Nurse Executive 

A nurse executive is a top administrative position in the nursing field. A nurse executive has to design patient care systems to achieve the best outcome and serve as role models for an organization. 

Each healthcare facility be it a skilled care facility or state-funded hospital has a mission.  It is the job of a nurse executive to carry out the mission by playing a large role in shaping healthcare policy and helping staff in the nursing department to deliver the best standard care possible. 

The actual day to day duties depends on the type of facility and size of the organization. Nurse executives in most settings perform an administrative role. They design patient care plans, coordinate continuing education for nurses, and communicate with various departments.  

It might also be their role to oversee the delivery of patient care, developing new procedures for identifying issues that affect the quality of care that nurses deliver and creating budgets. 

How to become a Nurse Executive 

A nurse executive is a high and crucial position. It requires a high level of nursing knowledge, managerial, and business skills to run the department efficiently. It is a position that requires someone to have a high-level nursing degree an even another one in business together with much nursing experience to fit into this role. Nurses aspiring to become executives should have a passion for leadership, capacity to manage the business side of healthcare, and excellent communication skills to interact with departments or patients. 

Nurse Executive Educational Requirements  

 An advanced degree is necessary for a nurse executive position, but it does not happen at once. You must go through various stages before becoming qualified and certified. 

 1. Earn a bachelor’s degree  

A bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) degree is one of the essential qualifications for an executive position.  You can double major in business or enroll for business classes if you from the beginning aspire to be a nurse executive. They increase suitability for an executive position that is multifaceted. 

Passing a licensure exam after earning a BSN degree is the only way to become a registered nurse and authority to practice. Working for some time as a registered nurse allow gaining of experience that becomes useful in identifying challenges of nursing career and finding solutions. 

 2. Enroll for an advanced degree 

 A minimum of a graduate degree is a requirement to become a nurse executive. You should enroll early for a masters Degree.  Masters of nursing administration, Masters of Science in Nursing or Masters of Business Administration programs mostly accept applications from those who have BSN degree and are RNs with a good standing. They must also have a GPA of 3.0 on prior coursework.  

The modern curriculum includes diverse courses, including health policy, healthcare finance, health services, and human resources management. 

Graduate level students should be ready to complete at least 36 credit hours or more.  Students in full-time programs can take three units’ semesters while part-time students can take two for the minimum hours that their institution plans. Many colleges and universities offer a masters degree in nursing online and on –campus for students to choose the model that suits their schedule.  

A masters degree is enough for application to smaller facilities, but the larger ones prefer a nurse executive with doctorate majoring in nursing administration.   A doctorate program has additional coursework and clinical requirements that are more comprehensive than bachelors and masters level education. 

 3. Get certification and credentials  

A nurse executive should have advanced certification to qualify to oversee nursing staff performance in a healthcare environment. Some degree programs can prepare students simultaneously for certification exams, but it is essential to meet all the accreditation standards because there fee exceptions. For instance, some might require continuing education credits in nursing education. For example, The American Nurses Credential Center offers exams for certification credentials, although candidates with a masters degree in nursing or business get a waiver.  

Nurse Executive Duties and roles  

Nurse executives play an integral role in overseeing the smooth functioning of a healthcare organization because they work together with health professionals from various disciplines. They also develop networks of quality care and wellness. 

It is also the role of nurse executives to identify any bottlenecks on patient care and create new procedures to counter them. All along, they strive to continually improve the health of the patients and communities by upholding professional as well as ethical principles. 

Nurse executives also hold these other roles and duties.  

  • Designing and managing patient care 
  • Effectively communicating diverse needs
  • Shaping health and nursing care policies 
  • Collaborating with interdisciplinary health professionals 
  • Supervise planning, development, and implementation of policies  for healthcare facilities 
  • Developing networks of quality care and wellness 
  • Advocating for patients and staff

Financial accountability also falls under the jurisdiction of nurse executives since oversee the functioning of the nursing department and patient care.  

The role of the nursing executive is essential for all healthcare facilities.  A nurse executive can work in various settings, including: 

  • Hospitals 
  • Nursing schools 
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Nursing homes  
  • Home health agencies 
  • Consulting firms 
  • Rehabilitation centers 

 Some nurse executives work as consultants who offer their services to different health facilities. 

 Nurse Executive Career Outlook  

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and facilities require someone to develop new ways of coping with patient needs. The role of a nurse executive keeps on expanding because of the need to have professionals who can instill changes in a healthcare organization. 

 Nurse executives are managers who specialize in administration. They earn well as compensation for the expanded roles they perform. The salaries might not have a single figure to pinpoint because the pay rate depends on the location, employer, and experience.   Most nurse executives are with a range that earns a median salary of $100,000 annually, but there are those that earn up to $140,000. 

Nurse executives work together with directors of nursing, nurse administrators, or chief nurse executives to improve patient experiences but bear the highest responsibility, but they have the last word in planning care.   It is this high level of responsibility that sets them apart from other nurse leaders. 

The role of a nursing executive is expanding from focusing on nursing services to overall patient care. Many healthcare facilities and nursing schools assign top management roles to nurse executives. Insurance providers and many other industries with affiliation to healthcare have started adding nursing executives to their team. It is a development that is increasing career opportunities for nurse executives.  


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