Becoming a Nurse Administrator in Idaho

Idaho is currently the fastest-growing state in the United States. Between 2020 and 2022, the state had growth rates of about 3%. Due to the growing population in a largely rural state, Idaho needs more healthcare workers and has many open positions for nurses and nursing administrators. As more hospitals are built in metropolitan cities, such as Boise, and clinics are going up in rural towns like Salmon, nurse administration positions are popping up all over the state.

Nurse Administrators are one of the most important leadership positions in healthcare. While managing administrative and operational duties, nurse administrators also oversee the daily management of hospitals and long-term care facilities. Nurse administrators ensure their institution runs smoothly at the highest possible standards of care.

Becoming a nurse administrator requires a dedication to higher education. Idaho has some of the most flexible requirements to become a nurse administrator, but does require a master’s degree, clinical hours and supervised clinical practice. Though this path can feel long and tedious, working as a nurse administrator is a rewarding career that benefits your entire community.

Career Outlook for Nurse Administrators

A 2018 report stated there were 18,998 registered nurses (RNs) in Idaho. This number has increased over the past four years, but not at the same rate as the state’s population growth. As new medical centers are built, and nursing positions open up, nurse administrator positions will also open and need to be filled.

The necessary higher education degree and experience requirements mean nurse administrator positions have high and desirable salaries. The average salary for an Idaho-based nurse administrator was $115,551 in 2022. Idaho nurse administrators’ salaries are generally between $102,758 and $128,590.

Due to limited opportunities to pursue a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) from accredited Idaho schools, nursing administrator roles are usually filled by out-of-state applicants. Idaho does not have any administration-focused MSN degrees within the state. This also causes roadblocks during the hiring process as Idaho has different requirements for clinical experience and requires applicants to have an equivalent licensure within the nursing field. Equivalent licensure could be an RN, LNP, or a nurse administrator license from another state. Idaho licensing is looking for individuals who have a higher education degree in healthcare, but not necessarily nurse administration. They want to recruit leaders in healthcare willing to train in an administrative role.

Leadership is a highly desirable quality for nurse administrators. Obtaining the experience and education necessary can help prospective nurse administrators understand how to take charge in a clinical setting and juggle the ever-changing pieces of the healthcare field.

Certification and Licensing Requirements for Nurse Administrators in Idaho

To become a nurse administrator in Idaho, applicants must prove a combination of education, experience and clinical training in addition to passing both national and state exams. Idaho also requires nurse administrators to participate in an administrator-in-training program that allows applicants to get experience under supervision.

  • An applicant must prove the following elements to obtain a nursing administrator license in Idaho:
  • Applicants must demonstrate a clean criminal record and good-standing moral background
  • A passing score on the national exam conducted by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB)
  • A passing score on the Idaho Laws and Rules exam
  • A valid license for nursing administration from another state or an equivalent license within the nursing field
  • One of the following educational experiences:
    • 1,000 hours as an administrator in training in another state
    • 1,000 hours as an administrator in a training program or as an administrator in another state
    • A master’s degree in healthcare administration with a focus on long-term care from an accredited university
    • A master’s degree in healthcare administration or business administration with a healthcare focus and one year of management experience

Idaho’s licensure requirements don’t specify that applicants need an MSN degree but instead focus on experience and education in healthcare administration. Though concentrating on an MSN degree in healthcare administration is an excellent professional move, especially for nurses, these flexible requirements make it easier for Idaho to recruit qualified nurse administrators from other states and backgrounds.

Nurse Administration Programs in Idaho

1. Idaho State University

Idaho State University offers two paths to obtaining licensure as a nurse administrator. The university has a Master of Nursing Program and a Master of Healthcare Administration program focused on business administration in the medical field.

To find the program that is the best fit for a prospective nurse administrator’s career goals, they need to evaluate their future career goals. Will they want to stay practicing in Idaho or move to a state with different nurse administrator requirements? What type of facility do they want to work in? Do they want to focus on patient interaction or the business side of healthcare? Understanding their goals as a nurse administrator will help them decide on an Idaho State University program.

The average cost of a complete graduate education at ISU is $30,653 for in-state tuition and $65,010 for out-of-state tuition. This approximation may vary slightly between programs.

Master of Nursing (MSN)

The MSN program at Idaho State University focuses on education and preparing current nurses to be leaders and educators in the healthcare field. This program is delivered entirely online with the exception of required lab and practicum hours.

The MSN program would benefit individuals who want to emphasize education in a nurse administrator role. The graduate program would fulfill education requirements for Idaho licensure but would require prospective nurse administrators to complete an administrator-in-training program and prove additional experience as the program is education-based rather than administration-based.

Idaho State University requires the following for admission to the MSN program:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • A GPA of at least 3.00 in undergraduate coursework
  • An application should be submitted by December 1st. This program does not review applications on a rolling basis.
  • A current and valid Registered Nurse (RN) license
  • Attendance of orientation on-campus in Pocatello, ID

Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)

The MHA program is designed for recent healthcare graduates as well as professionals looking to cultivate more education and experience in the healthcare industry. Advertised as one of the most affordable programs in Idaho, the MHA program aims to make a graduate degree accessible while students continue to work in professional positions.

This program provides the foundation for licensure as a nurse administrator in Idaho by providing the higher education piece of licensure requirements. Potential nurse administrators will also have to complete training as a nurse administrator or prove other administration experience to be licensed in Idaho.

Idaho State University requires the following for admission to the MHA program:

  • Submission of an undergraduate transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume
  • Submission of MCAT or GRE/GME scores

2. Boise State University

Master of Business with a focus in Healthcare Leadership (MBA)

This entirely online program allows students to obtain an MBA with an emphasis on healthcare leadership. Though not the best path if pursuing a nurse administrator position outside of Idaho, this program is suitable for students looking for professional training within the education setting.

The program focuses on leadership challenges and opportunities in the perpetually changing medical landscape. It aims to teach students the best business practices in healthcare administration and how to be a business leader in a clinical setting.

This degree can be done in one year and allows students to work from anywhere as it is entirely remote. The only obstacle to this program is its lack of clinical experience. The MBA is granted through the school of business, and though students can focus on healthcare leadership, their cohort may be focusing on other career paths in business. With clinical experience or an RN license, students could parlay this degree into a future nurse administrator certification in Idaho, but it may be a stretch in other states with different licensing requirements.

This program requires applicants to submit an application after requesting more information from Boise State University. This application may require the following:

  • Transcripts from an undergraduate degree
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume

A graduate program at Boise State University costs approximately $25,641 for in-state tuition and $42,835 for out-of-state tuition.

Additional Requirements

One of the most significant issues facing prospective nurse administrators based in Idaho is the lack of in-state programs focused specifically on nurse administration or healthcare administration. Licensure requires some experience or training as an administrator in a healthcare setting in addition to a higher education degree. Due to these requirements and potential nurse administrator career goals, getting an education outside of Idaho may be the best path to becoming certified as a nurse administrator in Idaho.

Idaho does allow transfer licensure and certification. This means that seeking out-of-state education could give prospective nurse administrators a more focused education on nurse administration. Seeking out Master of Nursing programs with an administration focus tends to benefit potential applicants better. Idaho does not yet have any nurse administration-specific programs.