nurse in icu lab

Six Nurse Leadership Opportunities for Master of Science in Nursing Graduates

Nursing: Leadership, Education & Informatics

Those with a Master of Science in Nursing degree possess advanced education and leadership skills required to access opportunities that can increase career responsibilities, boost salaries and provide challenging leadership opportunities. With such a pressing demand for nurses—the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent growth between 2014 and 2024—nursing professionals currently working in the field will need to develop the leadership skills required to manage a large influx of inexperienced registered nurses. In this article, we’ll take a look at six roles Master of Science in Nursing graduates have available to them and outline the duties of each, including nursing supervisor, risk manager/corporate compliance officer, certified nurse legal consultant, chief quality officer, nursing information specialist and nurse educator.

Nursing Supervisor

Nursing supervisors’ duties include coordinating nursing and training programs; assisting with solving professional, administrative and supervisory problems; and ensuring the adequacy of nursing services for patients. This position requires nurses to exercise considerable judgment in applying professional knowledge to problems within the established policies and practices of a facility, such as maintaining adequate staffing for each shift. A nursing supervisor might lead orientation and training, schedule shifts, coordinate patient care and report to administrators and nurse managers, among other duties. Nursing supervisors command salaries of as much as $83,000 per year and must display leadership qualities such as steadfast ethical conduct, thoroughness, credibility, client focus and effective time management skills. Their responsibility to oversee other nurses requires them to develop a distinct leadership style that is informed by a broad vision for a common goal; a nurse supervisor with strong leadership skills will be able to see the big picture and use both vision and an appropriate attitude to lead his or her team to success.

Risk Manager/Corporate Compliance Officer

A nursing risk manager or corporate compliance officer is one of the most demanding and lucrative leadership positions in nursing, encompassing myriad duties and commanding a salary of nearly $100,000 per year. The main responsibilities of a corporate compliance officer and risk manager in nursing and health care pertain to preventing illegal, unethical or improper conduct. A nursing risk manager generally answers to the facility’s chief executive officer (CEO) and governing board, monitoring and then reporting the medical facility’s compliance results and ethics efforts. The nursing risk manager also advises senior management on how to better comply with laws and regulations. A risk manager demonstrates leadership by taking the initiative to develop, initiate, maintain and revise company policy and procedure manuals (PPM); demonstrates teamwork and flexibility by collaborating with other departments to ensure legal and ethical compliance; responds to alleged violations of regulations and policies and develops a system for rectifying those violations; demonstrates attention to detail and observation skills by identifying potential compliance weaknesses and risks, and implements corrective actions; and organizes compliance training for new and current employees.

Certified Nurse Legal Consultant

Legal nurse consultants analyze testimony and facts to draw conclusions about the nature and cause of injuries across a wide variety of practice and care settings, acting as a liaison between the legal and healthcare fields. A legal nurse consultant often leads a qualified team to help facilitate the initial phase of research, with additional duties and responsibilities including identifying, contacting and interviewing clients; analyzing patient medical records; researching medical literature; drafting medical-legal documents; evaluating injury causations; educating attorneys and other professionals on relevant medical issues; serving as an expert witness; locating and preparing evidence for trials; and assisting with preparation and support of medical information during trials and depositions. Nurse legal consultants average about $87,000 per year and often practice in law firms, government agencies, forensic environments, consulting firms, insurance companies, independent practices and health maintenance organizations, among others.

Chief Quality Officer

The role of chief quality officer (CQO) was formally established in the late 1990s and is similar to the corporate compliance officer role in that they are also responsible for planning, administering and monitoring service quality, regulatory requirements and quality improvement processes. However, the primary difference is that the CQO is not only a member of the senior management team, but also directly responsible for an entire facility’s overall quality of service. While corporate compliance officers will help to gather and report compliance and care results for a facility, a CQO is responsible for gathering up those results and data to help develop new compliance and care strategies, ensuring not only that the facility will remain in compliance in the future, but that the facility is also choosing to focus more so on value-based care over volume-based care. As hospitals across the nation begin to transition to value-based care—a model that stresses quality and custom care plans for patients over generalized treatments administered as quickly as possible—it’s up to CQOs to work with compliance officers to make sure that a given facility’s level of care doesn’t suffer during the transitional phase. Additionally, the CQO oversees and coordinates nursing department efforts to maintain compliance with federal, state and local regulatory requirements. As a management team member, the CQO develops comprehensive performance improvement programs and works with company leadership and staff to implement them. CQOs must exhibit outstanding interpersonal and communication skills, both written and verbal. They must have in-depth knowledge of clinical reporting requirements; federal and state guidelines, regulations and standards; and current statistics and quality assessment software. Qualified nursing CQOs work in a variety of health care environments and can command salaries of as much as $150,000 per year.

