October 20, 2019
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What Careers Exist in Nursing Administration?

Among fulfilling jobs in the medical profession, careers in nursing administration rank high. Through such leadership positions, RNs are spurring vital changes in healthcare delivery. Armed with expert clinical and managerial skills, nurses are launching improvements in patient care, legislation, and medical technologies. Here are jobs where angels of mercy rule.

Related resource: Top 20 Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing Administration and Leadership

1. Charge Nurse (CN)

A Charge Nurse is the shift manager for a nursing unit, employed by outpatient clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. While supervising nursing staff, the CN pilots all the hands-on aspects of patient care.

This responsibility includes delegating patient assignments for nurses and aides, preparing work schedules, handling admissions, transfers, and discharges, monitoring medications, and ordering supplies. Staff nurses look to their CN for direction in providing care. In turn, the charge nurse gives mentoring guidance and evaluates nurse performance.

The CN ensures that the nursing staff is compliant with medical procedures, policies, and regulations. As a diplomatic point of contact, they’re a liaison among doctors, patients, families, and administrative staff.

Clinical tasks include conducting patient assessments, formulating care plans, monitoring vital signs, dressing wounds, giving treatments, dispensing medications, writing reports, charting, and maintaining files.

While the minimal degree requirement is a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), employers favor RNs with a master of science in nursing (MSN). Also mandated are several years of clinical experience.

2. Director of Nursing (DON)

The overall role of this professional is ensuring that nurses excel in the performance of their duties. To this end, Directors of Nursing hire RNs and LPNs, make sure all shifts are properly covered, and provide nurses with continuing education.

Working in hospitals and residential care facilities, DONs develop programs and procedures to improve nursing care and keep patients safe. They also review the records of patients being considered for admission. By managing the department budget, they monitor expenses. When facilities are due for accreditation visits, DONs spearhead the preparations and any mandated deficiency corrections.

Administrators rely on DONs to maintain nursing compliance with policies on medication control, safety, infection control, and patient restraint. Other managerial tasks are setting departmental goals, investigating incidents, and conveying patient needs to physicians.

For this nursing administration job, the minimal degree requirement is a BSN. Preferable is a master’s degree in nursing or public health administration. You also need several years of supervisory nursing experience and skills in budgeting and fiscal reporting.

From the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services, here’s an insightful article on how to succeed as a nursing director.

3. Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)

This job entails overseeing a specific medical department and patient population, with a keen eye for preventing medical errors and reducing healthcare risks. Clinical nurse leaders work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and private clinics.

A primary duty is coordinating care among facility professionals, such as doctors, nutritionists, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, and discharge planners. The CNL keeps everyone apprised of medical assessments, ensuring that crucial details aren’t missed. By evaluating care plans and outcomes, the CNL looks for ways to improve patient safety and avoid medical liability. This task includes promoting the use of the latest medical practices and technologies.

As mentors to fellow nurses, CNLs provide counsel and direction on complex patient cases. At the hands-on level, they assist staff nurses with direct care, such as conducting patient assessments, dispensing medication, and performing bedside duties.

As patient advocates, CNLs ensure that families and patients are well-informed on care plans, treatment goals, and available community resources. Through the troubleshooting efforts of CNLs, medical facilities acquire new policies and procedures that improve patient care.

This career path involves obtaining an MSN and CNL certification.

4. Patient Care Director (PCD)

This frontline nurse implements patient care programs aimed at providing the highest quality healthcare. Patient Care Directors work closely with patients and their families, overseeing admissions, fielding questions and complaints, and ensuring proper assistance and support. This entails hiring and training new staff in care delivery protocols that adhere to government regulations. PCDs also ensure adequate budgeting for patient services.

PCDs work at hospitals, home care agencies, outpatient clinics, and residential care facilities. To streamline operations, they interface with all departments, assessing their effectiveness, mentoring department heads, and recommending service improvements when indicated. By monitoring patient scheduling, PCDs coordinate diagnostic procedures, nursing aide care, meal delivery, and treatments.

Employers seek candidates with a BSN or MSN and specialty certification. Preference is given to those with at least five years of related experience.

5. Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

On the ladder of nursing administration careers, this executive position is an upper rung. Chief Nursing Officers wear many managerial hats at hospitals, rehab facilities, outpatient clinics, and group physician practices. Foremost among CNO duties is overseeing the daily activities of all nursing departments. This involves hiring, training, and managing nursing staffs while ensuring they meet established patient care and accreditation standards.

As liaisons, CNOs foster collaboration and rapport between nurses and physicians. To upgrade operations, they perform extensive research, reporting their findings to senior management.

With financial expertise, CNOs monitor nursing budgets and develop compensation and benefits packages for new hires. They also establish nursing procedures, policies, and performance improvement programs. At Board of Director meetings, they’re the nursing spokesperson, bringing clinical issues from bedside to boardroom.

To qualify for this nursing administration job, candidates need an MSN and extensive clinical and leadership experience. A passion for research is required to stay current with advanced nursing practices and technology.

Here from NurseGrid are tips on being a stellar nurse administrator, applicable to all the above professions.

Nurse Champions

Nursing administration careers are perfect for RNs who seek to optimize patient care from a managerial advantage. In ascending order by hierarchy, five highly rewarding positions are charge nurse, director of nursing, clinical nurse leader, patient care director, and chief nursing officer.

Each of these jobs requires strong skills in organization, collaboration, communication, diplomacy, critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making. To maintain rapport with both patients and staff, RNs must be empathetic, flexible, and adept at handling conflicts and emergencies.

Hone your talents and skills through advanced education and polished experience. Then, take charge and reach for the stars!