How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Virginia

Nurse administrators play a vital role as part of a medical team, supervising nursing staff and handling their department’s day-to-day activities in a constantly learning and growing field. In the role of nurse administrator, you may help develop policies and procedures, coordinate with other departments, and plan budgets. A nurse administrator makes the decisions for the department they are in charge of, attends meetings and communicates effectively with staff and superiors.

The majority of nurse administrators are employed at hospitals, but they typically work in an office rather than out on the floor, where you’ll find much of their staff. If you are a nurse administrator working for a healthcare system with multiple facilities, you might find yourself traveling between them to perform duties at each. You may also find employment as a nurse administrator in a clinic, long-term care facility, research facility, school or other medical care venues.

Employment Outlook for Nurse Administrators in Virginia

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a nurse administrator employed in Virginia makes around $96,425, but the salary can fall between $87,173 and $106,880. Salaries are based upon factors such as experience, education and certifications, so that they may vary from employer to employer. Your salary may also be affected by factors such as the employer’s location, your experience, the credentials held, and other factors.

As the demand for registered nursing continues to grow, the job outlook for nurse administrators remains equally solid and growing steadily. Qualified, skilled nurses will always be needed to take the next step into managerial and supervisory roles. For an RN intent on moving into a more demanding role in their career, the nurse administrator position offers higher pay and an increase in responsibilities. This career path offers a chance to take on a leadership role in an environment that provides more regular hours and more significant benefits.

Requirements to Become a Nurse Administrator in Virginia

Before becoming a nurse administrator in Virginia, you must first obtain a license as a registered nurse. This requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and an active, unencumbered nursing license. Additionally, some employers might require that you have a master’s degree. Experience can play a big part in landing a nurse administrator job. Your reputation, skills and knowledge are valuable assets that will play a key role in whether an employer chooses you over other candidates for the position.

Where you attended college can also factor into an employer’s decision about hiring you. Currently, at least 20 universities in Virginia offer an undergraduate BSN degree. The tuition you pay can be affected by decisions like the school you choose, the type of degree you achieve, and how you attend classes. You may prefer to take classes online, in person or combine the two.

Students completing their BSN at a Virginia University have a high success rate in passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Finishing your degree in this state puts you in an excellent position for immediate employment upon licensure. It will serve you well as you move into your desired nurse administrator role.

Top Ranking Nursing Programs for Future Nurse Leaders in Virginia

The list of schools below includes some of the top schools regarding the strength of their curriculum, affordability and student success rates.

1. Radford University (RU)

Radford University in Radford has an impressive 100% NCLEX passing rate and offers reasonable yearly tuition of about $7,922 for state residents.

The student enrollment at RU is low, meaning this institution can provide smaller class sizes for a more personalized learning experience. This sort of teaching environment, coupled with its affordable price tag for education, makes it a popular choice for students wishing to pursue a BSN. Radford is known for cranking out registered nurses who are ready to start their careers immediately. The generalized focus of their curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for various nursing jobs, which lends to their students’ high NCLEX passing rate.

2. Hampton University (HU)

Hampton University in Hampton is one of the more expensive universities in the state, with an annual in-state tuition rate of around $24,950, but an NCLEX pass rate of 100 percent makes it worth the money.

HU is a historically Black university full of robust traditions and vibrant culture. The school offers the prestige that comes from graduating from one of the most respected schools in the union. Students who achieve their BSN at Hampton University are well-positioned to enter the world of nursing with the education and skills they need to be successful registered nurses fully qualified to move forward into a career as nurse administrators in the years ahead.

3. James Madison University (JMU)

James Madison University in Harrisonburg offers a low in-state tuition rate of $7,250 annually. The school has a 97.2% NCLEX Pass Rate.

JMU is a large public university with a lot to offer students. Its size is one of the reasons it can keep tuition rates low, and the number of students means there is a high student-to-instructor ratio. The exception to this is the nursing program which offers one teacher to every ten students. The smaller classes present in their BSN program are instrumental in providing those who attend with a solid academic and clinical knowledge base with which to begin their careers.

4. University of Lynchburg (UL)

The University of Lynchburg in Lynchburg charges about $39,720 annually for in-state tuition. Their pass rate on the NCLEX is 98%.

Though the cost of nursing education at UL comes with a considerable price tag, it is well worth it. This private university offers smaller class sizes and state-of-the-art facilities where potential new registered nurses can learn real-world skills in a safe, controlled environment. Graduates of this BSN program are offered positions at higher rates than many of their counterparts, not only at top-notch medical providers in the state but also all across the country.

5. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Virginia Commonwealth University offers annual in-state tuition of about $14,490 and an NCLEX pass rate of 94.30%.

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond is nationally recognized for its highly ranked nursing programs. Though they’ve been praised for their graduate nursing programs, their BSN program is also known for its exceptional curriculum. A combination of academic excellence and outstanding practical skills are at least partly what set graduates of this program apart from the competition and make them highly sought after upon completion of their courses. Listing VCU on your resume when you begin seeking a position as a nurse administrator puts you a step ahead of other applicants.

These are the top schools, but there are other quality universities available to provide the founding education you’ll need to achieve your goal of becoming a nurse administrator. A bit of research into the programs and outlook for graduates from any school will give you a better idea of what they have to offer. Do your homework, and you’ll find the right school for you.

Additional Requirements to Become a Nurse Administrator in Virginia

Once you’ve completed your BSN degree, you will need to pass the Virginia Board of Nursing (VBN) exam to become a licensed registered nurse. In addition to providing adequate transcripts and paying applicable fees, the VBN requires that you pass a fingerprint-based criminal background check.

Next, you will need to pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain a nursing license in Virginia. After you’ve submitted the information necessary to apply for the exam administered by Pearson VUE, you will receive permission to take the NCLEX-RN.

Applying to Become a Nurse Administrator

When you apply for a position as a nurse administrator, employers will want to see your credentials. Although you may be able to get a job at a smaller medical facility right out of college, most hiring managers are going to want to see a mix of experience and certifications to go with the basic requirement of holding a valid RN license without any encumberments. Adding previous management experience and any certifications you achieve along the way will be a bonus in landing your first nursing administrator position.

To maximize your chances of getting your first job as a nursing administrator, you should seek immediate employment as a registered nurse upon obtaining your license. This will allow you to gain the experience, skills, and knowledge needed to excel in your career choice. During your employment as an RN, you will need to complete all continuing education credits and keep your license in good standing. Any lapses can reflect poorly on your ability to organize and affect potential employment as a nurse administrator.

The competition for a position as a nurse administrator is fierce. There are fewer positions and more requirements than gaining a position as a general registered nurse. However, you can become a capable and well-earning nurse administrator with a solid education, good employment record, and excellent references.