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How Do I Become a Nursing Home Administrator?

A nursing home administrator is responsible for managing nursing home programs and ensuring good care is given to the residents.
Nursing home administrators need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with geriatric patients and their caregivers.
An elderly lady in a nursing home.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2014
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There are three items required to become a nursing home administrator: post-secondary education, related work experience, and a license. A nursing home administrator is the highest-ranking non-medical officer in a nursing home. A nursing home is a residential home for individuals, usually senior citizens, who need support with daily activities and are unable to remain in their homes.

The nursing home administrator is responsible for the standard of care, admissions, and program management within the nursing home. Most administrators have prior training or work experience in the health care sector. His or her role is critical to the administration and organization of the nursing facility. This type of position combines business and management skills with nursing and palliative care services. The appropriate balance of both quality of care and financial targets is the administrator's primary responsibility.

The most efficient way to become a nursing home administrator is to obtain a combination of education and work experience in a nursing home setting. Almost all employers will require post-secondary education in management, business, or a related field. Some schools offer courses or certificates in nursing home administration, but very few degrees are offered in this specialty.

The type of experience required for the job is a combination of business management and health care industry, and there are specific terms, needs, and requirements that are unique to this field. Management experience can be gained in a hotel, residential facility, or in the service industry.

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In the US, many states require all nursing home administrators to obtain a state license to operate a nursing home. The license requirements typically include post-secondary education, experience, and completion of a written examination. Nursing homes are subject to government regulations and inspections to ensure a minimal level of care and support is provided to clients.

Work as a nursing home administrator is most rewarding for people who are detail oriented, enjoy problem solving, and are naturally outgoing. The ability to interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences is important to be successful in this role. Team building, empathy, patience, and innovation can be integrated into the work environment to create a rewarding career that provides both professional and personal satisfaction for all staff.

Increasingly, nursing home administrators play a role in government policy development surrounding standards of care, delivery of health services, meeting the needs of the senior community and the importance of community level programs. There is widespread agreement that it is in the best interest of the client and the government to keep the senior citizen in his or her home and community as long as possible. Many people who become nursing home administrators take on advocacy roles to lobby for increased home support services.

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Discuss this Article

jmc88
Post 9

@indemnifyme - You're right. A lot of people automatically think of nursing homes as a prison where children send their parents to get rid of them. I don't think that's normally the case at all.

People in nursing homes are usually there because they can no longer take care of themselves. My grandfather just went to a nursing home last year, because he broke his hip, and the family could no longer give him all the attention he needed.

He loves where he is at now, though. Nursing homes do a good job of setting up activities and keeping the residents stimulated so they don't get bored living there.

kentuckycat
Post 8

@titans62 - I think you can also draw some similarities between being a nurse in a nursing home and hospital. Having several family members in medical fields, I've seen about all sides of nursing. Once you become a higher level nurse like an RN or nurse practitioner, your job becomes a lot more about paperwork and less about interacting with people all the time.

One of my aunts is actually the director of nursing at a home, and she still gets to talk to residents, but she rarely interacts with them like she used to. Instead, she has to worry about making schedules, filing reports, and processing new residents. That's just something to consider when you make your career choice.

JimmyT
Post 7

@titans62 - My mother is actually an RN at a nursing home, and she really enjoys it. The direction you want to go in nursing really just depends on your personality. If you really like a fast-paced work environment, you might be more suited to work in a hospital. The benefit to working in a nursing home is that things are a bit more relaxed, and you get to interact more with the residents.

As far as becoming an administrator, my mom says it would be a pretty demanding job, and it's not something she is interested in doing. As the article points out, administrators spend less of their time dealing with residents and more time dealing with politics. For some people that's great, but it's not for everyone.

If you're really interested, I would recommend trying to find a part time job at a nursing home while you are in college or see if you could do an internship to see if you enjoy it.

titans62
Post 6

I am in high school now and have always thought that I would like being a nurse. Working at a nursing home is something I had never thought of.

What sorts of degrees do nursing home staff usually have? I was planning to just try to become a registered nurse. I think career advancement is important, though, so I would be interested in possibly becoming a nursing home administrator some time in the future if I choose that path. I am just curious how difficult it is and whether it is a good job.

indemnifyme
Post 5

@Monika - I agree with you. I don't think that just anyone who wants to know how to become a nursing home administrator should actually be able to become one. You should have the right experience, and go through licensing to make sure you're actually qualified.

My grandmother is getting older, and I think in the next few years we're going to have to find a nursing home for her. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that whatever home we find for her will be run by someone who is actually qualified to do so.

Monika
Post 4

I'm really relieved that you need a state license if you want to run a nursing home. The elderly are definitely an "at-risk" population as far as abuse, so I think people running nursing homes should definitely have to go through strict licensing procedures.

dautsun
Post 3

@eidetic - That's really interesting. I think when most people think, "Why become a nurse?" they don't consider it a stepping stone to a career in nursing home administration. But it sounds like it can be!

I think this makes a lot of sense though. I mean, how can you run a nursing home or other health care facility if you don't have a least a little bit of experience actually working in the healthcare field?

I think you would definitely learn things about running a nursing home by working as a nurse that you would never learn otherwise, even if you went to school for it.

eidetic
Post 2

A friend of mine was looking into becoming a nursing home administrator. Her husband's family runs a few nursing homes, so she was looking to join the family business. Her mother-in-law wants her to become a registered nurse, work for a few years, and then go back to school for a masters in nursing home administration.

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