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Nurse administrators manages the nursing staff and performs leadership functions within any healthcare facility that employs nurses. They direct policy, and manage staffing and budgeting issues. Depending on the facility, there is typically a hierarchy of administrative positions from the nurse managers up through the director of nursing.
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The Nurse Manager manages all of the administrative duties on a nursing unit, directs staffing, budgeting and other daily tasks for the unit as well as oversees the nurses working on the unit. Nurse Managers may be asked to provide clinical guidance or information about hospital policies when questions arise. In larger hospitals, the Nurse Manager reports to the service director. The service director oversees an entire clinical department, such as the surgical service or cardiac service. The most senior nurse in a hospital is usually the Director of Nursing (DON). He or she typically holds an executive title and directs hospital policy for the entire nursing staff.
Most nursing administration positions require an advanced degree. Many schools offer advanced degrees with a specialization in Nursing Administration. Another possible route is to earn a joint nursing and business degree, usually a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing degree and a Master in Business Administration.
It is certainly possible, though not common, to move straight into an administrative position out of nursing school, but having a few years of clinical experience is usually recommended. Having an idea of the responsibilities and challenges of bedside nurses will make an administrator more effective and more in touch with the needs of his or her staff.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a certification exam for nurses who hold a management position and who have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Thirty credit hours of continuing education are also required from within the last three years, unless the nurse has a Master of Science in Nursing Administration. The American Organization of Nursing Executives (AONE) also offers a way to earn certification, and is the major professional organization for nursing administrators. In addition, the AONE provides research, advocacy and guidance to active members.