibilities, such as:

  • Assessment of staffing needs
  • Coming up with job descriptions
  • The implementation of assurance programs and quality control
  • Meeting with other healthcare facility leaders
  • Handling terminations and other staff issues
  • Modifying department policies
  • Planning department budgets 

A nursing director formulates and implements various changes, including elevating patient care and safety. They can also serve as the nursing department’s face, communicating with the public, patients and their families, and facility leaders. 

4. Chief Nursing Officer 

Working at the executive level in healthcare facilities, a chief nursing officer uses their knowledge to ensure the efficiency of operations and balancing top-notch patient care with budgetary concerns. Their daily responsibilities include: 

  • Conduct quality assessments
  • Serving as a liaison between other departments and leaders in the facility
  • Collaborating with other healthcare executives on the formulation of new policies
  • Boosting profit margins for the organization
  • Managing new patient care programs 

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