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Registered Nurses Become Leaders With a Master’s in Nursing Administration

Over the past few years, the field of nursing has become increasingly lucrative. In some cases, the nursing shortage and the compounding issue of the COVID-19 pandemic have driven up salary rates. Also, accelerated, affordable online nursing programs have allowed individuals to expedite their earning potential and move into leadership roles.

But, there are other reasons nurses decide to seek managerial positions. Nurses who purse leadership positions can impact patient outcomes, healthcare policy, budgeting and help develop the next generation of nurses, especially given the widespread demand for nursing professionals.

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration degree is the first step towards impacting the future of nursing.

Defining the Role of Nurse Leader

The role of “leader” can be broad, depending on the industry to which you’re referring. But, the American Nurses Association (ANA) Leadership Institute’s definition for nurse leader is clear.

A nurse leader is: “a nurse who is interested in excelling in a career path, a leader within a healthcare organization who represents the interests of the nursing profession, a seasoned nurse or healthcare administrator interested in refining skills to differentiate them from the competition or to advance to the next level of leadership.”

Qualities used to describe a “good” nurse leader are similar to those of an entry-level registered nurse. The difference is that nurse leaders also foster those qualities in the teams they support. Such attributes include:

  • compassion/empathy
  • integrity
  • critical thinking
  • dedication to excellence
  • communication
  • collaboration/team building
  • mentorship
  • delegation
  • open-mindedness
  • forward thinking
  • accessibility

Leadership Opportunities on So Many Levels

The evolution of nursing showcases an incredible progression of responsibilities, opportunities and leadership positions available for registered nurses (RNs). Nursing professionals have been active players in “redesigning healthcare” as they contribute to the evolution of the healthcare industry.

Strong leadership in healthcare organizations can foster these “redesigning” efforts. Research shows a strong correlation between effective leadership and high-quality work environments. In healthcare, that equates to better patient outcomes.

Another critical aspect nurse leaders can impact involves healthcare policy. Those tasked with creating and advocating for policy often lack key insights that only nurse leaders can provide. As a result, there’s a tremendous opportunity for nurses in leadership positions to revolutionize policy at local, state, national and even global stages.

More MSN programs are dedicating coursework to this very discipline. The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) offers a five-week course on Nursing and Healthcare Policy for those particularly interested in pursuing this direction.

As a nurse, you may have been in situations where “budgeting” presented challenges. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon among healthcare organizations. Much like policymakers, CEOs, COOs and CFOs also benefit from the input of nurse leaders who understand the exact needs of their departments. With an MSN in Nursing Administration, you’ll gain the financial planning, budgeting and reimbursement knowledge required to advise the C-suite and advocate for the type of environments that lead to positive patient outcomes.

Nurses are also innovators given that they’re skilled critical thinkers. Whether it’s solving an immediate need, such as the immediate concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, or strategizing to address longer-term problems, nurses with leadership prowess have the potential to help overcome some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges.

This reiterates the ANA’s definition that a nurse leader is a leader within a healthcare organization who represents the interests of the nursing profession. That’s really what all of the above roles serve to do. Nurses in leadership positions are trusted allies, and other leaders lean on them to ensure success within their organizations.

Preserving the Future of Healthcare

Aspiring to higher levels within a nursing career isn’t “all” about the money, but the financial gains from nursing leadership roles is a perk. PayScale reports the median annual salary of a nurse administrator as $88,621 with the potential for as much as $134,000 per year (plus bonuses).

More importantly, by earning an MSN Nursing Administration degree, you’re paving a way for the next generation of nurses. You have the unique opportunity to help change the future of healthcare for the better — and that’s a very special responsibility to bear.

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

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