How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Minnesota

If you’re interested in a healthcare career that allows you to be a real decision-maker while improving patient’s lives daily, consider nurse administration. Growth in this emerging industry is strong, as it is throughout all health and medical careers.

With the right credentials, you can find a rewarding job in Minnesota as a nurse administrator at a hospital, clinic, or nursing home. There are no legal requirements for this position, but most administrators are nurses with advanced degrees.

What is the Role of the Nurse Administrators Do?

A nurse administrator is a healthcare professional in a leadership role. They manage nursing staff primarily but might also have others under their supervision, such as orderlies and nursing assistants. Some work with a small group of staff, while other administrators run the entire department of nurses for a large facility, like a hospital. Nurse administrators have several important duties:

  • Hire, train, and evaluate nursing staff
  • Manage shifts and scheduling
  • Manage department budgets
  • Manage records
  • Communicate with medical staff
  • Ensure compliance with regulations and laws
  • Take and address patient complaints and concerns
  • Coordinate professional development opportunities

Higher-level nurse administrators spend minimal to no time with patients. They are more involved with the development and implementation of policies, interacting with other administrators and board members, and making financial decisions.

What You Need to Be a Nurse Administrator in Minnesota

State government does not regulate this profession, but employers generally only hire nurse administrators with relevant work experience and advanced degrees. If you’re looking to become a nurse administrator one day, follow these steps:

  1. Enroll in a nursing program. Nurse administrators are nurses first. They begin their careers as nurses and work toward leadership roles. The Minnesota Board of Nursing lists approved schools and programs. You can become a nurse with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. If you plan to become an administrator, it’s best to pursue the latter.
  2. Become an RN. A nursing program will prepare you to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This is required to become a registered nurse (RN). In addition to passing the NCLEX, you also need to undergo a background check, submit your transcripts, and complete an application through the Minnesota Board of Nursing.
  3. Work as a nurse. Most employers require that applicants to administrative and leadership positions have worked at least a year as a nurse. Once you have a license, look for a job as a nurse to gain work experience.
  4. Earn a graduate degree. You don’t strictly need an advanced degree for this role, but many employers look for it. A master’s in nursing with a concentration on leadership or administration is the best option for entering this career. A related degree might also be appropriate, such as a Master of Science in healthcare administration.

If you are preparing for an even higher level of administration, consider earning a doctoral degree in nursing or administration. A Master of Business Administration degree is also useful.

Nurse Administrator Programs in Minnesota

There are several graduate programs in Minnesota that prepare students to work as nurse administrators:

1. Minnesota State University, Moorhead

MSU’s Moorhead campus gives prospective nurse administrators a couple of options. You can opt for a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a choice of concentration. For an administration career, choose the MS in Nursing with emphasis in Nursing Administration and Organizational Systems Leadership (NAOSL).

The NAOSL concentration prepares graduates to work as leaders in healthcare. Courses in this track include nursing science, ethical, and transcultural theories, healthcare quality, safety and regulatory management, healthcare delivery systems, healthcare law and ethics, financial management, health information systems, and more.

MSU also allows students to dual enroll in the NAOSL master’s program and the Master of Healthcare Administration program. This means taking more courses, but the dual program provides even more comprehensive preparation for leadership in any healthcare setting, not just in nursing.

For students who aren’t yet ready to earn a master’s degree, MSU offers a NAOSL certificate. It is a quicker but still strong foundation for a leadership career. To be admitted to these graduate programs, you must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and a valid RN license.

2. Winona State University, Rochester

Winona State’s nursing school offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Nursing and Organizational Leadership (NOL). This program is specifically designed to help nurses become administrators and healthcare leaders.

The program includes coursework and clinical experience. Students learn how to manage other nurses and help them develop professionally. They take courses in budgeting, human resources, organization and systems leadership, healthcare ethics, information management, and more for a total of 43 credit hours and 420 clinical hours over the course of five semesters.

As an alternative to the degree program, students can choose a shorter certificate program in NOL. This includes 24 credit hours and 360 clinical hours. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in nursing and clinical nursing experience.

3. Augsburg University, Minneapolis

Augsburg offers a comprehensive list of options for nursing degrees at all levels, including bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees. For aspiring nurse administrators with a four-year degree and license, the Master of Arts in Nursing is a good option.

The MAN program offers two concentrations: transcultural nursing in community and transformational leadership. The leadership track is designed for nurses who want to become leaders and administrators in healthcare. Although the program offers general training for leadership, it emphasizes healthcare disparities and prepares nurse leaders to make positive changes.

Core courses in this track include leadership in complex adaptive systems, transcultural healthcare, and politics of health. Students also complete practical experience and finish their degree with a final project. To apply, you must have an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, an RN license, work experience, and a complete application.

4. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

The University of Minnesota’s Master of Nursing degree is a 16-month program with in-person courses and practical work experiences, amounting to about 500 hours. While there is no particular focus on leadership or administration, it is a good general degree for advancing a career in nursing.

Coursework in the program includes nursing research and evidence-based practice, interprofessional healthcare informatics, nursing leadership for effective practice, and moral and ethical positions and actions in nursing.

You do not need to have a nursing degree to enter this program. It will train you to earn an RN license and provide a foundation for later leadership. Admission requirements do include several college-level science and math courses and a minimum grade point average.

Certifications in Nursing Administration

Being a licensed RN is a minimum requirement to be hired as a nurse administrator. An advanced leadership degree is often required by employers. You do not need additional certifications, but it’s a good idea to work toward one or two of these to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and training.

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership is a widely-recognized professional organization that aims to support nurse leaders to provide better patient care. It offers a Certified in Executive Nursing Practice credential that most medical facilities and employers accept.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center is part of the American Nurses Association. It offers a credential called the Nurse Executive Certification for nurse administrators leading one group of nurses and other staff. The Nurse Executive Advanced Certification acknowledges an administrator’s ability to lead a larger group or multiple groups while making higher-level decisions.

Job Outlook and Salaries for Nurse Administrators

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all healthcare careers are growing, including nurse leadership roles, which it lists under the Medical and Health Services Managers heading. Growth in this area of healthcare is expected to be 32% over the next several years. Projections Central reports on growth in this career by state. In Minnesota, it predicts nearly 17% growth between 2018 and 2028.

The median salary for health managers across the US is $101,000 per year, while those who make the most earn around $200,000 annually. In Minnesota, the median salary is similar at $98,440. Top earners in the state make over $160,000.

Finding Work as a Nurse Administrator in Minnesota

Growth is exceptional throughout the healthcare industry. Hospitals and other facilities need trained, skilled, and experienced nurse leaders more than ever. With the right education and credentials, it should be easy to find a position as a nurse administrator nearly anywhere in Minnesota.

According to the BLS, about one-third of healthcare managers and administrators work in hospitals. They also work for government agencies, for instance, in Veterans Administration hospitals. They work in clinics and outpatient care centers, assisted living facilities and residential nursing homes, surgery centers, and physician offices.

Because healthcare operates everywhere, you should be able to find a job anywhere. The most opportunities will be in Minnesota’s biggest cities and largest health centers, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, Rochester, Bloomington, and Duluth.

Working as a nurse administrator can be a rewarding career. It allows you to take nursing experience and apply it to leadership and make real, positive changes for patient care. Start with a nursing degree and work your way to an administrative role for a lucrative, exciting career.