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From Nursing to MBA:
7 Reasons for RNs to Switch to Business

Why nurses should consider an MBA

General nursing education programs don’t always fully prepare students to look beyond earning their undergraduate degrees. After all, they’re typically built to get nursing students to a specific endpoint.

There are additional high-level career path options that a nurse may be interested in as well. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has many benefits and is often overlooked by nurses that are wanting to further their education—and few know what exactly you can do with an MBA. It can be an invaluable way for nurses to advance in their field.

An MBA helps nurses achieve an understanding of core business principles and allows them to come up with comprehensive solutions to complex challenges in the healthcare field.

These are the biggest reasons to consider pursuing an MBA and furthering your education (you might also be interested in the Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Administration program as a specialty):

1. You will understand how a hospital functions as a business

MBA degrees help nurses understand how business and finance relate to healthcare.

Michelle D. Metzger is a registered nurse (RN) who earned her Master of Science in Nursing Administration (MSN) and an MBA in 2013. As the current Department Chair of Nursing at Herzing University and with more than 20 years’ experience as a Certified Nurses’ Assistant (CNA), Metzger has a wealth of experience in both patient care and the business side of nursing.

“Nursing is just as much a business as it is the art of caring for people. Nurses must understand the driving force behind the financial decisions made by hospital CEOs and CFOs if they want to gain a foothold in the decision-making process,” says Metzger.

How do hospitals charge for care and gain reimbursement? What is classified as inpatient versus outpatient? Knowing the answers to questions like those will help nurses understand how hospital functions and what it can do to serve its patients better.

Metzger adds, “Nurses who understand how a business works will be able to influence the future of nursing, providing insight and solutions that address both the needs of the patient and the demands of the hospital.”

2. You will develop strong management and leadership capabilities

With an MBA, nurses can become better leaders and decision-makers.

A background in business helps nurses understand insurance reimbursements, cash flow, expenses, budgets and labor costs.

Managing a budget is an essential part of a nursing leader’s job; they must figure out how to operate within a budget to ensure they get the funding they need to maintain a thriving nursing unit.

Nurse with MBA Leading Business Meeting

3. Excellent job opportunities in leadership & administration

MBA degrees (and MSN degrees) can open the door of opportunity to more leadership positions in nursing, or even advance to senior leadership positions and executive level roles, including job titles such as:

  • Nurse Manager. Nurse Managers oversee a team of nurses and additional healthcare staff. You’ll have a critical role in patient care and improving outcomes for an organization.
  • Nurse Administrator. Nurse Administrators are responsible for a wide array of managerial roles within a healthcare institution with the primary purpose of delivering the best patient care. Learn more about the requirements to become a nurse administrator.
  • Healthcare Manager. You’ll learn the inner workings of the healthcare system, helping hospitals, small practices, insurance companies and other institutions adapt to evolving trends in healthcare. Learn more about how to become a healthcare manager.
  • Health Information Manager. You are the manager of all healthcare information—you’ll often find this kind of job available in large institutions or hospitals with several medical facilities. Read about what health information management is and more details about a manager's responsibilities.
  • Director of Nursing (DON). A Director of Nursing is a RN who manages the care of all patients in a healthcare institution. It’s a supervisory role in which you’ll facilitate communication between patients and doctors, as well as manage staff.
  • Chief Nursing Officer/Executive (CNO/CNE). These titles are used for the highest management position in nursing. CNO/CNE’s are the senior nursing supervisors charged with improving patient care. They are part of the C-Suite level executives.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The CFO is responsible for a medical facility’s operating costs and keeping control of the budget. Being in charge of a business’ finances is a major responsibility, and earning an MBA is a crucial qualification to be considered.
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO). The COO is a corporate executive responsible for a company’s ongoing business operations.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The highest ranking executive in a company. You’ll be in charge of making big decisions for the business and manage the resources and operations of the company.

Job descriptions associated with the title will vary based on the medical organization. Ongoing experience as a registered nurse plus an MSN/MBA degree can put you in the running for these kinds of positions. Learn more about the biggest differences between nursing and healthcare administration.

4. These jobs can come with an excellent salary

Medical managers and business executives are among the highest paid professionals you can find. You’ll have to work hard to earn it, but jobs in these fields come with very good starting salaries on average.

Average salary estimates for leadership roles in nursing and business
CareerPer yearPer hour
Medical and Health Service Managers$134,440$64.64
Includes healthcare managers, health administrators, and other medical managerial positions in nursing. Annual/hourly salaries via the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Chief Executives$258,900$124.47
Includes C-Suite Chief Officer positions CNO/CNE, CFO, COO, CEO. Annual/hourly salaries via the Bureau of Labor Statistics
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5. Pair an MSN with an MBA and become highly qualified

Your qualifications as a nursing leader with an emphasis on the business of healthcare will jump off a resume.

