What do nursing home administrators do?
Although specific duties vary from facility to facility, every administrator of every Minnesota nursing home is required by Minnesota Department of Health rules to be the person in immediate charge of the operation and administration of the nursing home s/he serves. Administrators develop long-term strategic plans and day-to-day operational policies and procedures for the operation, management and maintenance of the nursing home. They enforce rules and regulations to ensure quality care and safety of residents and to protect their personal and property rights. They maintain an effective human resources program to train and manage all staff of the facility through subordinate supervisors such as the Director of Nurses, Business Manager, Dietary, Housekeeping, Maintenance and other department heads. They develop and oversee the facility budget and accounting system, market the facility to prospective residents and their families, and maintain effective public relations with the community at large and the health care community in particular.
Who must be licensed as a nursing home administrator?
Anyone who is employed as the administrator of any of the approximately 400 long-term, skilled care facilities in the state, which are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health as nursing homes under the provisions of state law, must be licensed. This includes persons who administer nursing home beds in units attached to hospitals whether or not those persons also serve as hospital administrators.
Many persons who are not the administrators in charge of nursing homes (and therefore are not legally required to be licensed) also choose to obtain and retain a license as a nursing home administrator. These persons typically work at other jobs in long term care—as assistant administrators, as managers in corporate headquarters of organizations that operate nursing homes, as managers of senior housing and assisted living facilities or of home health services, as owners or managers of community-based intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded, or of board and care homes, and as vendors of products or services sold to nursing homes or other long term care facilities. Some employers in these related areas look for nursing home administrator licensure as a short-cut means of identifying qualified persons for their jobs or prefer to have licensed administrators in their employ to be available to accept temporary assignments as administrators while decisions about more permanent staffing are being made.
Where do administrators work and under what conditions?
Administrators work just about anywhere; in large metropolitan or suburban facilities of over 500 residents and hundreds of staff, in small urban or rural facilities of less than 25 residents and approximately the same number of staff, in stand-alone nursing homes or in wings attached to hospitals, on campuses of senior-serving complexes where the nursing home is one of many housing and health alternatives available, for management companies or individual owners with for-profit or not-for-profit charters, for city, county and state-government owned and operated facilities. Regardless of the size or location of the facility administered, each administrator operates under state and generally, also, federal laws and rules in an industry which is heavily regulated to ensure good care to residents through effective management practices.
How much are administrators paid?
Information about pay rates for administrators (categorized under medical and health service managers) obtained in May 2012 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a national wage range from $53,940 to $150,560 annually and a national average in Nursing Care Facilities (SNF) of $82,240. Keep in mind that this data reflects rates paid to all administrators, some whom have many years of experience. Starting salaries will likely be lower. Rates tend to vary between metro and rural facilities and with the size of the facility as well.
What’s the job market like?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life, the healthcare industry as a whole will see an increase in the demand for medical services. This demand will in turn result in an increase in the number of physicians, patients, and procedures, as well as in the number of facilities. Managers will be needed to organize and manage medical information and staffs in the healthcare industry. There will likely be increased demand for nursing care facility administrators as baby boomers age. A newly licensed administrator, who is willing to locate in rural areas, where competition for jobs may not be as keen, and those who are willing to relocate to meet management company needs, tend to have earlier success at locating their first position.
What kind of preparation do I need to become an administrator?
Current Minnesota Rules require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Though there is no requirement that the degree have been earned in any particular field, most frequently persons pursuing licensure have earned degrees in health care areas, social services or business administration. Some persons opt to complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree curriculum designed specifically to prepare them for a career in nursing home administration. Others make a “mid-career shift” to nursing home administration, most often from a career in health care or business administration. Those making a career shift typically concentrate strictly on fulfilling the course requirements.
Some facilities, particularly smaller ones in non-metro areas, are willing to hire new licensees, without previous administrative experience, “fresh out of school.” So are some of the larger management companies that often put their new hires through a company-sponsored administrator-in-training program before placing them in charge of a facility. Some companies or individual facilities hire newly licensed administrators as assistant administrators so they can obtain some experience before taking on the administrator responsibilities. Some of the larger, metro-based facilities expect their administrators to hold or obtain master’s degrees and to have many years of experience.
Yes. Board staff can work from student copies of transcripts to identify which requirements you have completed, and which you have left to finish. Eventually, however, you will need to provide official transcripts, sent directly from your school to the board office, to verify award of your bachelor’s degree and grades for every course you submit to satisfy the licensure requirements.
Minnesota requires all applicants for licensure to pass a 1 hour 20 minute, 34-item, multiple choice open book State exam, This exam tests the candidate's ability to research and interpret Minnesota Statutes and Rules pertaining to operation of a Minnesota nursing home.
Minnesota, like all 50 states and DC, requires applicants to successfully complete the examination developed by the National Association of Boards of Examiners for Long Term Care Administrators - the NAB exam. It is a 150-item multiple choice test covering the Domains of Practice.
