Nurse Manager, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Executive


In spite of the fact that roles of a nurse administrator, a nurse executive, and a nurse manager are discussed as administrative in their nature, nurses need to develop different competencies and skills in order to succeed in performing associated tasks. On the one hand, ‘nurse administrator’ is a term that is used to cover responsibilities typical for nurse executives and nurse managers (Greenwood, 2015, para. 1). On the other hand, the roles of a nurse administrator and a nurse executive can be different depending on the organization (American Nurses Credentialing Center, 2015). Therefore, it is important to compare and contrast these roles of nursing professionals in order to determine specific competencies typical for a nurse administrator, a nurse executive, and a nurse manager.

Nurse Manager

A nurse manager is an advanced nursing position, according to which a nurse should demonstrate her leadership skills while managing the staff within the concrete facility or unit. Although nurse managers need to demonstrate developed communication and management skills as any other nurse leaders, they are also usually responsible for performing their direct nursing tasks. According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, nurse managers are leaders who formulate guidelines and policies for nurses working in concrete facilities, coordinate the nurses’ activities, and who monitor the quality of nurses’ work and care (American Nurses Credentialing Center, 2015). Thus, nurse managers need to demonstrate developed competencies in staffing and scheduling, coordination, monitoring, performance evaluation, training, and employee retention.

Nurse Administrator

The term ‘nurse administrator’ can be used to cover all nursing roles requiring a demonstration of administrative skills. However, if the role of a nurse administrator is specified as a position, this nurse needs to have developed communication, leadership, management, and business skills and competencies. In contrast to a nurse manager, nurse administrators are responsible for coordinating the work of several departments (Greenwood, 2015, para. 3). Therefore, the main focus of a nurse administrator is on the organization of human resources, planning of the staff mix, setting goals, formulation of performance standards, and budget decisions.

Nurse Executive

In spite of the fact that the term ‘nurse executive’ is often interchanged with the term ‘nurse administrator’, and the competencies for these roles are similar, positions of nurse executives are common for large organizations or clinic chains. Nurse executives demonstrate advanced skills in strategic planning, leadership, setting goals, determining directions, as well as in problem-solving (American Organization of Nurse Executive competencies, 2015, p. 3). Nurse managers usually report on their activities to nurse executives. It is expected that the business skills of these administrators will be as developed as their skills in strategic and project management. The reason is that nurse executives develop strategies for organizing the work in facilities and departments. They implement human resource projects and make decisions regarding human resource issues. Furthermore, nurse executives as nurse administrators need to demonstrate developed skills in terms of financial planning and marketing.


It is possible to state that all discussed roles are administrative, and nurses need to be leaders with advanced managerial skills to perform these roles effectively. However, in spite of obvious similarities in performed tasks and duties, the roles of nursing leaders differ significantly. The main differences are associated with the size of the organizational unit where nurses need to perform as leaders and with the particular responsibilities and duties.


American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2015). The outline of competencies for nurse managers. Web.

American Organization of Nurse Executive competencies. (2015). Web.

Greenwood, B. (2015). Difference between a nurse administrator vs. nurse manager. Web.