What is a Director of Nursing?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Director of Nursing is the title given to the nurse who performs a supervisory role for an entire nursing department, which would most often be found in a hospital or long-term care facility. He or she is required to interact with doctors, patients, families and other nurses, making the position one of the most important in the field of nursing. Because of the great deal of responsibility that this person is entrusted with, those who aspire to become one must meet certain education and experience criteria prior to obtaining a position.

It's typically necessary for a person to earn a bachelor's degree before he or she can become a director of nursing. Most employers prefer that the degree is in nursing, but it is not always necessary. In addition to a four-year degree, the person must be able to acquire whatever licenses or certificates are necessary for the state or region he or she is working in. At the very least, most directors will be registered nurses (RNs). A master’s degree in public health administration, nursing or a related field is not necessary, but very often desired. In addition to education, many employers require four to six years of nursing experience, with at least two of those years in a supervisory or leadership position.


The job duties of a director of nursing are all-encompassing. One of these duties is to monitor compliance of applicable laws and regulations and maintain standards of care which are outlined by the state where a facility is located. If the facility administrator is absent, the director will usually be responsible for operations. Other important administrative duties this person usually has are compiling statistics, preparing reports and maintaining patients’ medical records.

Directly responsible for the nursing staff at a facility, the director of nursing has many job responsibilities. In addition to making decisions about hiring and firing the nursing staff, he or she will schedule and review the work of the staff while developing a budget and maintaining expenditures. Helping to develop and implement policies and procedures for all aspects involved with a hospital or long-term care facility is a job duty that most perform.

The director of nursing is an integral part of conflict resolution by assisting with any problems that the staff, the patients or doctors may have. Additionally, he or she will need to be ready for any emergency that may arise in the facility. He or she should also be ready to cover any of the duties that his or her staff performs whenever it may be required.


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Post 7

You only think you can run a hospital without a DON. In reality, you are only treading water, and not supporting patient or nursing safety without having someone oversee and advocate for these areas. Do not delude yourself that a ship can sail without a leader. It will sink sooner or later.

Post 6

I would not want to be in any hospital that did not run with a DON. It is a very important position!

Post 5

I agree with everything and some with this article. I have been a director of nursing for three years, and if I did not work and oversee the care being served by the facility, the staff would not have the center to the web. I've worked in a long term care facility with 65 beds and I do much more then this article reads. Long term care is holistic nursing and you assist in many different things. I do love it.

Post 4

i wonder how much they make? what is their yearly salary?

Post 3

I believe it is a medicare requirement to have a don and assistant don.

Post 2

I wrote this article to answer the question, "What is a DON?" Although there may not be a DON in all hospitals, my article addresses what their responsibilities would be in a hospital where they work. I have made no judgements about whether or not the position is needed.

Post 1

We can run a big hospitals without DON for long time, so i think it's not such an important position!

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