What Do You Study in a Nurse Administration Degree Program?

nurse administrator degree program

In a nurse administration degree program, you will study a mix of courses designed to prepare you for success in nurse leadership roles. This means studying not just the healthcare courses related to your industry, but also the business skills needed to oversee the nursing services provided by:

  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • ambulatory care centers
  • other healthcare facilities.

Nursing Courses

Naturally, students in a nurse administration degree program study nursing. However, they already have an undergraduate education. Aspiring nurse administrators went to nursing school when they were preparing to become registered nurses (RNs). Now they’re studying nursing and healthcare at the graduate level. Some coursework is theoretical in nature, while other work is in applied nursing and clinical environments.

Students in a nurse administration degree program study nursing and healthcare subjects including:

  • Nursing theory
  • Advanced community nursing
  • Clinical outcomes management
  • Health assessment
  • Practice patterns of nursing care delivery
  • Clinical evidence-based client care environment management
  • Theories and ethics for advanced nursing
  • Health care policy and quality health care delivery
  • Clinical leadership for advanced practice nursing
  • Health care issues
  • Informatics in nursing administration.

As important as the nursing coursework of a nurse administrator degree program is, most nurse administrators have very little direct interaction with patients, the Houston Chronicle reported. Instead, their day-to-day work is more closely related to managing the services, staffing, training and budgets of the clinical programs they oversee. That means prospective nurse administrators need more than nursing courses to succeed at this role.

Business Classes

Nursing administration is essentially a business management role rather than a clinical healthcare role. In fact, the American Organization of Nurse Executives identifies business skills as one of the core competencies all nursing administrators should develop. They also need to develop:

  • leadership skills
  • professionalism
  • communication skills
  • knowledge of the healthcare environment

Developing these varied competencies requires a well-rounded education, but many of these competencies are closely related with business. That’s why a number of nurse administration programs include  valuable business topics like:

  • financial management
  • organizational and systems leadership
  • strategic planning, conflict management
  • ethical decision-making
  • quality performance
  • leadership strategies

Perhaps the best business examples of classes for aspiring nurse administrators are those that blend business principles with nursing perspectives. In your nurse administration degree program, you may study subjects such as:

  • Health care finance
  • Financial management for nurses
  • Nursing administration in complex organizations
  • Health economics and policy
  • Management of health care resources
  • Structure and design of nursing services
  • Managing health care personnel
  • Health care law and human resources
  • Administrative management in nursing
  • Leadership theories in nursing practice

Every nurse administration degree program has different expectations. However, most programs will include some combination of business and health care courses in the curriculum. Due to the varied nature of a nurse administrator’s job duties, it’s essential that students study such a variety of subjects in a nurse administration degree program.

Related Resources:

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris