Job Profile: Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing homes are skilled residential facilities that provide round-the-clock monitoring and assistance to older adults unable to independently care for themselves. Nursing homes hire diverse healthcare staff to appropriately care for live-in elderly patients suffering from severe illnesses, diseases, disabilities, and injuries. At the forefront of the staff stands the nursing home administrator. Nursing home administrators are senior-level health services managers who manage the facility’s everyday operations. Administrators handle many roles in overseeing everything from patient admissions to financial planning and personnel management. Nursing home administrators are specially licensed to stay on top for the latest protocols for safe, effective senior residential care.

Salary

Based on statistics published on Salary.com, the median annual salary for nursing home administrators in the United States is $100,252. This can be equated to an average hourly wage of $48 or mean weekly payout of $1,928. When bonuses, social security, pensions, insurance, and time off is factored into the base salary, nursing home administrators bring home $140,676 on average each year.

Beginning Salary

Nursing home administrators with one to three years of management experience typically land in the bottom tenth percentile of earnings with an annual income of $80,757. However, it’s important to note that senior nursing home administrators with 10 or more years of experience can eventually make a base salary upwards of $123,697 annually.

Key Responsibilities

To maintain optimal care for elderly residents, nursing home administrators hold the significant responsibility of planning, coordinating, and supervising healthcare delivery. Nursing home administrators oversee every aspect of their facilities to ensure that up-to-date federal, state, and local regulations are being met. Administrators act as primary liaisons for residents, families, nurses, healthcare staff, and the general public. Daily duties could include managing insurance billing, creating work schedules, maintaining patient records, supervising admissions, hiring new healthcare professionals, purchasing medical equipment, and directing 24/7 care. Nursing home administrators also attend board meetings to discuss the facility’s capital expenditures, budget review, and operational policies.

Necessary Skills

Being a nursing home administrator will require that you have the leadership skills to handle the daily challenges of running a healthcare delivery system, including emergency situations. Good interpersonal skills are essential for nursing home administrators to communicate with diverse healthcare staff and create patient relationships. Nursing home administrators must possess the analytical skills to evaluate rehabilitative programs and accurately direct budgeting. Decision-making abilities are important for creating new operational policies. Being detail-oriented with solid organizational skills will help nursing home administrators protect patients’ rights. A certain level of computer skills is also mandatory for nursing home administrators of the 21st century to utilize electronic health records.

Degree and Education Requirements

At the minimum, nursing home administrators need to possess a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Most administrators earn an undergraduate major in healthcare administration, long-term care administration, business administration, public administration, public health, or management. Attending a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is strongly recommended. For advancement at larger facilities, nursing home administrators typically need a master’s degree though. Earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or MBA in Healthcare Management would be the perfect fit. Taking extra courses in gerontology, long-term life care, elder abuse, pain management, and aging could also be helpful.

Pros and Cons of the Position

As with other careers, nursing home administration comes with a balance of rewards and challenges that you should know about. On the positive side, nursing home administrators are in high demand, which makes job hunting relatively short for qualified persons. Income is very lucrative with a six-figure average yearly salary and great benefits. Nursing home administrators work in a comfortable, medical office setting without spending much time at the bedside. They’re able to interact daily with different people, thus it’s the right job for extroverts. On the other hand, nursing home administrators usually must invest in a master’s degree, licensing, and regular continuing education. Nursing homes provide 24/7 care, so they may be on call during evenings, weekends, and even holidays. Nursing home administrators deal with tremendous stress to oversee all staffing and business operations in accordance with strict laws.

Getting Started

Having the right experience is key to being promoted as nursing home administrator. While earning your degree, take every opportunity to gain hands-on work experience outside the classroom in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Internships, co-operatives, consulting work, and part-time jobs will add credibility to your resume. Most nursing home administrators will need at least five years of healthcare experience prior to promotion. You’ll likely start as an administrative assistant or assistant administrator. Remember that all states nationwide require nursing home administrators to be properly licensed. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) offers the licensing exams you’ll need to pass. You can also maintain credentials as a Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) with 150 continuing education credits every five years.

Future Outlook

According to the CDC, the United States has an estimated 16,000 long-term nursing care facilities serving over 1.4 million elderly residents. As the country’s large baby boomer population ages and reaches late adulthood, it’s projected that the demand for residential nursing home services will increase dramatically. The BLS reports that the overall employment of health administrators will grow must faster than average by 23 percent through 2022. This is expected to spark around 73,300 new jobs in medical administration. Nursing home administrators will find the best job prospects with a master’s degree and proper certification. Administrative jobs can be found in independent living communities, assisted living facilities, residential care centers, nursing homes, retirement housing, and hospices.

Overall, becoming a nursing home administrator is a special calling for healthcare leaders who strive to provide high-caliber medical care for patients in late adulthood. Nursing home administrators hold an upper-level role and typically only report to a board of directors or county commissioner. These executive administrators are given the tremendous responsibility of seamlessly coordinating the delivery of comforting treatment and fun live-in social activities for elderly patients to enjoy good quality of life. If you make the decision to become a nursing home administrator, you’ll have the rewarding opportunity to positively impact the physical and mental well-being of aging seniors from the boardroom.

Another great resource:

Top 20 Affordable Master’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration