The Role of Nurse Administrators in Improving Healthcare Quality

Nurse administrators are vital to the functioning of hospitals and other clinical settings. Considered the “middle-managers [of] healthcare organizations,” nurse administrators perform various duties that enrich the quality of patient care and nurses’ work environments, says an April 2021 study in the journal BMC Health Services Research.

This type of leadership is an excellent avenue for nurses interested in moving away from the bedside yet still directly impacting patient care and outcomes. BSN-prepared nurses can pursue these positions after completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Administration program. With coursework covering informatics, financial management and organizational behavior, an advanced MSN program can help nurses discover the latest knowledge and strategies for effective leadership.

What Are the Primary Job Duties for Nurse Administrators?

To understand how nurse administrators affect the care cycle, an overview of their primary job duties is helpful. Nurse administrators:

  • Hire and supervise staff
  • Terminate employees
  • Create employee schedules to ensure sufficient coverage and ratios
  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Attend management meetings
  • Represent and advocate on behalf of their employees
  • Address complaints from employees and patients
  • Coordinate continuing education for nursing staff
  • Establish and adhere to a departmental budget
  • Plan and head business decisions, like service offerings and patient outreach
  • Conduct staff meetings
  • Write staff performance reviews
  • Maintain employee records

What Impact Do Nurse Administrators Have on Workplace Culture?

Nurse administrators have a tremendous influence on workplace culture, and ultimately, the quality of patient care. Fostering an inclusive environment with a safety focus is perhaps their most significant contribution. The ideal culture treats employees with fairness and respect. It provides clear expectations for staff, including delineating the difference between safe and unsafe behaviors.

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), nurse leaders are responsible for transforming their culture from “a silent, hierarchical structure of blame to an open, team-oriented culture.” These changes will take time, though there are several ways to encourage the transition. For example, the AHA recommends that nurse administrators “recognize and reward reporting of errors and near misses.” They must also value transparency and utilize shared leadership strategies, where each nurse’s actions contribute to the quality of patient care and outcomes.

Nurse leaders generally function most effectively when their daily duties align with organizational goals. As part of the management team, administrators define business goals and develop policies that incentivize staff. According to the BMC study, nursing practices evolve and strengthen when “employees feel supported, motivated and secure.”

How Do Nurse Administrators Influence the Quality of Patient Care?

Happy and engaged nurses deliver higher quality care. A supportive workplace culture that values communication and safety “improves patient care by providing a framework for identifying safety issues while holding people accountable for following the evidence-based protocols and standards that have been shown to improve quality of care,” says the AHA.

Nurse administrators can deepen engagement with patients and families and increase their satisfaction by encouraging them to participate in care decisions and express any concerns or questions. Moreover, the policies administrators develop and promote — such as adequate nurse-to-patient ratios, staff communication styles or educational initiatives — have immediate impacts on the quality of care.

As noted in the BMC study, there is a positive correlation between a nurse manager’s commitment to communication and patient satisfaction. Similarly, patients express greater satisfaction with their care outcomes when nurses are satisfied with management’s leadership behavior.

The actions and behaviors of nurse administrators not only affect healthcare quality but also the satisfaction of employees and patients. Nurse administrators can create open, safety-focused workplace environments as well as policies and goals that improve outcomes and employee well-being.

Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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