Steps to Become a Certified Nurse Administrator

Learn how to become a certified nurse administrator. Research the job description, the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a certified nurse administrator. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Nurse Administrator?

Certified nurse administrators are registered nurses (RNs) with supervisory and administrative responsibilities. To achieve this position, they have earned credentials beyond the RN degree. Typically the highest-ranking nurse in a medical facility, the certified nurse administrator can oversee patient care, manage a unit within a health care facility, or manage the entire facility. These managers may need to be available on call for emergencies and might have to work weekends or nights.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree is required, a master's is common.
Degree Field Nursing, nursing administration, healthcare management, and related fields.
Experience 2 years' experience in health care management are required for certification.
Licensure and Certification Both licensure and certification are required.
Key Skills Active listening, speaking, critical thinking, time management, writing, management of personnel, and judgment and decision-making skills; ability to use scientific, database, medical and other software.
Salary $94,500 per year (median salary for health care administrators May 2015).

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online, ***American Nurses Credentialing Center

Let's take a brief look into the steps required to become a nurse administrator.

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Become a Certified Nurse Administrator

Step 1: Earn a Nursing Degree

There are three educational programs one can pursue in order to become a nurse. These include a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, a 2-year associate's degree in nursing or a hospital-administered nursing diploma program. To be eligible for nurse administrator certification, a bachelor's degree is required.

Step 2: Obtain a Registered Nurse License

In order to obtain a registered nursing (RN) license, an individual must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). In order to take the exam, RN candidates must submit an application to the state board of nursing in the state they plan to work. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but all states require nurses to be licensed in order to begin work. Some hospitals require graduates with little or no work experience to start with a residency.

Step 3: Earn a Master's Degree

A master's degree may be necessary to be promoted to a nurse administrator job. A Master of Science in Nursing Administration (MSNA) is designed to prepare students to become nurse administrators. Other options include a graduate degree in health services or a dual MSNA and Master of Business Administration. An advanced degree ensures that nurses understand supervisory nursing principles and practices, which are essential for nurse administrators.

Step 4: Gain Management Experience

To get a job as a nurse administrator, an RN typically needs experience working in management. Management experience can include being a nurse manager, a lead nurse, or an RN supervisor. Internships at healthcare institutions can also help individuals gain management experience.

Step 5: Advance Your Career and Get Nurse Executive Certification

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a Nurse Executive Certification and a Nurse Executive, Advanced certification. The nurse executive certification is available to RNs with two years of nursing management experience and a bachelor's degree. The nurse executive, advanced certification is available to RNs with two years management experience and a master's degree. These credentials single you out as a qualified nurse with management ability.

A certified nurse administrator must earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, be licensed, gain management experience, and can advance one's career with executive certification.

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