If I have experience in a nursing home, must I still do a practicum?
The answer here is, “it depends”—on the type and amount of experience you have had. If you have been an administrator in another state for a year or more or if you have been an assistant administrator in a nursing home for one year, you may present evidence to have the practicum waived entirely. If you have had other types of employment in a nursing home or hospital or other high level administrative experience you may be eligible to have the number of hours of required practicum reduced to 300, 200, or even 80 hours.
What is an Acting Administrator Permit?
It is authorization from the board to serve a specified nursing facility as its acting administrator for a maximum of six months from the termination of the facility’s previously licensed administrator. It is issued to give the facility time to conduct a search and make a permanent appointment of a fully licensed administrator. An acting permit requires a request from the management of the facility involved and a separate application verifying that the person selected to serve as acting administrator has either previous experience in the management of a nursing home or has completed at least half of the requirements for full licensure. Any person who is appointed on an acting permit must also pass the state exam. The fee for an acting administrator permit is $250 and cannot be applied to the permanent license.
If I get a job offer and am not quite through with all my requirements, can I take the job on a temporary basis with the expectation of continuing once I have my license?
Yes, provided you obtain an acting administrator permit from the board. Before doing so, however, you will want to be sure that you can complete all remaining requirements within six months from the termination of the facility's previous licensed administrator since permits cannot be extended beyond that six month period. You will want to explore this option carefully and consult with board staff before accepting a position on a temporary basis.
For more information about the Acting Administrator Permit, visit the Acting Permit/Job Bank tab on the top of the page.
When I'm almost done with my requirements, can I get an acting permit to use in searching for a job?
No, an acting permit is issued only in conjunction with a specific vacancy at a specific nursing facility and applies strictly to work at that facility. What you can do instead is send the board office an authorization to disclose information about your pending licensure status to requesting employers. The board can then verify on request that you have completed x and y and have only z left to finish to obtain your license.
Once I get licensed, how do I find a job?
Keep your eyes and ears open and network. Be sure that everyone you know in the long-term care industry knows that you will soon obtain your license and be looking for a job as an administrator. Check the employment ads in your local and statewide newspapers—both in the administrative and health care sections. Become a student member of either or both of the associations that serve long term care facilities and their staff.
Care Providers of Minnesota Inc. (CPM) offers free membership in their association to students who are enrolled in recognized academic programs upon application signed by an instructor in the program. That entitles you to receive their weekly newsletter which lists openings advertised by their member long term care facilities. Once you graduate you can continue as a personal member for a cost of $200 per year, which entitles you to continue to receive the weekly newsletter and to provide CPM your resume for referral to their facilities on request. Call (952) 854-2844 for further information. Web site: http://careproviders.org
LeadingAge Minnesota offers a student membership program free of charge to persons who are current, full-time students in a senior housing or Long Term Care licensure program at an accredited post-secondary institution. To be eligible you must be either a junior or senior in such a program or a student intern at an MHHA-member facility (not available to licensure candidates who are also full-time employees of a long-term care or housing facility). Benefits include a complimentary subscription to the weekly association newsletter, Monday Mailing, which contains information on job openings; a free directory of member facilities; reduced tuition for educational programs sponsored by the association; a resume referral service; invitation to attend district meetings; and, following the end of the student membership benefit period (six months after graduation date), the opportunity to subscribe to Monday Mailing at the individual job-seekers rate ($30 per three months). For further information contact Aging Services of Minnesota at (651) 645-4545. Web site: www.agingservicesmn.org/
BENHA itself maintains a file with contact information of licensees who are looking for employment (either on a permanent or interim basis) that staff refers to facilities and management companies on request. Management companies for large groups of nursing and senior housing facilities are often looking for staff to join their organizations. Develop an appropriate cover letter expressing your interest in their organization and send them a copy of your resume. Also check out the trade publications in the long term care field. They usually have sections listing employment opportunities in each issue.
What is expected of me as a Licensee?
BENHA requires annual licensure renewal. All licenses are issued through June 30 of each year and must be renewed by July 1. In May of each year, the board will send you notification for renewal by email. Each year, you are required to inform the board of the continuing education credits you have completed during the preceding year (the CE “year” runs from May 1 – April 30). Each licensee is required to complete 20 credits every year. The number of credits required in your first year of licensure is prorated, depending upon how long you are licensed during that year. The board reviews and approves continuing education workshops for sponsoring organizations and posts notice of approved workshops and seminars.
Once licensed, you will have a number of professional obligations, like keeping the board informed of your mailing address and phone number, practicing in accord with statutes and board standards, renewing on time, etc. Please visit the "About Your License" section of the board website for further details.
Best of luck as you pursue that goal. Call the board office whenever you have questions. Staff will be happy to help.