Nurse Executive

What Is a Nurse Executive?

A nurse executive is an administrative professional within the nursing field who plays a central role in shaping the policies of a healthcare organization. They ensure that the team of nurses in the organization have everything that they need to provide the most effective and efficient care. Often, nurse executives will hold the senior-most nursing position at their employing organization and are considered the most valuable members in the healthcare management staff. They often will hold the ‘Director of Nursing' title. Nurse executives are instrumental in helping healthcare organizations to follow their missions by making sure that all employees, teams, and facilities are operating smoothly.

What Are Some Nurse Executive Duties?

Common tasks carried out by nurse executives include:

  • Drafting a healthcare organization's budgets and managing finances of the organization
  • Hiring and training nursing staff
  • Developing policies and procedures to ensure their organization runs as effectively and efficiently as possible
  • Understanding needs of staff to help them flourish and provide top quality care
  • Effectively communicate and advocate for the diverse needs of the various professionals within the organization
  • Developing wellness and quality care networks
  • Collaborating with healthcare professionals from a wide variety of disciplines
  • Planning and managing patient care
  • Overseeing the development, planning, and implementation of organizational policies and protocol

Where Do Nurse Executives Work?

Nurse executives typically hold high-level positions within healthcare systems. Common employers include:

  • Hospitals
  • Home health agencies
  • Private healthcare clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Community health clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing schools
  • Consulting firms

How to Become a Nurse Executive

Each healthcare organization has a mission, whether it's a for-profit outpatient clinic or a state-funded hospital. Nurse executives should possess the necessary leadership qualities to help the organization carry out their stated mission efficiently and effectively. Nurse executives should be comfortable working in fast-paced environments and in managerial roles. If you think these are qualities that you possess, you'll need to achieve the proper combination of advanced nursing education, clinical experience, and leadership skills.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

The road to become a nurse executive is a long and arduous one, so be prepared. The initial step you will need to take towards certification is to obtain a BSN degree. While you pursue your BSN, it's also recommended that you also take some business management classes at the very least, or double major in business if possible. Upon graduating with your degree(s) you will then need to pass the NCLEX-RN to gain licensure, and then acquire some clinical experience working as a traditional RN. After that you should enroll in a Master of Science Nursing (MSN), a Master's in Healthcare, or Master's in Business Administration (MHA/MBA) program. These programs typically take around two years of full-time study to complete. When you have finished your master's degree, you should then acquire experience working in executive role in the healthcare industry before you seek the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential.

Do Nurse Executives Need an RN Degree?

Nurse executives are high-level, advanced nurses. Because of this, they will need to hold active and unencumbered RN licenses and will need to have additional educational and experiential qualifications to become Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP). Nurse executives are typically MSN-educated or DNP-educated RNs.

Step 2: Required Nurse Executive Certifications/Credentials

Certification for nurse executives is offered through the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). To be eligible to obtain the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) credential you must have the following:

  • A current and unrestricted RN license
  • A BSN degree plus four years of experience in an executive nursing role
  • An MSN, MHA, or MBA graduate degree and two years of experience in an executive nursing role

Nurse Executive Jobs, Salary & Employment

The most effective executives of any kind are strong leaders who are excellent decision-makers, and who have exquisite communication skills. Having the ability to problem-solve is also important. This particular set of skills can be rare, and healthcare organizations are always in need of competent management, so good nursing executives are often sought after.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - The American Organization of Nurse Executives lists five essential skills that nurse executives need: knowledge of the healthcare system, business skills, communication and relationship-building, leadership, and professionalism. Other major skills are administrative skills, managing others, the ability to make decisions quickly in stressful situations, and the ability to take on many tasks at once.
  • Job Outlook - The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment rates for RNs to increase by 16% between the years 2014 and 2024. In the case that more RNs are hired, more nursing executives will always be needed to manage them. It's for this reason that the employment rates for nursing executives is likely to grow directly alongside and in accordance with that of traditional RNs.

What Is the Average Salary of a Nurse Executive?

According to PayScale, certified nurse executives make an average yearly salary of around $130,000. Annual salaries and hourly payrates will depend on factors like years of executive/managerial experience in the healthcare field, city and state of employment, education levels, certifications, and employer. These same factors will also influence the kinds of benefit packages that nurse executives receive. Most, however, will receive medical, vision, dental, and prescription insurance coverage. Some employers will also provide nurse executives life insurance plans as well. Nurse executives can expect some paid time off each year.

How Much Do Nurse Executives Make per Year?

  • $100,000 – $174,000 annually

How Much Do Nurse Executives Make per Hour?

  • $52.95 average hourly wage

Nurse Executive Resources