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Nursing school offering new master’s in nursing leadership

UB nursing students

The new MS program in nursing leadership will educate baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses for middle- and upper-level management positions in a variety of health care systems and settings. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

By SARA R. SALDI

Published March 28, 2013

“As a leader in nursing education, the school has taken up the challenge to provide a program of study to meet the needs of a complex and ever-changing health care environment.”
Marsha Lewis, Dean, School of Nursing

The School of Nursing has received approval from New York State to offer a master’s degree in nursing leadership in health care systems, beginning this summer.

The new MS program educates baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses for middle- and upper-level management positions in a variety of health care systems and settings. It can be taken full time, which would allow completion in one year (four semesters), including summers, or part time.

The leadership program of study will partner with UB’s schools of Management and Public Health and Health Professions, according to Janice Jones, clinical professor and program coordinator.

Jones says the program is accepting applications until April 22, with classes starting during the first summer session. The program will start only in the summer and plans to admit at least 10 students in its first cohort.

Why is the nursing school offering a master’s degree in nursing leadership when the BSN degree previously has served as the foundation for a management track in nursing?

School of Nursing Dean Marsha Lewis meets regularly with area chief nursing officers and nurse educators to discuss issues that affect health care and nursing education in the community. The group suggested that UB offer an MS in nursing leadership in an effort to better equip nurse managers to keep pace with the challenges facing health care leaders today.  

“Our community partners identified the need for a program designed specifically to educate baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses to assume leadership and executive roles,” Lewis explains. “Today’s health care settings require nurse managers to take on expanding roles in management to promote innovative change and quality outcomes. As a leader in nursing education, the school has taken up the challenge to provide a program of study to meet the needs of a complex and ever-changing health care environment.”

Jones adds that patient care and management of nursing staff have become more demanding, requiring advanced education.

“The acuity of hospitalized patients has changed dramatically. Those patients who previously were in intensive care can now be found on general medical-surgical nursing units,” she says.

“In addition to supervising the staff who care for these seriously ill patients, the nurse manager (usually known as the head nurse) is not only responsible for the unit’s budget and staffing, but also areas such as quality issues, patient satisfaction, nursing research and evidence-based practice utilization, and promoting what we call healthy work environments that promote nurses’ job satisfaction, resulting in job retention and better patient outcomes.”

To address the needs of each student, the clinical practicum will be individually designed to apply the evidence-based leadership and management concepts according to each student’s career objectives, Jones says.

These specific career goals will be addressed in the N 640 practicum—a six-credit (300 hours) course that will help the candidates develop managerial and leadership skills specific to their purposes and to the strategic outcomes of the organizations and health care facilities the students represent.

One feature of the curriculum is having local administrators take part.

“We have a local chapter of the American Organization of Nurse Executives,” says Jones, “and our students will be encouraged to join this organization. Several members from the organization have already volunteered to act as mentors on an as-needed basis.”

Upon completion of the program and after several years of active administrative experience requirements are met, student will be eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) certification in nursing administration.

Jones says that potential employment opportunities for graduates of the program include nurse or unit manager, director or vice president of nursing, project director, academic faculty, staff development, quality specialists and patient safety officers.