Quality assurance nurses are like other QA employees within an organization. They are tasked with evaluating nursing practices within an agency or department and recommending changes for improvement. Quality Assurance nurses use their critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities for the betterment of the healthcare agencies they oversee. Additionally, they must possess patient assessment skills, conduct data analysis, and provide case management, as needed.
In this article, we will explore:
- What does a quality assurance nurse do?
- How do I become a quality assurance nurse?
- What are the continuing education requirements for QA nurses?
- What are the job and salary outlooks for QA nurses?
What does a quality assurance nurse do?
The duties of a quality assurance nurse extend beyond simply optimizing care. They are responsible for overseeing regulatory readiness and adverse event review. Depending on where they work, essential duties and responsibilities vary. In general, QA nurses may be required to perform the following tasks:
- Identify and coordinate patient and provider needs
- Orchestrate patient care across multiple caregivers (preadmission through discharge)
- Consider cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds as part of individual patient needs
- Serve as the primary patient information resource
- Collaborate with physicians and other members of the medical care team to develop patient-care guidelines
- Lead quality care improvement teams
Quality care nurses are not just administrators. They must have hands-on nursing skills to fulfill some requirements of the job. Acute care abilities are crucial.
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How do I become a quality assurance nurse?
QA nurses must be RNs. There are several steps involved.
1. Earn a nursing degree
Quality assurance nurses must earn a BSN or ADN degree from an accredited nursing program. BSN programs take approximately four years to complete and typically cover general nursing skills and practices. ADN programs consist of a two-year curriculum that focuses on clinical training in several nursing specialties.
2. Get an RN license
Every state, including the District of Columbia, requires RNs to be licensed upon completion of their nursing degree program. State requirements vary, but as a rule, RN candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN to earn licensure. Both ADN and BSN nursing programs prepare nursing candidates to sit for the NCLEX.
3. Gain experience
Quality assurance nurses with clinical experience in long-term care and in-home care are preferred by some employers. Knowledge of the quality review process, and expertise in state and federal health regulations, is a plus.
4. Consider certification
Certification is available for quality assurance nurses but is not required. The National Association for Healthcare Quality offers a certification program. Nurses complete the online course and must pass an exam to earn certification. Recertification is required every two years in addition to the completion of relevant CEUs.
Some quality assurance nursing candidates opt to go on in their schooling to earn a master’s degree. These programs focus on healthcare quality and are a popular choice. Some of the topics that nurses can expect to cover in a Master of Science in Nursing Healthcare Quality and Safety are healthcare economics, healthcare law, healthcare leadership, patient safety, and quality improvement.
Other requirements and professional certifications vary by state, so it is important to check with your intended state of licensure to ensure all mandates are met.
What are the CE requirements for QA nurses?
Quality assurance nurses must meet all licensure requirements for RNs. Continuing education requirements vary per state so it is important to see what is necessary to recertify.
What are the job and salary outlooks for QA nurses?
The future looks bright for quality assurance nurses. An additional 221,900 QA nursing jobs are expected to be added to payrolls across the U.S. by 2029. The growth rate for QA nurses is predicted at 7% during the same period, which is faster than the average growth for other professions.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average median salary for quality assurance nurses at $75,330 ($36.22/hr) as of May 2020. You can also use our salary estimator for additional information.