A healthcare administration Chief Nursing Officer oversees nursing activities in a group of departments or entire service line. The Chief Nursing Officer is the top-ranking nursing management professional in any healthcare organization. It typically takes seven to 10 years of experience to get to this executive level.

While the proper experience is required to obtain a leadership position, post-graduate education is also usually necessary. The Chief Nursing Officer performs executive duties similar to the Vice President of the department. Both of these roles require at least a master's degree, but in many cases a doctorate of nursing is preferred.

How to Prepare Yourself for an Executive Nursing Position

To pave the way to a job as a healthcare administration Chief Nursing Officer, you should complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, according to the Student National Student Nursing Association. This certification will allow you to begin a Master's program while working as a Registered Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse in a hospital or clinic.

Before you can become a Chief Nursing Officer, you must work your way up from Registered Nurse to supervisor or Assistant Nurse Manager. As a supervisor, you must complete three to five years in a clinical setting to qualify for a mid-level management position. A Nurse Manager usually has a Master of Science in Nursing as well as a certificate in nursing management. At the minimum, a Bachelor of Science is required.

Salary of a Healthcare Administration Chief Nursing Officer

With all of the investment in education and years required to become a senior-level administrator, a Chief Nursing Officer is compensated with a high salary. The Chief Nursing Offier of a medium-sized hospital typically makes around $150,000 per year, while a larger hospital can pay over $200,000 per year. Some of the most sought-after administrative positions can earn upwards of $300,000 per year.

As a Chief Nursing Officer, you will have to coordinate a hospital's financial concerns with the needs of patients and staff. Since you will oversee all of your subordinate mid- and upper-level directors, managers and assistant managers, the job can be quite stressful. You will have the final say in your hospital's executive decision-making regarding the nursing department.

Related Resource: Healthcare Administrator Leadership Skills

The Difference Between Nursing and Executive Administration

You most likely decided on a career in nursing because you feel a calling to help people in need. Your duties change somewhat when you receive your national certificate in nursing management and enter hospital administration. According to Emerging RN Leader website, Nursing professor Dr. Rose O'Sherman explains that college-level business courses help prepare you for the business side of nursing administration. Her advice on becoming a nursing management executive is to spend several years developing business, communication and conflict-resolution skills.

As the face of your hospital's nursing staff, you will have to deal with the public as well as behind-the-scenes politics. Dr. O'Sherman lists political sensitivity as a key trait in an effective Chief Nursing Officer. Obtaining a position as a Chief Nursing Officer is the first step, but navigating the departmental landscape is necessary for becoming successful and inspiring loyalty in your staff. You will frequently have to deal with problems, so develop observational skills and think before reacting.

As a nursing management professional, you will work hard and be well compensated. The status you attain by becoming a healthcare administration Chief Nursing Officer is accompanied by a high level of stress and responsibility.