Good nurses are an important part of the healthcare system, and that importance extends to the role of a nurse administrator. While nurses carry many responsibilities for patient care, a nurse administrator is responsible for managing or supervising other nurses. An administrator's range and area of responsibilities can be quite large.

A Nurse Administrator is an Executive

Nurse Administrators generally work at the executive level. They have charge of nursing departments or may oversee all the departments for a hospital or even for a network of hospitals. Sometimes the role is referred to as Nurse Executive or Director of Nurses, and the administrator generally reports to a CEO or someone just below the CEO, according to the Houston Chronicle. In this way, an administrator's role differs in scope from that of a nurse manager, who may do similar things but usually in a slightly more narrow capacity. For instance, a nurse manager may have charge of a unit and answer to the nurse administrator. The roles require similar skill sets, however, including supervisory and management skills, budgeting and financial planning and other strategic visioning.

What a Nurse Administrator Does

A nurse administrator supervises other nurses to ensure that patients are receiving excellent care. In general, the administrator is responsible for recruiting, hiring and training new nurses, scheduling their shifts, evaluating their performance and making sure that they are receiving proper continuing education so they can keep their credentials current. The administrator may also act as a liaison between the nursing staff and other areas of the hospital or healthcare facility. The administrator is responsible for budgeting for the department, hospital or network which they oversee, and also helps set policies and procedures. He or she makes decisions regarding how departments are run in terms of services offered and equipment purchased. Good communication skills are essential, not only because an administrator must manage people skillfully but because the job can also involve writing and reviewing reports.

Training to Be a Nurse Administrator

Before pursuing work as a nurse administrator, you need to first be an RN and hold a BSN degree so that you can move on to an advanced degree. Generally a nurse administrator has at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) which may be a specific masters degree in nursing administration. The potential administrator will take classes to learn needed skills in healthcare administration. Financial management and human resources will be some of the important topics covered in the degree. Nurse administrators can also receive certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center after taking an exam.

Related Resource: Become a Healthcare Lobbyist

Because the tasks of an administrator are so varied, and much depends on the specific scope of an administrator's responsibilities, it's hard to describe a typical day on the job. You can rest assured that being a nurse administrator is a challenging and demanding job. It requires to ability to multi-task and to make decisions about both people and policies. It also provides someone with leadership skills the opportunity to be a role model and mentor for other nurses. If that possibility excites you, then it might be a good idea to look into the training you'll need to become a nurse administrator.