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HEALTHCARE CAREER GUIDES

Nursing Director Career

OVERVIEW

What is a Nursing Director?


 

In a healthcare facility and ensuring patients receive quality care. This position requires a strong knowledge of nursing practices and healthcare regulations along with excellent leadership and management skills. A nursing director must communicate effectively with staff, patients, and other healthcare professionals while balancing the organization's financial needs.  

The average workday for a nursing director begins with a team meeting, where the director sets the tone for the day ahead and assigns tasks to each team member. Then, the director may review patient care plans, assess staffing needs, and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. Working with other hospital departments, such as finance and human resources, is also often necessary. The nursing director must juggle multiple roles throughout the day and prioritize competing demands. Overall, they play a vital role in ensuring that patient outcomes are positive and that the nursing staff is properly trained and equipped to handle the diverse needs of their patients.

RESPONSIBILITIES

What Does a Nursing Director Do?

A typical day for a nursing director is filled with a variety of responsibilities, most notably:

  • Managing nursing staff
  • Creating and monitoring budgets
  • Ensuring high standards of care
  • Overseeing patient data and records
  • Designing and supervising nurse training programs 
  • Developing and implementing policies and procedures 
  • Hiring and onboarding new nursing staff
  • Communicating with patients, families, doctors, healthcare staff, and other nurses

EDUCATION & BEST DEGREES

How Do I Become a Nursing Director?

Earn a bachelor’s degree in related health sciences

To become a nursing director, you'll typically need a registered nurse (RN) license and a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Relevant work experience in the nursing field is also important. Some nursing directors may pursue a master's degree in nursing or healthcare administration to further their expertise. Once you have met the required education and experience qualifications, seek out management or leadership roles within healthcare facilities to gain additional skills and experience related to team management, budgeting, and strategic planning. With a passion for healthcare and a drive for leadership, aspiring nursing directors can establish themselves as credible and capable professionals in this rewarding career field. 

Best Degrees for a Nursing Director

Nursing (RN-to-BSN Online) – B.S.

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added...

An online BSN degree program for registered nurses (RNs) seeking the added theoretical depth, employability, and respect that a bachelor's degree brings:

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 20 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 23 total courses in this program.
  • Transfers: Students can transfer up to 90 credits.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Healthcare Policy and Economics
  • Information Technology in Nursing Practice
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Applied Healthcare Statistics

If you don't currently have an RN and don't qualify for your nursing prelicensure program, consider getting our Bachelor's in Health and Human Services instead. This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry in a unique way.

MBA Healthcare Management

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare organizations....

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare organizations.

  • Time: Graduates can finish within (((months.mbahcm))) months.
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 11 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include: 

  • Regulatory compliance
  • Patient care improvement
  • Service line development
  • Healthcare trends
  • Health policy and legislation

Healthcare is big business in today's complex economy.  Steer your career with this specialty MBA.

Compare online business degrees

This program is not the only online business degree WGU offers that is designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Master of Healthcare Administration

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care, directly...

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care, directly in line with innovations in health and healthcare.

  • Time: 60% of grads finish within 21 months. 
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 12 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Healthcare Models and Systems
  • Healthcare Financial Management
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Healthcare Information Technology

Your rich experience in a health-related field can mean more when you bring a master's level of understanding to the problems that organizations need to solve.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 62% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 37 months.
  • Tuition: $4,685 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion and $4,795 per 6-month term during graduate portion.
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program:

  • Quality Outcomes in a Culture of Value-Based Nursing Care
  • Nursing Leadership and Management
  • Advanced Pathopharmacological Foundations
  • Informatics for Transforming Nursing Care

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality. This program is ideal for current RNs who are interested in earning both their BSn and MSN in an accelerated program.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for additional career opportunities.

  • Time: 61% of grads finish within 23 months
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program

This program is ideal for current RNs who have a BSN and are ready for the next step in their education.

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program:

  • Quality Outcomes in a Culture of Value-Based Nursing Care
  • Nursing Leadership and Management
  • Advanced Pathopharmacological Foundations
  • Informatics for Transforming Nursing Care

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing Leadership and Management – Post-Master's Certificate

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who...

A certificate for registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing who are ready for greater responsibility in a leadership and management role.

  • Time: Students typically finish this program in 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,795 per 6-month term. The cost to sit for the NAHQ Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) exam is included in tuition.
  • Courses: 8 total courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Resource Management
  • Business Case Analysis
  • Evaluating Healthcare Improvements

How Much Does a Nursing Director Make?

$101,340

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a nursing director is around $101,340. However, this varies based on factors such as years of experience, geographic location, and type of healthcare facility. It's important to note that nursing directors often have advanced degrees and extensive experience in the nursing field before being promoted to this role.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

32%

The job outlook for a nursing director is positive, with a projected growth rate of 28% from 2021 to 2031. As healthcare services expand to accommodate an aging population, there will be an increased demand for nursing directors, who play a critical role in overseeing the delivery of patient care. 

SKILLS

What Skills Does a Nursing Director Need?

With so many responsibilities and duties, nursing directors must possess the following skills: 

  • Leadership: As a nursing director, effectively leading a team is crucial in creating a cohesive, effective workplace. Leadership skills are utilized in every aspect of the job, from hiring and training new staff members to delegating responsibilities and overseeing daily operations.
  • Healthcare knowledge: Industry knowledge is used to make informed decisions that positively impact patient care, staff management, and budget allocation. Nursing directors use their healthcare knowledge to monitor patient care and verify that it meets regulatory standards.
  • Clear communication: In this role, communication is required across many levels, from talking to patients and families to collaborating with colleagues and upper management. Clear and concise communication guarantees everyone is on the same page and achieves goals efficiently and effectively.
  • Advocacy: By leveraging the skill of advocacy, nursing directors can help create a healthier, more equitable healthcare system for everyone involved. Advocacy can come in many forms, from speaking up in meetings and pushing for better policies and procedures to meeting with lawmakers and other leaders to help influence positive change on a larger scale.
  • Resource management: Resource management encompasses everything from staff and equipment to funding and supplies. A skilled nursing director will be able to analyze the needs of their department and allocate resources accordingly to make certain that patient care is efficient and effective. 
  • Problem-solving: Nursing directors must be able to identify issues and work collaboratively with others to find solutions that will benefit both the organization and patients. Through problem-solving, nursing directors can follow a structured process to make sound judgments, collect data, generate alternative solutions, analyze their feasibility, and choose the most appropriate one.
  • Team management: A nursing director relies heavily on their ability to manage a team to ensure the smooth operation of the nursing department. Successful directors understand that managing a team is an ongoing process. Developing successful relationships within the group will always directly impact the quality of care provided and, ultimately, the overall strength of the nursing department.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Nursing Director?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.