Is a Nursing Leadership Role Right for Me?
Nursing is a calling. And perhaps you’re called to become a nurse executive. If you are considering a nurse manager position, learn more about what a nursing executive role is like and how to determine if it’s right for you.
What is a nurse executive?
Nurse executives are leaders. They hold senior administrative or managerial roles in healthcare organizations. Job titles for nurse executives include director of nursing, clinical nurse manager, chief nurse executive (CNE), and chief nursing officer (CNO).
What do nurse executives do?
Nurse executives perform the same duties that executives in other industries perform, such as managing staff, developing strategic plans, budgeting, mentoring, and creating organizational policies. Typically in this role, you’ll work to support your healthcare organization’s goals while leading the nursing team and managing patient care. As a nurse executive, you have the opportunity to make a difference in your healthcare organization and to improve healthcare delivery.
What is it like to be a nurse executive?
A nurse executive’s day is fast-paced. If you like variety, this could be the job for you, because you’ll address different situations and perform a variety of tasks every day. You’ll guide and support your nursing team to provide the best possible care for their patients while working to ensure your team has what they need to fulfill that goal. You’ll advocate for nurses and patients, draft budgets, and create policies and procedures to help your organization operate efficiently and effectively. You might work for a hospital, a healthcare organization, a consulting firm, a nursing home, or a home health agency.
What skills do I need to possess to become a nurse executive?
The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) established criteria for nurse executives. They define the key nurse leadership skills as:1
- Communication and relationship-building. Nurse executives need to be able to communicate effectively, work with a diverse array of people, and develop and maintain good relationships with their nursing team, peers, and the entire executive team.
- Knowledge of the healthcare environment. Not only do nurse executives need to understand the standards of clinical practice, they also need to have knowledge of patient care models, healthcare policies and economics, patient safety, risk management, quality improvement, and outcome measurements.
- Leadership. As a nurse leader, you’ll need to demonstrate visionary thinking combined with critical-thinking skills. You’ll want to embrace systems thinking, which considers how problems apply not just to a single process or department but how they impact the overall organization. Nurse executives also need to be skilled in change management and succession planning.
- Professionalism. Personal and professional accountability, high ethical standards, career-planning capabilities, advocacy, participation in professional organizations, and a commitment to evidence-based clinical and management practice are additional qualities and actions that are necessary for nurse leaders.
- Business skills. As an executive, you’ll need to have an understanding of finances, human resources, information technology, and marketing.
That may seem like an overwhelming list, but keep in mind that these skills can be learned! A Master of Science in Nursing degree program with a Nurse Executive specialization can help prepare you for a role as a nurse leader.
Is a nurse executive role right for me?
Ask yourself these three key questions to determine if a nurse leader job is right for you:
- Do you want to develop additional skills? As you can see, nurse executives are masters of a variety of skills. If the idea of learning and building new skills is appealing, becoming a nurse leader might be right for you.
- Do you want to help others grow? When you’re a nurse executive, you can help nurses take on new tasks and responsibilities. You can be a nurse mentor and empower nurses to flourish in their careers.
- Do you want to make a broader impact on healthcare? Nurses have an incredible, powerful impact on their patients’ health and lives. But if you want to make an impact on your healthcare organization and in the healthcare field, you’ll need to step up to a leadership position.
Yes, I want to become a nurse executive! Now what?
To prepare to become a nurse executive, consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a Nurse Executive specialization. A master’s degree in nursing can help you develop managerial skills as you learn about systems leadership, strategic planning in healthcare organizations, finance, human resources, and more. A capstone project, which is a requirement for graduation in most master’s programs, can provide real-world experience that you can put to work right away in your nursing job.
If you’re ready for a leadership role in nursing, Walden University can prepare you with the skills you need to help change healthcare for the better. Walden offers an MS in Nursing degree program with a Nurse Executive specialization that is aligned with the Nurse Executive Competencies established by the Association of Nurse Leaders.
Walden’s MSN degree program is online, which allows you to complete coursework from anywhere you have internet access whenever it works best for your schedule, so you can continue to work as a nurse while you go to school. Walden also offers an RN to MSN path for nurses who have not earned a BSN or who hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing. And Walden is No. 1 in Master of Science in Nursing graduates in the U.S.2
Additionally, Walden’s MSN program has earned Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation. Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency, contributing to the improvement of the public’s health. CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing.
If you’re ready to gain leadership skills, empower nurses, and make a positive impact in the healthcare field, Walden is ready to provide the education you need for a career as a nurse executive.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a CCNE-accredited MS in Nursing with a Nurse Executive specialization degree program online. Expand your nursing career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
2Based on 2021 IPEDS data
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Fill out the form and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.
Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.