Working as a nurse typically puts you on the front lines of patient care. You operate under the policies of your workplace to provide the best care possible with the resources you have available.
Your time in the trenches of patient treatment, working to provide the best care possible under budget and staffing constraints, may inspire you to pursue a leadership position. NKU’s Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Executive Leadership program can prepare you with the necessary skills to pursue a career as a nurse executive.
The Work of a Nurse Executive
Nurse executives have the required licensure and experience of treating patients, plus the business acumen and know-how to help accomplish the goals of their healthcare organization. They have a desire to help people and a drive to shape healthcare from their positions as executives.
RegisteredNursing.org notes that nurse executives often hold the most senior nursing position in their workplace. You can find nurse executives in hospitals, healthcare organizations, nursing homes, home health agencies, consulting firms and nursing schools. They often manage the entire nursing staff at their facility.
The functions of the nurse executive combine leadership with providing excellent patient care. They serve as educators and mentors, leading by example and encouraging the best from their nursing staff. They prompt their nurses to join national nursing organizations and provide continuing education for their team. Their insight as administrators can help nurses seeking to further develop their own careers.
The business side of a nurse executive role goes beyond managing staff. Creating budgets and being accountable for spending within their organization are significant parts of their responsibilities. They have their finger on the pulse of the expense of patient care. They also work with other departments to develop policies and procedures that affect the entire organization.
An important part of being a nurse executive is having a seat at the table, representing the needs of nurses and their patients. This gives them the opportunity to serve as an advocate for other nurses, and it also helps them promote best nursing practices informed by the direct observations of those they manage as well as their own experience treating patients. Johnson & Johnson conveys the importance of the nurse executive role; nurse executives make sure their nursing team has what it needs to give patients the best possible care.
Nurse executives are paid well for their work. PayScale lists the average yearly salary for a board-certified nurse executive as $131,000, as of February 2020. Nurse Directors can earn about $122,000 per year, while Chief Nursing Officers can make $152,000.
Pursuing Your Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Executive Leadership
You can hone your leadership skills and boost your executive knowledge through the Northern Kentucky University Master of Science in Nursing – Nurse Executive Leadership Concentration degree program online.
MSN candidates must have firsthand experience working with patients as a nurse to better understand the functions of those you hope to manage. This degree program requires a valid registered nurse (RN) license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). If you are an RN with a non-BSN bachelor’s degree, you must just complete a pre-determined set of courses prior to admission into the program.
Nurse executives help create and enforce policy for their healthcare organization. Through four core courses in this program, nurses learn how to navigate the creation of policies and the realities of healthcare economics.
Seven concentration courses prepare nurses for the day-to-day operations of the nurse executive position. With staff management playing a large role, understanding human resources, leadership and organizational psychology are very beneficial. Strategic planning, quality control, accounting and finance round out the studies to prepare students for a career as an executive. The capstone project tests the student’s body of knowledge.
Upon completion of the MSN Nurse Executive Leadership program, graduates should seek executive experience to begin applying their hard-earned skills. Serving as a nurse manager, supervisor, director or assistant director is a fantastic stepping-stone to a higher-level position. Graduates can call upon their know-how in resolving lower-level management challenges while building up the confidence and experience to bolster a career as a nurse executive.