As healthcare becomes more complex, nursing roles are becoming more specialized and leadership positions more prominent. One managerial position that registered nurses (RNs) may aspire to is chief nursing officer (CNO). CNOs are required to possess an extensive base of knowledge and skills that includes a variety of patient populations ranging from neonatal to geriatric, and from acute care to long-term rehabilitation.
CNOs are generally responsible for supervising nurses and nurse managers, facilitating the design and implementing the delivery of patient care, recommending strategies to improve services, reaching established goals, maintaining satisfactory outcomes and contributing to profitability.
Specific CNO duties and responsibilities can include:
The CNO position requires a broad knowledge of the healthcare system. The CNO typically reports to a facility’s chief executive or operations officer, and is part of the executive team. In general, employers hiring for CNOs require at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, as well as experience in leadership and management positions with increasing responsibility. Minimum qualifications include experience in strategic planning and development, supervising and budgeting. Many employers may also prefer applicants with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
As a member of the senior management team, a CNO must be driven to achieve continuous improvement, have the ability to lead teams of varying size and levels of aptitude, act as a community leader and spokesperson for nursing and possess the necessary leadership skills required of the position.
Important characteristics for prospective CNOs often include a collaborative work style, flexibility, a high degree of organization and the ability to adapt quickly in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment. CNOs generally work long hours, so strong work ethic and dedication are important characteristics as well. Vital skills for this position include business and mathematics, data analysis, communication, creativity, critical thinking and effective problem solving.
Due to the specialized nature of the position, advanced education and skill sets and typical job responsibilities, CNOs typically have high earning potential. According to salary data from O*NET Online, the 2016 median annual wage for a chief nursing officer was approximately $181,210.
Salary potential may also vary depending on location, education and experience, so graduates are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.
With the proper education and experience, it is possible to rise among the ranks of nurses to the chief nursing officer position. This challenging role can provide professional opportunities and rewards, with the potential to greatly impact healthcare and the professionals who provide quality patient care. Consider Villanova’s RN to BSN online program to get started.