Many hospitals have found themselves in a predicament where they have too many managers/directors with low span of control (#FTEs). Healthcare reform has made us all tighten our belts (for the good or bad...that can be debated on another thread). Many hospitals have opted to combine some of those management responsibilities especially as we move towards more shared governance and nurses being "professional". This avoids layoffs of other clinical and ancillary staff that do not make as much.
The idea of nursing management being a good career choice depends on the person and the organization. I started out at a smaller organization where I wore a lot of hats...managers were being combined in areas that were not ideal (Peds/PICU and General MSICU). I would say in that organization that they were facing a lot of challenges and I didn't really want to advance my career there. I am now at a large university hospital and couldn't love my job more. The staff here is so autonomous, they literally make my job easy. I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule as far as coming and going. I rarely work more than 40-45 hours per week. The trade off? You are responsible for the department 24/7. You may get paged at 0300 and have to make a tough choice. You may have to work in staffing for a few hours to cover lunches or call ins...doesn't sound like a big deal but you are rarely notified in advance and you are usually working on something important when you get the call.
I would recommend nursing management/leadership to you if you like responsibility and a flexible schedule. The leadership masters can be used for a variety of positions so if you decide that you do not want to be in management it will definitely be a plus to your resume when exploring other options within nursing.
One thing I am doing as a back up is finishing my FNP post masters certificate. That way I will also be a FNP if I decide I want to go down that path. If you go to the same school, it often does not take a lot of courses to complete both. I have to take an additional 6 classes and clinical hours. I went through the University of Southern Indiana online. They have a great program and make it very doable with a busy schedule. Hope this helps.