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The Role of Human Resources for Nurse Administrators

Amidst the chaos of various healthcare settings, nurse administrators ensure their institutions have the right people in the correct positions to succeed. In addition to the practical experience of a nursing background, they must also act as managers who can inspire the best from their colleagues in order to achieve the best outcomes for their patients.

Ultimately, nurse administrators must develop a robust knowledge of human resources (HR). To gain these skills and other relevant managerial strategies, nurses typically pursue graduate-level coursework via a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in Nursing Administration.

What HR Trends Will Nurse Administrators Encounter?

Today’s nurse administrators may encounter some specific HR trends and potential challenges, including the following:

Nursing shortages. Approximately 500K RNs will retire by 2022 — many of them Baby Boomers — resulting in up to 1.1 million new RNs needed to replace exiting workers and accommodate expansion of healthcare services, says the American Nurses Association (ANA). Nursing shortages vary based on several factors, such as population density and local nursing program capacities. Geographic location is a crucial difference, too, says the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which predicts the worst RN shortages will occur in states in the southern and western parts of the U.S.  

Burnout and pandemic fatigue. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, projections likely do not account for those who have exited the workforce early. Rates of burnout among nurses often stem from frequent understaffing, workplace violence and the burden of administrative tasks like charting and documentation. As reported by Forbes, more than 15% of nurses feel burned out, and 41% feel “unengaged” — the latter affecting morale and nurses’ ability to humanize patients and provide top-level care. Nurse administrators must find ways to reconnect with their employees, especially the unengaged.

Building diverse teams. Maintaining a diverse healthcare staff, essentially one that reflects the growing diversity of the population, is essential to improving patient outcomes and addressing social determinants of health. Nurse administrators must attract applicants from diverse backgrounds and create an environment that fosters inclusivity and teamwork. According to Minority Nurse, “And when the importance of diversity is emphasized at the managerial level,” as nurse administrators have the opportunity to do, “everyone benefits, from patients to providers and educators.”

High turnover. The mounting pressures on nurses can lead to high turnover. According to Forbes, one in five nurses leaves their job within the first year, which puts further pressure on remaining staff. In addition to dealing with nursing shortages, nurse administrators must develop strategies to lessen the demands placed on workers and improve employee retention. The Society for Human Resource Management notes that upskilling can alleviate some of this strain by maximizing employees’ use of technology.

How Can Nurse Administrators Prepare for Complex Staffing Challenges?  

Healthcare staffing has become increasingly complex. Many nursing supply issues are fluid and heavily dependent on factors outside of a facility’s direct control. It will require nurse administrators to be forward-thinking problem-solvers who can adapt easily. They must be collaborative with strong analytical and interpersonal communication skills.

The online MSN in Nursing Administration program at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) prepares nurse leaders to navigate healthcare’s unique staffing difficulties. It helps nurses balance their clinical expertise with the operational and leadership strategies necessary to maintain their teams’ motivation through the most challenging shifts. MSN coursework covers the latest healthcare management theories, staffing trends and ethical and legal concerns — all while keeping patient care at the forefront.

Overall, nurse administrators take on a range of responsibilities. However, one should not underestimate their impact on human resources since their policies can substantially affect the organization, employees and patients.

Learn more about The University of Texas at Arlington’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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