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Leadership Skills All Nurse Administrators Need

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Nurse administrators have education and experience in both patient care and business administration. Rather than working at the bedside with patients, nurse administrators take a managerial role in the healthcare organization. They are the liaison between staff, department managers and healthcare executives. Most nurse administrators have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Nursing Administration degree.

What Is the Role of a Nurse Administrator?

A nurse administrator is a nursing professional who oversees, plans and manages patient care, budgets, and policies. The responsibilities for this role may include:

  • Delegating tasks to nursing staff.
  • Handling work schedules.
  • Ensuring nursing staff is up to date on new procedures and policies.
  • Observing nursing staff to evaluate their performance.
  • Creating and adhering to a budget.
  • Recommending or designing policy and structural changes.

What Type of Leadership Skills Do Nurse Administrators Need?

The American Organization for Nurse Executives (AONE) has been around since 1967 and is a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association. The organization provides leadership, professional development, advocacy and research to support excellence in the nursing practice, uphold the pursuit of quality patient care and shape public policy in healthcare throughout the United States.

The AONE Nurse Executive Competencies document outlines the skills nurse administrators need to effectively carry out their responsibilities. For nursing administrators, the AONE identified the following competency domains:

  • Communication and relationship building
  • Knowledge of the healthcare environment
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism
  • Business skills

Why Must Nurse Administrators Be Good Communicators and Relationship Builders?

Good communication skills are essential because nurse administrators are in contact with nurses, healthcare professionals, clerical workers, executives, and patients and their family members. Thus, a nurse administrator must interact with staff members who have different levels of education, which can range from a high school diploma to graduate degrees.

Nurse administrators also need to foster collaborative relationships among interdepartmental staff. By encouraging cooperation, nurse administrators create an environment where staff and colleagues can achieve their goals and provide optimal care to patients.

What Is the Knowledge Competency?

When the AONE refers to knowledge, it pertains to a nurse administrator’s nursing expertise and awareness of how the healthcare system operates. Competent nurse administrators exhibit clinical practice knowledge and an understanding of the delivery of patient care across all healthcare settings.

Why Do Nurse Administrators Need Leadership Skills?

Nurse administrators must make critical decisions, create a positive work atmosphere, and maintain standards for patient care all while meeting the expectations of the healthcare organization that employs them. Exceptional leaders are:

  • Adaptable
  • Advocative
  • Attentive
  • Empathetic
  • Flexible
  • Motivating

What Is Professionalism?

Nurse administrators exhibit professionalism by knowing how to properly interact with others and behave appropriately. They safeguard the standards of the nursing practice while maintaining ethical principles and advocating for the inclusion of nurses and staff in organizational decisions that involve clinical care.

Nurse administrators who display professionalism may become role models and mentors to help nurses move forward in their careers. They do this by participating in lifelong learning and promoting professional certifications for their nursing staff.

Why Do Nurse Administrators Need Business Skills?

Nurse administrators manage information, technology, marketing, finances and employees. They oversee budgets, staffing and strategic planning to fix problems and ensure that the objectives, mission and vision of their healthcare organization are met.

How Do Nurses Gain Leadership Skills in an MSN in Nursing Administration Program?

In The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) online MSN in Nursing Administration program, nurses gain indispensable leadership skills. The coursework prepares nurses for an administrative position by teaching them how healthcare organizations function so they can be proficient in their job duties.

Nurse administrators must remain committed to overcoming challenges and uniting the healthcare workforce. As a nurse administrator, you have the ability to inspire your staff, use your knowledge, reduce costs and change policy to improve patient care. With preparation in an MSN in Nursing Administration program like the one offered by UAH, nurses can leave the bedside and start working as nurse administrators.

Learn more about The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s online MSN – Nursing Administration program.


American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE): About AONE

AONE: Nurse Executive Competencies

Chron: The Qualities of a Nurse Manager

Advance Healthcare Network: Effective Nursing Leadership Nurse Administrator (Leader)

Healthcare Administration Degree Programs: What Type of Leadership Skills Should a Healthcare Administrator Have?

American Hospital Association: Advancing Health in America

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