Nursing and Health Care Leadership

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The need for more sophisticated health care leadership to respond to the clinical, organizational and fiscal challenges faced by America's evolving health care industry is an absolute priority. Today's health care leaders and executives require not only clinical experience and strong communication skills, but business acumen and knowledge of financial and human resource management, strategic leadership, applied quality improvement and patient safety, and organizational behavior. 

Are you ready to play an important role in the transformation of an ever-changing health care environment across multiple settings and specialties? Do you want to build on your existing nursing knowledge, skills and abilities to advance your nursing career in leadership? It is now time for you to consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree in the Nursing and Health Care Leadership Specialty Program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

This dynamic program is offered part time.

In these interviews, Drs. Pam Jones, Debbie Arnow and Susie Leming-Lee share their thought and ideas about the importance of graduate nursing leadership education and the uniqueness of the Nursing and Health Care Leadership MSN specialty program at VUSN.


Interested in learning more about the NHCL specialty? Watch a previously-recorded webinar, which:

  • Discusses the role and MSN Essential competencies of our health care leaders.
  • Describes the Nursing and Health Care Leadership specialty and its modified, distance accessible format
  • Provides several available resources in the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing to help potential applicants explore their options

Our Strengths

The Nursing and Health Care Leadership MSN Program is ranked #4. We are next door to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of the nation’s top academic medical centers. Most important, we are committed to your success. We offer a rigorous curriculum taught by doctorally prepared faculty using traditional classroom settings as well as live streaming videos, distance educational activities including discussions boards and conference calls, and leadership education. You will benefit from low faculty-to-student ratios and personal attention. The Nursing and Health Care Leadership specialty program offers:  

  • A learning environment comprised of nursing professionals like you with diverse nursing experiences and backgrounds.
  • A team of dedicated Vanderbilt University Nursing and Health Care Leadership faculty that represent clinical nursing and executive leadership with extensive educational experiences in private and public health care settings.
  • A program that successfully incorporates technology with learning while embracing cultural and academic diversity.

Our Curriculum

As changes in health care delivery accelerate, our master's degree program not only prepares nurses at the graduate level to manage and lead health care services across multiple settings and specialty areas, but it prepares them to face the challenge of an ever-changing health care environment.

The curriculum provides a series of integrated learning experiences that focus on the development of nurses with keen analytic skills who are capable of leadership and innovation in a dynamic health care system.

Highlighting professional and personal integrity, commitment and achievement, this highly interactive specialty program engages and challenges nurses to understand current health care system problems, anticipate and manage change, and evaluate new evidence and emerging techniques that enhance leadership performance. 

The curriculum is based on current, relevant nursing practice that challenges nurses to work as both an individual and group member to critically analyze, evaluate and develop solutions in response to emerging trends and issues in nursing practice and health care. It leverages clinical practicum experiences with executive nursing leaders in a variety of quality health care systems. In addition, the specialty program content focuses on the impact of national, state and local health care policy and financing on nursing practice. 

The curriculum will prepare you to manage and lead the delivery of nursing care and health care services across multiple settings and specialty areas. You will gain the breadth of leadership knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform effectively and assume leadership positions in health care delivery organizations. 

In this specialty you will learn to:  

  • Define, implement and maintain standards for quality patient care
  • Develop, manage and evaluate work teams
  • Implement processes and programs to achieve financial targets and maintain fiscal accountability
  • Put processes and programs in place to achieve continual improvement in care delivery
  • Develop, performance counsel and evaluate assigned staff
  • Mentor staff to boost individual and team performance and competency
  • Collaborate effectively across disciplines and health care settings to enhance integration of services and care delivery
  • Facilitate clear communication of expectations and accountabilities to assigned staff
  • Demonstrate collaborative problem-solving abilities
  • Innovate, implement and manage change
  • Engage support from supervisors, subordinates and peers in meeting organizational goals
  • Balance strategic, financial, operational, quality and interpersonal responsibilities

Educational Format

This part-time program is offered in a modified, distance accessible format that allows you to earn your degree without having to relocate or give up employment while enrolled in the specialty program.. 

If you are a registered nurse with a BSN, you will learn via a distance-learning format, which provides flexibility for working nurses. There is no need for you to relocate or give up employment while completing your MSN. 

The program’s educational format combines the best of a modified distance accessible format with innovative interactive on campus “block” visits. On-campus learning experiences will be required for 2 to 3 days early in Semesters 1, 2, and 4. A virtual immersion will be scheduled in semester 5. Various learning activities throughout the semesters of the specialty program include online conferencing, video-streamed lectures and other resources. Practicum experiences in Practicum I and II will be arranged in your local region, whenever possible. Supportive and experienced faculty work closely with you throughout the program of study.

Career Opportunities

As a graduate of the Nursing and Health Care Leadership Master of Science in Nursing program, you will be prepared to practice in a variety of settings. The settings include, but are not limited to: 

  • Nurse-managed clinics
  • Managed care firms
  • Community-based clinics
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Hospitals
  • Data management firms
  • Practice management organizations
  • Corporate organizations

Due to State Board of Nursing or State Higher Education requirements, management practicums may not be available in every location. We make every reasonable effort to accommodate a student’s requests.

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