Nurse executives have various foci, though common elements within their practice include managing networks of care providers, facilitating collaboration between health care professionals, ensuring collective accountability, handling partnerships with consumers, advocating for patients, and leading cost-effective patient care.
Nurse executives are members of the senior leadership team, which necessitates their participation in collaboration, coaching, mentoring, communications, coordination, and management. Nurse executives facilitate the design of patient care delivery, build relationships between staff and colleagues, and work to advance nursing as a discipline. They must demonstrate leadership by serving as role models, encouraging and educating staff, promoting quality improvement, and demonstrating financial accountability. They may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and schools of nursing. Nurse executives must be effective communicators.
A nurse executive’s salary is estimated around $56,000 per year. This can vary depending on your certification, experience and education.
Curriculum and Core Classes
Nurse executives typically earn a Master’s of Nursing Administration degree or a doctorate degree. In order to enroll in a master’s of nursing program, candidates will most likely be required to earn a bachelor’s degree, be a certified registered nurse (RN) in good standing, and have a 3.0 GPA on all prior course work. Current curriculum includes courses in diversity, health policy, health services management, health care finance and human resources management.
Graduate-level students should be prepared to complete 36 or more credit hours. Full-time students can expect to carry three classes each semester and part-time students will have to carry the minimum number of hours as determined by the institution. For this program, part-time status is typically two classes per semester. Most colleges and institutions offering the Master of Nursing Administration degree offer classes both online and on-site.
Nurse executives can opt to sit for a credentialing exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to earn the nurse executive-board certified credential (NE-BC). In order to sit for the exam, candidates must hold an active, unrestricted RN license and have a bachelor’s degree or higher. They must also have held a mid-level administrative or higher position, a faculty position teaching nursing administration to graduate students, or an executive consultation position for at least two years in the last five years. Any of these positions must have been full time. Candidates must also have completed 30 hours of continuing education requirements in nursing administration in the three years prior to applying for the exam. This requirement is waived if a candidate holds a master’s degree in nursing administration or higher. The test is offered at testing centers across the nation and consists of 175 questions to be completed in 3.5 hours.
Credentials can be renewed every five years. Those renewing must submit documentation of 1,000 practice hours in the certification area in addition to documentation for continuing education credits in the specialty area.
Full-time students can expect to complete their program in two years at most higher learning institutions. Part-time programs will take longer and the time of study can vary in length depending upon the school. Nurses who wish to obtain a doctorate degree in the field may complete additional course work and clinical requirements for an additional length of time depending upon the specific program requirements.
American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC)
Type of Certification: Nurse Executive — Board Certified (NE-BC)
Eligibility Requirements: Candidates must have a current active registered nurse license and a Bachelor’s in Nursing or higher, and complete 30 hours of continuing education in nursing administration in the past three years (waived if he or she possesses a Master’s in Nursing Administration). In addition, candidates must have held one of the following positions for at least the full-time equivalent of 24 months for the last five years:
- a mid-level or higher administrator
- a faculty member teaching graduate-level nursing administration
- a nursing manager or executive consultant
Certification Process: Apply either online or via mail by printing out and sending in a paper application. Within six weeks of submitting an application, candidates will receive either an Eligibility notice or a letter requesting additional information. An Eligibility Notice will give the candidate 90 days during which to schedule and take your exam.
Fees: $395 for non-members of American Nurses Association (ANA)
Renewal Process: NE-BC certifications are valid for five years. Renewal applications are due at least eight weeks before expiration, and can be submitted online or by mail with the paper application. Renewal costs $350 for non-ANA members.
Learn about other advanced practice nursing specialties.
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