What does it take to become the CNO?

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    I think a career path leading to being the chief nursing officer would suit my personality and would love to eventually peak in my career running the nursing side of an entire hospital. I have my MSN and a decade's worth of experience starting my own businesses, both medical and non-medical. Three out of the 4 I started I still profit from today. I can do sales, contract negotiation, networking, payroll, staffing, design and implement programs, marketing strategy, budget, manage people, hire/fire people, write protocols and policy, develop new streams of income, comply with osha and city/state requirements, the list goes on... I've done everything in my various businesses from cleaning the toilets to providing medical care...

    But, I don't have any hospital related management experience and I have never managed medical professionals. I do not have any business related degrees.

    I'm thinking of doing a post masters in health care administration but am not sure this is the right route to take? Will I be marketable with a post masters certificate? I saw that the american nurses credentialing center offers a "nurse executive" certification which I would be able to get with the health care admin certificate. Or should I get an MBA instead?
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  4. 9 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    Do you have any nursing experience? I read over your post a few times and don't see anything about nursing in there ...
  6. 0
    I've never known a CNO who hadn't risen through the ranks somewhat -- getting experience in the nursing management of a unit ... then division ... etc. before becoming CNO.

    What is the focus of your MSN? What nursing experience do you have? What experience with hospitals do you have? Do you have any hospital experience? I can't imagine anyone being hired as a hospital CNO who didn't have any previous hospital experience regardless of their formal education. With an MBA or a Master's in Health Services Administration, you might be able to get a job in Hospital Administration ... but to get a Nursing Administration, you would need to show expertise in hospital nursing management.
  7. 0
    Yeah, I've been an LPN, RN and now ARNP started in 1994 so I do have nursing experience, but very little of it was in a hospital/floor nurse, maybe 2-3 years. I am currently a family ARNP. I've been applying to some management jobs and some regular nursing positions in hospitals, no luck yet.

    I'm just trying to figure out the best way to start the path to eventual CNO so I can combine my nursing skills with my business skills. Education and job wise I'm not sure which way to go at this point.

    Well, I guess job wise I will take any job because the market is horrific and beggers can't be choosers, lol. Education wise I'm not sure if I should start MBA, get the post masters certificate in health systems admin/nursing admin, or something else..?
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    It sounds to me like your best bet would be to take a staff nurse position. This may seem like a step back since you have been practising as an ARNP, but I work with many staff nurses who have their masters. Its all in doing what you love. Once you are a staff nurse on a floor you can apply for an assistant management position. This will give you an idea if you really will love managing nurses, or being a manager in a hospital- which is vastly different that managing your own business.

    You do not have to have a masters in business administration but to me it sounds like a degree that will help you understand your role better as a CNO. However, before you spend all the money to pursue a degree I'd make sure that working in for a hospital or hospital corporation is something you want to do. I am currently a staff nurse and have done the assistant management thing in the past. I stepped down from that role becaue I realized I needed a degree and that working on my degree would be easier if I was in a staff nurse role.
    outcomesfirst likes this.
  9. 0
    Consider strongly a MSN with a major in leadership. CNO roles are now being redefined. Magnet now requires DONs/CNOs to hold a masters in nursing. MBAs came up in the 80s-90s, when hospitals became profit driven - yes a MSN will get you what you need to understand enough about business tools capital/direct/indirect, but for the most part every hospital now has sophisticated accounting departments to do this level of work, not to mention COOs and CFOs - hospitals need innovative leaders, particulary for nursing (which at this level incorporates all patient care areas...) Also, you want to set yourself up to expand as our health care system evolves. Good Luck!
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    Go back into the hospital system and try to get a supervisor job or a manager job. If you can't get that then perhaps work as a bedside nurse and then apply to any appropriate leadership positions as they open. It's always good to understand what the staff nurses do at your facility you will be a better leader for it. At the same time you probably should go back for your MSN in administration, not a MBA.
  11. 0
    Hi,
    You have a few components, but remember, there are only a handful of these jobs out there, and most CNOs relocate for the job.

    Having said that, having your MSN is a great start. However, not working in acute care is a big problem. Try to get a job as a Nurse Manager, or at least Assistant in a large hospital. Get on as many committees as you can and learn as much as you can.

    Do that for 5 years, and/or try to move up to a director position (in charge of a division ie: MS or CC) during those 5 years. After 5 years as a NM in acute care, look into getting certified in Nursing Administration. This is going to be essential.

    Once you have your certification, years of hospital mgmt experience, and your MSN, you can begin to contact headhunters, who will find these rare, elite, but very demanding positions.

    It is possible, but you are on the wrong path at the moment.

    All the best.
  12. 0
    Thanks for the advice. I've been interviewing for administrative/management positions outside of the hospital setting (home health, agencies, health ins companies) but no offers as of yet. I am finding that they want the MSN plus either experience as a manager or the healthcare administration degree. So, I'm considering doing a post graduate certificate to increase my chances of landing that first job. Then I guess I'll go from there. Perhaps the hospital management position is out of the question as I'm just gettin too old...lol.
  13. 0
    Hey I've got 13 years on you and I'm still out there working it.


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