Nursing home administrator career spotlight

Start a Fulfilling Career as a Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing homes provide care and support for elderly, handicapped, or disabled individuals who cannot care for themselves at home. Some are government-run and -funded facilities, while others are privately owned. Regardless of how they're run, however, all nursing homes need administrators to manage the facility and to direct staff. A nursing home administrator serves as the point of contact for the venue, making critical decisions and managing the budget.

Some nursing home administrators work in facilities with other names, such as senior homes, retirement communities, and assisted living facilities. Each of these venues provides a different level of care to residents, but professionals in the administration position serve similar roles. A nursing home typically provides more care to residents, including those who are unable to move or speak on their own.

But what is a nursing home administrator? And how can you prepare for this career?

What can you expect from a nursing home administrator job?

Understanding the nursing home administrator job description will help you decide if this is the best career choice for you. You might wonder, "What does a nursing home administrator do?" Following are a few of the roles they assume during the work day.

Responsibilities

  • Hiring, training, and firing nursing home staff members, from clinical workers to administrative personnel.
  • Conducting performance reviews on employees to determine effectiveness and work ethic.
  • Meeting with prospective residents to tour the facility and to learn about the services provided.
  • Communicating with residents and prospective residents as well as their families.
  • Working with clinical staff to create a plan of care for each resident and to oversee residents' progress and condition.
  • Advocating for residents so they receive the standard of care they deserve.
  • Instituting policies, rules, and procedures for the facility to protect everyone involved and to comply with governmental regulations.
  • Establishing a practical budget for the facility and allocating funds to specific departments or expenses as needed.
  • Overseeing the billing of residents for services rendered.
  • Managing janitorial and support staff to ensure the facility remains clean and well-run.
  • Leading teams in the nursing home to ensure all staff members meet goals and fulfill residents' expectations.
  • Deciding when to send residents to other health care facilities, such as hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
  • Overseeing the transportation of residents to other facilities or locations.
  • Serving as an agent of change to ensure the nursing home evolves with the times.
  • Upgrading equipment and technology in the facility to reflect the changing needs of its residents.
  • Making presentations to the nursing home's board of directors or other executive team.
  • Brainstorming solutions for financial or practical problems that arise during the facility's operation.
  • Providing regular safety training for all personnel.
  • Helping families cope with their loved one's condition and progress.
  • Coordinating visits from other health care professionals, such as physicians and occupational therapists.
  • Scheduling social or physical activities for residents based on their abilities.

Work environment

As part of a facility's management team, a nursing home administrator works in an office setting, though he or she might also move to other parts of the facility when needed. Since an administrator has to oversee and fill out significant amounts of paperwork, he or she might spend the majority of the day sitting down behind a desk.

They can sometimes endure high stress levels depending on the working conditions. For instance, some days might involve numerous patient transfers and other events that require coordination. Consequently, administrators must know how to manage stress effectively and how to stay calm during stressful situations.

Since nursing home administrators often have clinical experience, they might have to assume clinical roles throughout the day. For instance, if an aid or nurse calls in sick, the administrator can pick up the slack. Patient care remains a top priority in any facility, so administrators must prioritize patient care over administrative duties.

Schedule

Though most nursing home administrators work typical business hours, many positions require overtime to ensure that all of the administrator's obligations have been fulfilled. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 33 percent of professionals in medical management work more than 40 hours per week. Since nursing homes remain in operation 24 hours per day, administrators might have to come to work in the evenings and on weekends.

This is especially true during an emergency situation. Administrators have to advocate for their patients and residents to ensure they receive the highest level of patient care. If a family member of a resident voices a concern, he or she often talks directly with the administrator to resolve the problem. After-hours issues can extend the work day, so administrators have to be prepared for this.

What qualifications are required to become a nursing home administrator?

Nursing home administrators have two separate skill sets — clinical and managerial — so they must develop their educational and experiential backgrounds to reflect both areas.

Education

Nursing home administrators can follow varied paths to their careers. For instance, some obtain their Master's degrees in health care administration or related areas of the study, which prepares them for the managerial aspects of this job. However, according to the BLS, most nursing home administrators serve as registered nurses (RNs) for several years before they pursue administrative positions.

An RN must complete an appropriate program to obtain a license. They typically get their associate's or bachelor's degrees in nursing, which can take three or four years of schooling. They must then pass a state-administered exam to receive their nursing licenses.

Getting both a master's degree in health care administration and an RN degree can help fuel your career trajectory toward an administrative position. For instance, many RNs go back to school to get their master's degrees so they can expand their employment options and salary potential.

Experience

Nursing home administrators need several years of clinical experience so they can manage clinical professionals well. In fact, 36 percent of nursing home administrators have 21 or more years of experience under their belts. They might work in clerical roles, as well, or serve as administrators in other health care venues, such as assisted living facilities or rehabilitation centers.

There is no set amount of experience you'll need to land a job in this field. However, increased experience will give your resume more weight and improve your chances of getting the position.

Skills

You'll need the following skills to excel as a nursing home administrator:

  • Personnel management - You'll be responsible for hiring, training, and managing all of the staff members at your facility.
  • Organization - Nursing homes can prove busy and chaotic, so you must have excellent organizational skills.
  • Communication - All administrators have to communicate effectively with residents and their families as well as nursing home staff and outside medical professionals.
  • Technology - Many nursing homes use electronic health records systems and similar technology, so you'll need to know how to use them properly.
  • Analysis - Knowing how to analyze a situation or problem and to find a workable solution will serve you well in this career.
  • Leadership - You must set an example for your employees and create a safe environment for personnel and residents.

Salary expectations

How much do nursing home administrators make? It depends on their experience and the size of the facility. The average national salary for this position is $75,000. Administrators in Sacramento, California, draw the highest average pay at $135,933 per year, while those in Los Angeles earn about $108,750 annually. Other cities with excellent salary potential include Houston, Texas, and Miami, Florida.

For more info on what you can expect to make as a nursing home administrator, check out these insights.

Job outlook for nursing home administrators

Projected growth

The BLS suggests that nursing home administrator careers will grow much faster than the average across all industries and occupations. Job availability will increase by 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, which means that these professionals will have plenty of opportunities to find work over the next decade. As the baby boomer generation gets older, more people will need beds in nursing homes, which will require communities to build new facilities to accommodate them.

Additionally, many people do not become nursing home administrators until later in their careers because of the increased emphasis on experience. Consequently, the turnover is higher than in other positions as administrators age and retire. This creates new job opportunities for younger professionals who have obtained the necessary experience and education.

Career trajectory

If you're thinking about becoming a nursing home administrator, plan your educational goals and work experience accordingly. Consider obtaining your RN credentials and working in this position at a hospital, nursing home, or similar facility. You might pursue your master's degree while you work so you have the administrative credentials to move up.

After you've worked as a nursing home administrator, you might find ways to move up in your career by joining the board of directors or becoming an executive.

Nursing home administrators serve an important role in the lives of the residents in their facilities. They can create safe, supportive environments for both patients and staff so that everyone remains fulfilled. If you're thinking about getting a job as a nursing home administrator, start searching for new job openings today.