How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Michigan

Nurse administrators are highly-trained healthcare workers with experience with patients and executive and leadership skills. Most begin their careers as registered nurses and work toward leadership roles with graduate degrees. If you’re interested in managing healthcare systems and being a decision-maker in improving patient care, consider becoming a nurse and then a nurse administrator.

What is a Nurse Administrator?

A nurse administrator is a type of health services manager. They oversee and manage nursing departments in hospitals, residential and assisted living facilities, clinics, outpatient medical centers, and physician offices.

Clinical nurse administrators supervise nurses and other staff, recruit and train new staff, manage schedules and budgets, ensure compliance with healthcare and privacy regulations, and facilitate professional development. They are leaders in a healthcare setting and don’t generally engage in hands-on patient care. They help medical facilities run more smoothly and ensure patients get effective, efficient care.

The Steps to Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Michigan does not certify or license nurse administrators, but they have generally experienced nurses with additional credentials. Your first step in becoming a nurse administrator is to become a registered nurse (RN). Start with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Although Michigan also accepts associate degrees for RNs, if you want to work toward a leadership role, it’s essential to earn a BSN.

The BSN program takes four years to finish if you attend school on a full-time basis. The Michigan Board of Nursing lists approved nursing education programs. You need to complete an approved program to become an RN in the state.

With a BSN, you’ll be ready to take the additional steps to become licensed through Michigan’s Bureau of Professional Licensing. Requirements include:

  • A passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
  • A fee paid to the Bureau of Professional Licensing
  • A criminal background check
  • A moral character survey
  • Training to identify human trafficking victims
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Implicit bias training

With an RN credential, your next step should be to gain work experience. Most employers only hire administrators who have actually worked as nurses. This is important for understanding the work nurses do and being good managers and supervisors. Aim for at least one year of work experience.

These are the minimum requirements to begin working in a leadership role, but many nurse administrators hold graduate degrees. Many employers require a master’s degree or higher. Options include Master of Science degrees in nursing or health administration. Some administrators have doctoral degrees, but these are rarely required.

Michigan Nurse Administrator Programs

Once you have a nursing degree and have worked as an RN for some time, you might want to move into a leadership role. You can begin working on a related graduate degree while employed as a nurse or take time off and take courses full-time to earn the degree sooner. Several Michigan schools offer relevant degree programs.

1. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Flint

The Ann Arbor Campus of U of M’s School of Nursing offers an MSN in nursing with a Leadership, Analytics, and Innovation focus. This program is specifically designed to help nurses become leaders in healthcare settings.

The leadership program helps nurses take their clinical experience and apply it to the management of patient care. Students use data analytics, innovations, creativity, and traditional nursing to drive changes and improvements in patient care. The program includes a two-year and a three-year option. Students can also choose between an online and a residential setting for coursework.

For students interested in a more advanced degree, the Flint campus offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a concentration in executive leadership. The program combines online programming with on-campus learning. You must have a master’s degree in nursing to be admitted to the program.

2. Ferris State University, Big Rapids

Ferris State’s Master of Science in Nursing degree includes concentration options in education, informatics, and administration. Choose the latter to become a nurse administrator. The coursework gives nurses a foundation in business administration applied to the healthcare setting. The MSN in administration prepares graduates for entry-level healthcare management roles.

Some examples in the coursework for the program include healthcare systems, policy, and advocacy, organization and systems leadership, quality improvement and safety, leadership role for nursing administration, and clinical practice. To gain acceptance into the program, you must have a BSN with transcripts that show at least a 3.0 grade point average, an RN license, and two years of clinical nursing experience.

3. University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit

The College of Health Professions and McAuley School of Nursing offer several graduate nursing degrees. For aspiring nurse administrators, the Nursing and Healthcare Leadership (NHL) program offers a master’s degree and a doctoral degree. The former requires 63 credits of coursework. The doctoral program requires an additional 24 credits. Both programs also include clinical hours.

The NHL degree is designed to prepare students for a variety of leadership roles in healthcare. The program coursework includes communication, relationship building, professionalism, business, leadership skills, and knowledge of the healthcare environment.

Most of the coursework occurs online, but students must also complete a certain number of hours in a clinical setting. Out-of-state students can find placement where they live, so local residency is not required. Admission requirements include a nursing degree from an accredited school, 2,000 hours or more of clinical nursing experience, and an RN license.

4. Baker College, Online

Baker College has several campuses in Michigan, but its nursing school offers a fully online program. It is accredited by CCNE, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The MSN in nursing administration is a 36-credit hour program that takes most students two years to complete. The school also offers an accelerated path for students interested in finishing in less time.

The program is designed to train experienced nurses for leadership roles in the healthcare industry. An additional track gives students the option to focus on education rather than administration. Some of the courses in the administration track include human resources management, healthcare finance, foundations of nursing administration, and health law and ethics.

In addition to standard online courses, the Baker program offers the option to take advantage of Extended Reality learning. This is a way for students to engage in hands-on learning in a convenient, virtual setting from any location. To be admitted to the program, students must have a valid and current RN license and graduate from an accredited nursing program.

Nursing Administration Certifications

Certifications beyond the RN credential are optional for nurse administrators. You might want to earn these to advance your career or to give yourself an advantage over other job candidates. Certifications from recognized organizations demonstrate your knowledge, education, training, and experience.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center‘s Nurse Executive Certification is a good place to start. It is a credential designed for nurse leaders in charge of a single staff group. The Nurse Executive Advanced Certification is the next step for nurses supervising multiple groups and with a greater focus on policy, finances, and high-level decision making.

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership offers a credential called Certified in Executive Nursing Practice. It is recognized industry-wide as a certification for nursing executives and administrators.

Nurse Administration Outlook and Salaries

All healthcare careers are growing throughout the US and in Michigan. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes nurse administrators under the heading of Medical and Health Services Managers. The BLS reports that this field will grow by an astounding 32% between 2020 and 2030.

Projections Central predicts there will be 13,370 new job openings in nurse administration in Michigan between 2018 and 2028. This represents 7% growth, which is slower than national growth but still robust.

The nationwide average salary for professionals in this industry is around $101,000 per year. The top earners make more than $200,000. Michigan’s salaries are a little lower but still impressive. The median annual salary is $97,930 for nurse administrators in the state. The highest earners make over $162,000 per year.

Working as a Nurse Administrator in Michigan

With strong growth in healthcare and nursing administration, finding a position in Michigan should not be difficult once you have the right experience and credentials. Anywhere healthcare is offered, and nurses work, facilities need nurse administrators to lead staff.

While even rural areas need nursing staff, you’ll find the most jobs in Michigan’s most significant cities with major medical facilities: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Traverse City.

Nurse administrators work in hospitals, government facilities, medical clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, ambulatory and specialty surgery centers, and large physician offices. They also work for home healthcare companies, managing nursing staff that goes into people’s homes to provide care.

The role of a nurse administrator is essential to the smooth, safe functioning of many types of healthcare settings. If you are a nurse or are interested in the field and advancing to a leadership role, consider becoming a nurse administrator in Michigan.