Overview of Online Nursing Leadership Certificate Programs
Nurses interested in advancing their career and taking on leadership positions in the field may decide to enroll in an online certificate program in nursing leadership. Typically, these certificate programs are available at the graduate level as post-baccalaureate or post-master's certificates. These programs usually cover the broad subject of nursing leadership, but some may focus in a particular area, such as nursing leadership in health systems management. There are also some online executive postgraduate certificate programs in nursing available for students pursuing managerial or administrative positions in healthcare.
Here we will focus on the general online certificates in nursing leadership, which can usually be completed fully online. They can typically be completed in 2 to 3 semesters, or about 1 to 1.5 years. Applicants to these programs are usually required to hold a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing, depending on the program. Students also often need to have a current registered nurse (RN) license.
Requirements for Online Nursing Leadership Certificates
Online nursing leadership certificate programs provide students with an overview of healthcare management and help students further develop leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving skills in the field. Students can complete all coursework online, but some programs may offer some hands-on learning experiences that must be competed in-person.
Students completing their nursing leadership certificate online typically complete 12 to 18 credits of coursework. The curriculum is usually comprised of 4 to 5 core courses, with some programs allowing students to choose 1 course out of a few options. Depending on the program, students may be able to apply credits from their nursing leadership certificate to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program.
Although it is not required for all certificates, some programs include a practicum experience. Some of these programs may make the practicum experience optional. These practicum experiences are designed to give students hands-on training in advanced practice theory for the field and is typically conducted at the end of the certificate program.
Leadership courses explore the history, theories, and practices in the subject that are specific to the field of healthcare. Students may discuss the role of a nurse leader, how to implement change to meet goals, and/or how different factors, like regulations and ethics, affect decision making.
Students in operations management courses explore the issues and considerations for managing a healthcare organization well in order to provide patients with efficient care and service. These courses may explore care delivery models, ethics, budget management, resource allocation, and more.
While some of these courses may go by other names, such as the business of healthcare, and/or be included in operations management courses, many programs require a course focused specifically on financial management in healthcare. These courses are designed to equip students with the skills necessary to understand accounting and budgeting processes common to the field and manage spending.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Nursing Leadership
Since many online certificate programs in nursing leadership require applicants to be an RN, those who complete the program may continue to work as an RN but take on more advanced or leadership roles. As of 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that RNs had a median salary of $73,300 and a predicted job growth of 12% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is much faster than average.
Students with their certificate in nursing leadership may also pursue careers as medical and health services managers. These positions could include clinical managers in nursing or nursing home administrators. Typically, medical and health services managers need at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience, although a specialized certificate past the bachelor's level could increase employability. The BLS reported that as of 2019, these managers had a median salary of $100,980 and the field is expected to see an 18% in jobs from 2018 to 2028.
Nursing leadership certificate programs are available fully online and can be completed in about one year. Students in these programs further develop leadership skills needed to advance their nursing career.