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How to Become a Nursing Home Administrator

November 15, 2020  |  Category: Healthcare Administration

A nursing home administrator meets with an older couple.

Nursing homes offer key medical care and support to defined populations of individuals. This includes those who don’t need to be in a hospital but can’t take care of themselves at home, such as older adults (some 85% of nursing home residents are 65-years-old and older) and individuals with disabilities. Between 1.4 and 1.5 million people live in nursing homes, according to U.S. News and World Report, and that number is expected to grow as the population ages.

Nursing homes require a variety of trained staff members, including home health nurses, licensed vocational nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nursing home administrators. Nursing home administrators play a particularly vital role as managers of their facilities.

Individuals who are wondering how to become a nursing home administrator, and are interested in pursuing a career in the field, should consider earning a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

What Does a Nursing Home Administrator Do?

Nursing home administrators work closely with residents (or potential residents) and their families. They communicate with prospective residents, explain the services offered, and describe how clinical staff create healthcare plans according to the needs and expectations of residents. Nursing home administrators also help residents and their families make a smooth transition into the nursing home. They advocate for residents to receive the care and assistance they need, and arrange for doctors or occupational therapists to meet with patients.

Keeping families informed about how residents are being cared for and treated — if they are going through treatment — is essential. Nursing home administrators often have discussions with family members regarding residents who need to be transferred to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or mental health facilities. When it comes to social events, nursing home administrators plan classes and other activities for residents.

Professionals who work in this field should be able to oversee the day-to-day functions of nursing homes and ensure they run smoothly. This involves instituting policies and regulations that protect residents and staff members alike. Administrators are responsible for hiring and training new staff, and meeting with a board of directors or executives regularly.

Nursing home administrators should also be financially savvy, as they are tasked with creating and overseeing the budgets of their facilities. Among their fiscal responsibilities, nursing home administrators manage the processes of paying employees and billing residents.

Steps to Becoming a Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing home administrators share similar skills with other medical and health services managers. They have clinical and managerial experience as well as an educational background in the field. The following steps can help an individual better understand the process of how to become a nursing home administrator.

Education

Many nursing home administrators begin their careers as nurses. They start by earning an associate degree in nursing and becoming licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses. They can also earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and take the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered nurses. Another option is to earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or public health administration. A practice-based curriculum prepares students in healthcare administration programs for the various duties of nursing home administration.

Licensure

After earning a bachelor’s degree in the field, prospective nursing home administrators should complete an Administrator in Training (AIT) program. Most AIT programs take 6-12 months to complete or require 900-1,800 hours of training. Different states have various licensure requirements. They also offer AIT programs through a board chosen by their departments of health.

Experience

Individuals who have worked in administrative or clinical roles in hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, or other medical facilities for several years can be the most competitive job applicants. Employers want to ensure nursing home administrators are skilled in personnel management, decision making, leadership, communication, organization, analytical thinking and technology, among other areas. Prior job experience working with patients, medical experts, and electronic health records (EHRs) is also helpful in becoming a nursing home administrator.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nursing Home Administrators

Individuals who become nursing home administrators usually work 40-hour weeks that may include evenings and weekends, depending on the needs of residents and staff. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places nursing home administrators in the category of medical and health services managers. As of May 2019, professionals in this occupation earned an annual median salary of $100,980. The lowest 10% of nursing home administrators earned an annual salary of $58,820, while the highest 10% earned more than $189,000.

According to the BLS, as of 2020, there are more than 83,000 nursing homes and similar facilities in the private sector, with some 2,500 others funded by state or local governments. Employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 32% between 2019 and 2029, which is eight times the average growth for all occupations.

As baby boomers continue to age, they will require the medical attention of more doctors, home health nurses, and registered nurses. Greater demand will also exist for nursing home administrators, primary care providers, and other professionals who are working in nursing homes or physicians’ offices.

Explore a Career as a Nursing Home Administrator

Working in the healthcare field has many benefits for professionals who are passionate about helping patients and their families. Nursing home administrators are able to combine empathy, compassion, and interpersonal skills with business skills and managerial responsibilities.

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA) from AdventHealth University Online can be the first step for individuals who are interested in becoming nursing home administrators. The program offers courses including Principles of Financial Accounting, Healthcare Strategic Planning and Decision Making, Legal Aspects of Healthcare, Principles of Healthcare Finance, and Patient Care Management.

Discover how earning your degree in healthcare administration can prepare you for a rewarding career as a nursing home administrator.

Recommended Readings

How to Become a Financial Manager in Healthcare

How to Work in Healthcare Marketing

What Do Healthcare Administrators Do?

Sources:

Balance Careers, “What Does a Health Care/Hospital Administrator Do?”

Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care Facilities

Provider Management, Nursing Home Administrator Licensure Requirements by State

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Industries at a Glance: Nursing and Residential Care Facilities

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. News and World Report, “Nursing Home Facts and Statistics”