Within the advanced practice care field of nursing, there are many specialisms. These may range from a pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and many others in this vast field. Nursing is a profession that people who are divorced either return to – or begin as a new career.

 A newer role has emerged in the last few decades, the role of a Nurse Executive. This is a role taken by very highly skilled and very highly educated (usually to doctorate level) nurses who are passionate about the administrative processes within the healthcare field. They are experts in organizational structure and change, always striving to get the most effective outcome for the patient care plans and systems they manage.

The Role and Responsibilities of a Nurse Executive

Nurse Executives are registered nurses who are taking their careers one step further to advanced practice. There are two varieties of Nurse executive, those who are more research focused (who will usually take a Ph.D. qualification) and those who are more focused in patient-facing and education settings, usually nurses who are in this role have taken a DNP Nurse Executive program, these can take between 2-4 years to complete and are on the same level of qualification as a Ph.D.

Healthcare is an ever-changing field. With more discoveries comes more responsibilities to the patents and patients’ families to get the very best healthcare at any given time. This is not a black and white decision-making process either. Whether the hospital or healthcare setting is state-funded or run for profit, they must adhere to strict regulations as well as manage patients’ care and the budgets for that effectively.

Every healthcare setting will have a goal or a mission statement, describing how they will work within the field of medicine to provide the best care for their patients. It’s part of the Nurse Executive’s role to ensure that the policies and the staffing within the nursing department are adhering to the goal and mission statement, as well as working effectively to ensure patients receive the very best care that the healthcare setting can offer.

As far as specific duties for a Nurse Executive are concerned, the primary responsibilities are mainly administrative. This is not to say that patient care is not a factor, or that this role could be carried out by a person without excellent experience in the field of nursing. To be able to deliver the work of a Nurse Executive efficiently, one must have a solid understanding and grounding within the nursing and healthcare fields to really make a difference in the role.

The Nurse Executive can be thought of as the project manager for their setting. They may be responsible for all sorts of important decisions about care, budgets, policy, and staffing. Being able to effectively manage these is a huge task and requires skills in organization, management, and of course, great people leadership.

On any given day, a Nurse Executive’s duties may involve:

  • Communicating with the management team – being a voice for the nursing team.
  • Participating in meetings with Councils and Committees that govern and influence the healthcare setting’s operations.
  • Sitting on or being involved with various boards – such as the Executive Leadership Board, The Executive Committee of the Medical Staff, Care Oversight Committee, Finance Board, and many more depending on the healthcare setting.
  • Taking a leadership role – for the entire nursing team and associated health staff (such as LPNs and NAs, etc.).
  • Organizing and having authority over various aspects of the day to day workings – such as nursing job descriptions, care policies and procedures, standards of patient care when relating to nursing, nursing treatment, and services, the standard of practice for all nursing staff, and other areas.
  • Organizing Nursing staffing – ensuring the right people are in at the right time.
  • Organizing patient care plans – working on the standards to measure, asses, and improve the patient outcome.
  • Be involved in the appointment of new nursing staff – ensuring all staff are adequately certified, licensed, and experienced.
  • Monitoring the licensing and registration details – for current nursing staff, new staff, and contractors.
  • Decision alignment – ensuring that all decisions to do with budgets, customer service, all third-party contractors, and processes align with that healthcare setting’s mission statement or organizational goal.

Career and Salary Expectations for Nurse Executives

Nurse Executives are part of the advanced practice level of care within the healthcare field. They are very well trained, have lots of experience, and they have completed advanced degrees and doctorate qualifications to get to that level.

It is for these reasons that Nurse Executives are very well compensated for the work that they do. Nurse Executives are part of the managerial or leadership team of any healthcare setting. They can usually expect to see a median salary sitting around $119,000 per year, which is a significant increase from a standard Registered Nurse salary, which sits at roughly $69,000 per year.

Depending on the healthcare setting, the location, and the responsibilities of the role, it is not uncommon to see this figure rise as far as $140,000 and even higher.

Of course, the salary is only part of the story, the career prospects of a Nurse Executive are set to grow too. The field of nursing has seen a steady increase in recognition over the last few decades, and nurses are choosing more and more to specialize in a field.

This excellent news for both patients and healthcare settings alike. Patients are being treated by nurses and professionals who are experts in their fields and who know what decisions need to be made at what time. Healthcare settings are gaining valuable insights on how to better manage patient care to ensure that the most appropriate decisions are being made every time, on time, and within the set budgets.

Nurse executives will need to be flexible and innovative to really thrive in their roles. There is a chronic shortage of well-qualified nursing professionals in both the USA and across the world, this means that advanced care practitioners like Nurse Executives are ever more sought after by healthcare settings who wish to offer excellent service to patients and patients families. Administrative roles like Nurse Executive are but one part of a wider team of professionals delivering this excellent level of care.



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