Nurses are the backbone of any healthcare system in the world. During the last couple of years, the importance of nurses in addressing the healthcare requirements of an increasing number of patients has never been greater. They have fought as frontline soldiers in the battle against COVID-19. Nurses not only support patients through illness and health but also manage numerous administrative issues like maintaining medical records, collaborating with medical teams, operating medical equipment, performing tests, and providing support and advice to patients.
Once they have a few years of clinical experience, many nurses strive to advance to a position in nursing leadership. Becoming a leader or manager in your nursing profession means you will be responsible for certain departments or teams within your healthcare organization. Your department will look towards you for decision-making. If you have analytical thinking abilities and excellent communication and interpersonal skills, you are the perfect candidate to become a leader or manager in the nursing field.
Leadership positions in nursing can lead to executive-level careers and high-paying jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the top nursing roles in healthcare management and leadership:
- Director of Nursing (DN)
The Director of Nursing is among the top leadership roles in nursing management. A DN supervises all nursing staff and is responsible for the care that this staff provides patients. A DN is involved in all aspects of nursing, from hiring, training, and budgeting to establishing protocols and procedures for nursing staff.
A major incentive of this position is that the director of nursing salary is remarkably high, ranging from $70,000 to $130,000, depending on your experience and leadership capabilities. The primary goal of a director of nursing is to provide great patient care by motivating the nurses in their facility or department. A DN achieves this goal by organizing and directing teams to provide excellent patient care, developing the department’s strategy, and ensuring every team member complies with complex healthcare regulations.
The fact is that a director of nursing needs to be in communication with a facility’s administrative staff as well as the higher management. This position requires you to dedicate long hours to work.
To be a director of nursing, a nurse needs to have a valid RN license and a BSN degree. You may also require to pass an NCLEX-RN exam as a pre-requisite in certain health facilities. A director of nursing can be a very fulfilling career choice in nursing administration if you can inspire the staff of nurses to strive for excellence and create a setting where they like working, and patients are well cared for.
- Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
As the name suggests, chief nursing offer is one of the top leadership positions among nursing practitioners. The chief nursing officer works directly under the CEO to manage the nursing practitioner (NP) staff and ensure that all nursing procedures are safe and smooth. CNOs are mainly employed in health facilities that operate from multiple locations or have many NPs working in their facility.
To become a chief nursing practitioner, you need to be certified in your specialty area after completing your MSN or DNP. Moreover, an experience of 5+ years and proven leadership and managerial skills are a must to get promoted as a CNO. All the educational certifications and experience pay off when you become a CNO as they receive a whopping $120,000 or more in salary.
- Patient Care Director
Patent care directors are one of the nursing management positions that can lead to a highly fulfilling career. A patient care director can train and inspire nurses to deliver excellent patient care.
A patient care director manages all staff and programs related to patient services. Although their role is primarily in hospitals, many larger medical organizations and health agencies also employ them for executive-level supervision of specialized teams, leading them to achieve patient care goals. A patient care director focuses exclusively on addressing patients’ concerns and staff training. A patient care director is responsible for ensuring that all the programs and patient caregiving procedures are directed towards the patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Aspiring patient care directors must have a legal RN license and an MSN or DNP degree. A nurse with a BSN degree can also be considered for the role, provided they have performed exceptionally well or work in a relatively smaller healthcare facility. Nurses with a business management background are ideal candidates for this role as it requires strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
Being a patient care director is slightly less stressful than the director of nursing and chief nursing officer, and so are the benefits. Although the salaries are somewhat lower than the roles mentioned above, a patient care director’s salary is more than $110,000 annually.
- Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
A clinical nurse leader is a skilled nurse who provides information to hospital nurses and the medical staff. You can seek a career as a clinical nurse leader if you’re interested in advancing your nursing career but don’t think becoming a nurse practitioner is right for you. Clinical nurse leaders are frequently seen as organizational leaders who introduce more effective and secure healthcare approaches.
One of the major responsibilities of a clinical nurse leader is to improve the quality of patient care by improving patient outcomes. Clinical nurse leadership is an expansive role that requires you to work as a team leader with nurses, doctors, and the healthcare facility’s administrative staff.
Besides healthcare facilities, clinical nurse leaders can work in educational institutions, medical consultancy agencies, and research facilities. Being a registered nurse (RN) and having an MSN degree focusing on clinical nurse leadership and a minimum of 5 years of experience in a nursing leadership position are the pre-requisites to becoming a clinical nurse leader.
A clinical nurse leader typically earns around $100,000 or more depending on the organization’s size, leadership skills, knowledge, and experience. Clinical nurse leadership is a new career and an excellent opportunity for highly skilled and experienced nurses to excel in leadership roles.
Nursing management and leadership positions are ideal for RNs who want to maximize patient care by taking advantage of these executive-level positions. The administrative and managerial roles in nursing require excellent organizational, collaborative, communicative, analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. Additionally, RNs need to be compassionate, adaptable, and skilled at managing disagreements and emergencies to retain rapport with patients and colleagues.
Through advanced education and polished experience, you can climb the ladder of success, assume control, and reach the heights of your career in nursing.