  • A nurse practitioner with a master’s degree may seek an MBA to better their business skills and start their own practice, or join another in a business leadership role.
  • A nursing educator with many years teaching in a clinical practice and an MSN may earn an MBA to pivot their career in a business direction.
  • A nursing leader or administrator with an MSN can add an MBA to their resume to make them highly qualified for a position in business leadership in a medical institution.

6. It’s a great idea if you’ve considered a career change from nursing to business

You’ve already invested heavily to obtain your nursing degree, but the job isn’t living up to your expectations. Going back to college for something new is a daunting prospect. However, your new degree can help you open doors that may not have been available to you before.

Your frustration may stem from a job problem rather than a career problem

A mismanaged organization with a poor culture, a bad boss, burnout or lack of progression can make nurses feel inadequately empowered in an otherwise very rewarding career. The everyday stress of patient care combined with little support from an employer is a formula for very understandable impatience to find something new.

Sometimes an addition of knowledge, skills and attitudes can be empowering as an individual and help you reinvigorate your career to a new and exciting future.

The best answer might be advancement rather than outright career change

You have a wealth of experience in a high value field and you can use it to your advantage. A career change from bedside nursing to business or leadership is a common way for nurses to take the next step into new responsibilities.

Nurses who earn an MSN or MBA will be strongly considered for business and leadership roles in healthcare facilities. Combining your experience in nursing with a master’s degree puts you in an excellent position for a fresh new role in healthcare.

7. Herzing University offers a master’s program built for you

Three of our online master’s degree programs will qualify you best for a role on the business side of nursing:

MBA Graduates Leading Business Meeting

  • Program length: 12 months
  • Credits: 33
  • Degree required: Bachelor's degree
Nurse Leader with Healthcare Administrators in Meeting in Background
  • Program length: 8-20 months
  • Options: View our program options
  • Degree required: An undergrad or graduate nursing degree
Healthcare Administrator Consulting with Doctor
  • Program length: 16 months
  • Classes: View the curriculum
  • Degree required: Bachelor's degree

What makes more sense for me, an MBA or Master's of Science? Contact our admissions department for more information to speak with one of our nursing leaders here at Herzing University—we’ll talk through your options and determine your best next step.

US News Badge Best MBA Programs Online 2024
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Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best online graduate nursing and MBA programs in 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can apply for our MBA program even if your undergraduate degree is in a non-business major. Herzing's MBA program includes foundational topics to help you develop a strong footing to succeed in graduate-level business courses.

Additionally, Herzing offers tutors and academic support resources both on-campus and through the Online Division at Herzing University.

No!

You are never too old to advance your education, better yourself, and continue discovering pathways to new career opportunities.

If you’re concerned about adapting to learning online, rest assured we provide extensive virtual student services to ensure you’re able to navigate coursework successfully. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and you are never alone on your journey.

Yes, earning an MBA is worth it!

According to a study from the Research Department of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and mba.com, 87% of full-time MBA graduates received job offers within three years after graduation. Many of them (73%) had a job offer before graduation. In addition, 70% of recruiters agree that employees with a graduate business degree typically earn more than others in their organizations.

In terms of both employability and potential earnings, enrolling in an MBA program can help you take your career to the next level.

MBA holders in 2022 earned an average base salary of $115,000 per year, according to the 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

This can translate to a wide range depending on several factors, including where you earned your degree, your prior professional experience, where you’re employed, and the industry in which you work.

You can find your niche and potentially earn a very good salary by earning an MBA and applying what you learn to climb the ladder in your field. We know you are possible!

The online MBA program takes as few as 12 months if you enroll on a full-time basis.

However, you can complete the program on a more flexible part-time schedule if you choose. We want to help you learn at your pace and prepare you best for career success immediately upon graduation.

Global acceptance of MBAs earned online has generally increased, especially since the rapid transition to online learning in the wake of COVID-19.

According to the 2022 Corporate Recruiters Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council, there was higher enrollment in online MBA programs than full-timrece MBA programs for the first time in 2020-2021. It varies by region—but in 2022, 60% of global corporate recruiters regarded graduates of online and in-person degrees equally, up significantly from 34% the year prior.

While the 2023 report notes a slight decrease to 54%, that still represents a significant increase compared to years prior.

Online education is becoming the norm in more and more areas in higher education. You can earn a great education in our online program and graduate ready to succeed at the highest levels of business management and administration.

Your career advancement awaits.

The world of healthcare is evolving quickly, and there are not enough qualified nurses to step into key positions and lead the way for change.

This is a great time for nurses to pursue an advanced degree and extend their voices beyond the bedside.

Learn more about our online MBA program

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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