Becoming a Nurse Administrator in Wisconsin

Healthcare workers perform some of the most important duties in our society. They ensure the health and well-being of all members of the community. Nurses, in particular, are known for their hands-on approach to patient care. But who takes care of the nurses?

This is where a nurse administrator comes in. A nurse administrator is expected to perform a wide array of duties like a nurse would. Nurse administrators—also known as nurse managers or nurse directors—may be responsible for tasks such as:

  • Creating and following a budget for the nursing department
  • Hiring and training the nursing staff
  • Ensuring the overall welfare of patients
  • Representing nurses as the liaison between them and other hospital workers
  • Organizing schedules and overseeing nurses
  • Developing policies that ensure the protection of nursing staff

Because they have so many duties, nurse administrators are compensated handsomely. In Wisconsin, a nurse administrator can expect to average $95,552 a year, with the highest salaries going above $115,345 a year. As you can see, nurse administration is a great option for those looking for a managerial role in healthcare.

The path to becoming a successful nurse administrator cannot be encapsulated in a single article. Each person must choose their path based on their skills, education, budget and dedication. Nurse administration is not the easiest path to take, but it is quite rewarding.

First Steps to Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Before becoming a nurse administrator, you must first gain experience as a traditional nurse. This is because, in order to hire, train, and manage other nurses, you must have hands-on experience as a nurse yourself. Luckily for Wisconsin residents, this state has many reputable schools with excellent nursing programs.

Most nurse administration roles will expect you to have a master’s or doctorate, but it’s best to start with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This undergraduate degree will lay the foundation for you to become a well-rounded nurse, and your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Ph.D. can teach you the skills needed to become a nurse administrator. Before making any major decisions, think about where you are on your educational journey, your goals, and how much you’re willing to spend before embarking on your nurse administration course.

Top-Rated Nurse Administration and Leadership Programs in Wisconsin

Here is a list of some of the highest-ranking and well-known nurse administrator schools in Wisconsin:

1. University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M) is one of several schools in the University of Wisconsin System, and it is one of the highest-ranking schools in the state. Being founded in 1924, UW-Madison has a long history of training excellent nurses for their future careers. The university offers a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN and RN to BSN program. The accelerated BSN allows you to become a badger nurse in just 12 months, while the RN to BSN program allows those with an associate degree in nursing or registered nurses to take online classes to finish their degree in one and a half to two and a half years. Students here can also become a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Check out their scholarships to see how you can help fund your education.

2. Marquette University

Marquette University offers a wide range of BSN, MSN, DNP, Ph.D. and certificate options. If you have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, you can take your non-nursing degree and join the Direct Entry MSN Program to transition into a career in nursing within 19-21 months. They also have opportunities for students to study abroad and minor in various subjects. As an aspiring nurse administrator, Marquette’s Nursing Health Systems Leadership program will be of particular interest to you. Its online format is convenient and accessible for busy lifestyles. Marquette students are encouraged to seek private scholarships, though the Nancy Long Pesiri Scholarship is available to one nursing student entering their first year of studies.

3. Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) is a great school to consider if one is looking for a BSN or MSN in nursing. Like Marquette University, MSOE also offers a Direct Entry MSN Program. Further, MSOE provides the option to study Leadership and Management as a master’s student. One of the major highlights of this school is its Ruehlow Nursing Complex. Completed in 2013, this state-of-the-art complex was designed to create the perfect environment for nursing students. With plans to expand over 2000 square feet, this facility will prove to be a wonderful resource for future nurse administrators. Additionally, MSOE offers various scholarships, some of which are based on FASFA records or GPA.

4. Edgewood College

With a low faculty-to-student ratio of 12:1, Edgewood College is ideal for people who want a personalized experience on their way to becoming a nurse administrator. Like many schools, Edgewood College offers BSN, MSN and Ph.D. programs. You can begin your nursing education with just an associate’s and graduate with a master’s degree. You can also get a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), a degree that specializes in indirect care. In just two years, you can be prepared for a role as a nurse administrator with a specialty in providing evidence-based care systems management. Before enrolling, however, be aware that Catholic courses are required for all students because of the college’s Catholic roots. Edgewood offers several scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarship for students with an average cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher.

5. Viterbo University

Though Viterbo University is a Roman Catholic school, anyone of any faith is welcome to enroll in its programs. Their BSN program provides practical, hands-on experiences that start as early as sophomore year, and the school also boasts high NCLEX-RN pass rates. Viterbo has close relations with Belize clinics and participates in the federally funded Nursing for Underserved Rural Students Seeking Educational Success (NURSES) program for those who wish to make a more profound impact on disadvantaged communities. The university also offers over 15 types of scholarships to help finance your education.

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses

Finishing your BSN, MSN or Ph.D. is merely the first step in reaching your goal of becoming a nurse administrator. Next, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN. This exam aims to test your knowledge and competency as an entry-level nurse. The exam lasts five hours, is pass/fail and has between 75 and 145 multiple-choice questions.

Registration for the exam can all be done online. You must submit an application for registration with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and pay a registration fee through Pearson VUE. In addition to your studies at your university or college, it is essential that you take time to study for the exam on your own. Many books and online resources can help you prepare for the exam. However, be aware that the test will change in 2023, so you should anticipate any changes depending on when you take the exam.

After You Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

You’re now one step closer to your goal of becoming a nurse administrator. After passing the necessary exam, you’ll need to gain several years’ experience as a nurse. Each nurse takes on a different role depending on their position and location. It’s best to try to find jobs that relate to your coursework in college and careers that genuinely interest you as a healthcare professional.

Some great sites to find jobs are LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter and Indeed. These sites are updated regularly and can give you a good sense of what the job market in your area is like. These sites, along with networking and alumni connections, will help you find a great job that will help you continue your path to nurse administration.

Continuing Education and License Renewal

While many registered nurses (RNs) in other states must take Continuing Education (CE) classes, it is not required for RNs in Wisconsin. Instead, RNs must renew their licenses online for about $60 by the end of February of each year.

Extra Resources

One of the best ways to land jobs, connect with fellow healthcare workers and gain even more skills in your field is to join some of the nursing associations available in the US. These valuable resources have annual memberships and myriad benefits.

You can look into the American Nurses Association (ANA) at the national level. Joining this group can offer you benefits such as informative webinars, networking opportunities, discounts on publications and advancing your future career. You can even join ANA as a nursing student to get a glimpse of your life after graduation. Because ANA works at the national level to support nurses, becoming a part of this cohort will mean making an impact in the professional lives of both yourself and the nurses that work with you.

The Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA) also represents over 90,000 nurses in the state. Access to the site is limited unless you are already a Wisconsin RN, but the WNA offers educational events and networking opportunities to help you develop your career as a nurse administrator.