Nursing Information Specialist

As technology has changed, so has the nursing field. Nursing information specialists are a relatively new addition to the industry, as the role has become necessary to assist health care providers in transitioning to electronic medical and health records. Federal mandates dictate how these new record formats must be gathered and stored, so nurses who have an interest in technology and data analytics may want to consider transitioning to this specialty. Nursing information specialists are responsible for organizing and performing initial and ongoing training, as well as competency validation and maintenance for all information systems. They use evidence-based clinical practices to develop the infrastructure of company information systems in order to best support staff in troubleshooting, upgrades and training. As active members of the nursing staff, information specialists educate other nurses on how to use clinical informatics systems and provide point-of-care decision support in everyday nursing practice. Because nursing information specialists play such an important role and must be skilled administrators, leaders and managers, they can command salaries of about $100,000 per year. To effectively lead in this position, nursing information specialists must have strong observation skills, demonstrate attention to detail, and possess the ability to patiently train others.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are faculty members at colleges, universities, vocational and technical schools, and hospital-based education programs. These individuals ensure that the future nurses they teach are prepared to enter the constantly changing health care environment. Nurse educators design and implement programs that comply with federal and state regulations regarding nursing instruction. Besides creating and teaching the courses, they also analyze the effectiveness of these educational programs and update and revise them as necessary, for both pre-licensing and continuing education requirements. Nurse educators must have excellent communications skills when providing instruction in classrooms and must be adept at organizing and preparing reports, setting priorities and resolving a conflict. Nurse educators supervise students who are learning basic nursing tasks, but they also work in clinical settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, where they’re responsible for overseeing nurses and nursing students who are putting their skills to use in real-life clinical situations. They also often work in academia, performing research and presenting their findings at conferences. They may operate as peer reviewers, write grant proposals or work in direct patient care settings.

The healthcare industry is currently undergoing a seismic shift in overall care delivery. From adapting to rapidly changing technology to facing a shortage in nurses, leadership positions are vital in addressing these pressing issues. These challenges in healthcare present leaders with the opportunity to shape and inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals, as well as make a lasting impact on healthcare delivery and procedures. The six advanced nursing specialties detailed in this article require additional, specialized education, which students can receive in Norwich University’s 18-month Master of Science in Nursing program—accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Norwich’s nursing program was designed to meet the needs of employers looking to expand their nursing specialist staffing levels by providing nursing students with the necessary training, information and experience through a mix of online courses and hands-on experience. A graduate degree from Norwich can help nurses further their roles in nursing education, healthcare systems leadership, or nursing informatics, and successful graduates have myriad options in a variety of health care organizations.

Learn More

Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program helps students hone their knowledge and skills to assume positions in nursing informatics, healthcare systems leadership or nursing education. The program aims to develop students who could take a role in shaping health policy, in educating other nurses and healthcare professionals, and in providing advanced care to their patients. Norwich’s online nursing program coursework has been developed based on guidelines by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Recommended Readings:
A Career Overview of the Nursing Informatics Specialist
5 Nursing Theories for Nurse Educators
The Future of Nursing


Registered Nurses, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Roles of a Supervisor in Primary Nursing?, Houston Chronicle

Nursing Leadership - Management & Leadership Styles, American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination

Corporate Compliance Officer, Health Care, Society For Human Resource Management

What is an LNC?, American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants

Legal Nurse Consultant Salaries, Glassdoor

Is The CQO Position Needed?, HealthLeaders Media

Homepage, American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Nurse Educator Vs. Nurse Management Position, Houston Chronicle