Want to Be a Nurse Manager? How to Pick The Right Program

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Nurses are the most important professionals in the health care industry. While they can work unsupervised, they need a nurse manager to keep them up to date with policy changes and any other issue affecting their professional life. A nurse manager is a registered nurse with various experiences in the field and a higher educational qualification, usually a master’s degree commonly referred to as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The journey to becoming a nurse manager starts with choosing the right master’s program. You already must have attained your bachelor’s as well as your state registered nursing (RN) license. To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Bradley University’s Online MSN-FNP program.

Want to be a nurse manager? How to pick the right program.

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Nurse Manager Overview

In the year 2014, there were 333,000 medical and health services managers employed in the country. Forty-two percent of those managers were employed by hospitals offering acute care while 34 percent were at academic institutions. A whopping 70 percent of the managers were reported to be satisfied with their jobs. The median salary for nurse managers was $81,000 per year; however, salaries differ from one medical institution to another. For instance, nurse managers working in specialty areas can earn above median salary, as shown by the following:

  • Critical care – 7 percent
  • Oncology – 5 percent
  • ICU – 3 percent
  • Telemetry – 3 percent

Experience also may affect salaries.

Typical Duties of a Nurse Manager

Nurse mangers are required to stay current with new laws and regulations related to the health care industry. It is their duty to maintain and improve quality of health care services at their facility. They also are tasked with managing budgets and resources, as well as managing and supervising nurses. Additionally, it is their job to maintain service levels and adjust resources accordingly. As mentioned earlier, nurse managers usually have a lot of industry experience. For instance, 28 percent of nurse managers have over 20 years’ experience working in health care. Thirty-one percent of nurse managers have 10–19 years’ experience while 22 percent and 18 percent have 5–9 years’ and 1–4 years’ experience, respectively. Amazingly, less than one percent have less than one year experience.

Nursing Management Programs in the U.S.

The standard educational requirement in the United States for nurse managers is an MSN. There are 519 graduate nursing programs in the country; however, there are 330 accredited nursing master’s degree programs. In 2015, 119,205 students enrolled in these graduate-level programs. In the same year, 41,391 students graduated from the MSN programs.

Admission Requirements

While admission requirements may vary from one graduate school to the next, they generally include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a school accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*), the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • A state RN license
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and college transcripts

Other requirements may include letters of reference and essays.

Tips for Choosing a High-Quality Nursing Program

Location is the most important factor to consider when choosing a nursing program. Ideally, you should give preference to a program offered nearby to save time and commuting costs. Alternatively, you can choose an online MSN program. Online programs are best suited for individuals who cannot relocate, as well as those who need a great deal of flexibility in their studies. Online programs allow you to study at a time that’s convenient for you and to work while you earn your degree. If you have to relocate, find out if there are cost of living increases or decreases, which also may impact your decision.

Since MSN programs can be costly, you should compare the tuition and fees charged by the schools you’re considering. The average out-of-state tuition for the U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 5 ranked master’s in nursing schools is $36,298. Another important financial factor to explore is availability of financial aid and scholarships. Find out what each school’s average or expected financial aid package is, and be sure to ask about the availability of scholarships.

Remember to consider the class size; the smaller the better. Small class sizes mean that you will get personalized attention from faculty and program staff. If possible, you should opt for schools with accelerated programs as well as evening and part-time classes.

Ideally, you should choose a school offering programs specifically designed for nursing managers. These programs can go a long way in preparing new nurse leaders for the workforce.

GRE and admission tests are basic requirements in most programs. Therefore, you should check your test scores before applying to any nursing school to ensure you meet the minimum acceptable score. It is important to note that test score requirements differ from one school to another.

Before committing yourself to a particular program, be sure to check if it is accredited by CCNE*, NLN CNEA or ACEN.

The ideal program should offer much more than just coursework and lectures. You should have access to a wide range of student services, such as mentorship programs and job placements among other types of career services.

Lastly, it is important that you learn about the reputation of an MSN program. For instance, you should find out if the faculty is easily accessible and available to discuss issues with students.

National Certification for Nurse Managers

Through credentialing, nurse managers have the ability to further their education while validating their expertise among colleagues and in preparation for future leadership roles. Certification opportunities include:

  • Certified Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) – offered by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) — geared toward nurse leaders who are engaged in executive nursing practice.
  • Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) – offered in partnership between the AONE and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) — designed exclusively for nurse leaders in the nurse manager role.
  • Nurse Executive (NE-BC) and Nurse Executive – Advanced (NEA-BC) Board Certification – offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The NE-BC recognizes the expertise of nurses who have held a mid-level administrative or higher position. The NEA-BC recognizes the expertise of nurses who have held an administrative position at the nurse executive level.

*The master’s degree program in Nursing, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate program, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Bradley University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).

Recommended Readings

Top Skills Needed for Effective Nurse Managers

Mediating Staff Conflict: Tips for Nurse Managers

Bradley University Online MSN-FNP Program