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What Do Nurse Administrators Do?

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While busy taking care of patients in a hospital, clinic or ambulatory setting, direct patient care nurses may find it difficult to imagine what goes on behind the scenes. Direct patient care requires a lot of planning and resources. A nurse administrator orchestrates all the logistics necessary to keep a busy healthcare setting running smoothly and efficiently while dealing with multiple facets within the organization.

Nursing administration is a role that is unfamiliar to many nurses. The business side of healthcare seems far removed from direct patient care. However, finding solutions to the current challenges facing healthcare relies on tomorrow’s nurse leaders. “Ongoing challenges with operational tasks and processes continue to hamper progress in administrative nursing practice. There is an imperative to find creative, innovative methods that address these challenges with ‘new eyes'” (Joseph & Fowler, 2016).

What Is the Role of Nurses in Administration?

Ensuring adequate staffing, managing finances, leading quality improvement initiatives, addressing patient satisfaction scores, monitoring compliance with regulatory requirements, and strategic planning are just a few of the tasks of nursing administrators. While many direct patient care nurses are familiar with terms like “staffing” and “patient satisfaction,” the day-to-day management of the elements that make up these tasks is foreign. Pursuing an MSN in nursing administration can help prepare a seasoned nurse or an early careerist to tackle the challenges of nurse leadership.

How Can Nurse Administrators Help Nurses on the Floor?

Ideally, a nurse entering an administrative role will have experience in direct patient care, which means he or she has a solid understanding of the demands of a busy healthcare setting and can identify with the needs of nurses in direct patient care roles. Nurse administrators can serve as a conduit between frontline nurses and healthcare administrators because they understand both roles. They can provide rationale regarding the demands of frontline staff to administration and explain the expectations of executive leadership to direct patient care staff.

Recent literature points to the importance of partnership between healthcare leaders and direct care staff. “Organizations based on partnership value and respect the unique knowledge and skills of every member of the organization. Communication is encouraged and flows both ways” (Potter, 2018). Future nursing administrators can influence the adoption of partnership within the healthcare organizations they serve. According to Potter, “nursing administrators in partnership-based healthcare use ‘power with’ instead of ‘power over,’ which promotes confidence and fosters innovation” (2018).

What Impact Can Nurse Administrators Have on the Day-to-Day Routine of Nursing Staff?

Many direct care providers feel their voices are not heard by healthcare administration. Nursing leaders can change this perception by recognizing the initiative and ideas of leaders within clinical areas.

“Regardless of tenure in a position, embracing the new ideas and contributions that a novice leader has to offer is a vital component to his/her retention” (Martin & Warshawsky, 2017). Retaining staff who demonstrate strong leadership skills, initiative and creativity is a major way that nursing administrators can impact the day-to-day routine of nursing staff. Those who are engaged in the future of a healthcare organization and feel valued will take better care of the patients, are more likely to remain with the organization, and will help promote the organization as a desirable place to work.

Nursing administration is a challenging role that requires creativity, dedication and flexibility. Developing partnerships with both direct care staff and organizational leadership is essential to successful navigation of today’s healthcare business environment. If you are a leader in your clinical area and have the desire to ensure a strong future for healthcare, pursuing an MSN in nursing administration may be the right career path for you.

Learn more about the UAH Master of Science in Nursing — Nursing Administration Online.


Joseph, M.L., & Fowler, D. (2016). Innovating Traditional Nursing Administration Challenges. Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(3): 120-121. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000309.

Martin, E., & Warshawsky, N. (2017). Guiding Principles for Creating Value and Meaning for the Next Generation of Nurse Leaders. Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(9): 418-420. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000507.

Potter, T. (2018). Shifting the Paradigm: Educating Nurse Administrators to Be Full Partners. Journal of Nursing Administration, 48(1): 1-2. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000561.


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