Director of Nursing (DON) Jobs: Giving You an Opportunity to Use Your Strengths and Experience to Make a Difference in Long Term Care

Recent reports place nursing near the top of the nation’s most rapidly growing career fields. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting a 22 percent upsurge in demand for qualified health care professionals over the course of the coming decade. Though this higher-than-average growth spans the entire industry, perhaps the greatest demand lies in the long-term care sector. From post-injury rehabilitation to end-of-life and geriatric care, a growing gap is forming in this branch of the medical field. Nurses in these types of environments face a number of challenges, but as a Director of Nursing (DON) in Long Term Care (LTC), you could be part of the solution.

What LTC Director of Nursing Jobs Entail

Working in a nursing home, continuing care retirement community or other similar setting, Directors of Nursing are second in charge of the facilities in which they’re employed. You’d be responsible for a number of factors, answering only to the facility administrator. While the exact job description varies a bit based on the size of the center, its overall purpose and other elements, you’re likely to be accountable for:

  • Interviewing and hiring new personnel
  • Managing staff members and departments
  • Scheduling ongoing training for members of your staff
  • Ordering supplies
  • Setting up maintenance, repairs and other services for the facility
  • Creating a budget and holding departments responsible for adhering to it
  • Conducting staff performance reviews
  • Ensuring patients receive the best care possible
  • Acting as an intermediary for the facility and patients
  • Assessing patient acuity and allocating staff accordingly
  • Guaranteeing compliance to federal, state and local regulations for the type of facility with which you’re employed
  • Covering the duties of the facility’s head administrator in the event of his or her absence

You’ll be an advocate for the facility and members of your staff as well as patients and their families. Taking to heart the needs of everyone involved and relaying those to the proper authorities whether they be patients’ family members, nurses, aides, caregivers, housekeeping, nutritional services, or other stakeholders is a key component in long term care nursing director jobs. The facility’s medical care will essentially be in your hands, and it’ll be your responsibility to ensure it runs smoothly.

What Does it Take to Become a Director of Nursing (DON)?

First and foremost, to be qualified for all those Director of Nursing jobs waiting to be filled, you must be a Registered Nurse. In most cases, employers are looking for personnel who hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Having those three little initials (BSN) next to your name on a resume lets those on the hiring end of the spectrum know you’ve gone above and beyond extensive medical knowledge to acquire the administrative, management, and leadership training they’re looking for in someone to fill this role.

If you’ve earned your Associate Degree in Nursing, you’re not necessarily out of the running as long as you have several years of on-the-job experience under your belt. Some facilities will gladly offer guidance in management and administration if it means gaining a team leader who fully understands the challenges faced by those working under him or her. Keep in mind, though, if you lack a Bachelor’s degree, you could find yourself being passed over for someone with less experience in the field.

Those are only the bare essentials. Personality traits also play a significant role in determining whether or not you’re up for the tasks at hand. Being self-motivated is a definite plus since virtually the entire facility will be looking to you for support, guidance, and advocacy. Strong problem solving skills are also a must-have. Although the budgets, procedures, and plans you develop will need to be approved by your head administrator, the responsibility of coming up with them and ensuring they’re carried out falls on your shoulders.

Being a Director of Nursing likewise requires a bit of a thick skin. You’ll need to be able to look at each situation presented to you from an objective point of view and do your best to solve it with everyone’s best interests in mind. Still, you can’t please all the people all the time, so you have to be able to deal with objections and criticism. Correcting staff members’ actions and even firing those who aren’t pulling their weight also fall along these lines. It’s all basically a matter of being able to be tough but fair.

If you have a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) and are an experienced nurse leader, the opportunities are much more significant.

What Type of Income Can I Expect?

As is the case with most jobs, your annual income will depend on your level of education, previous experience, the facility you’re working for, and a range of other factors. While the average Director of Nursing salary is about $77,000 per year, you could bring in anywhere from $58,000 to just over $100,000. If you’re up for the challenge at hand and excel in your responsibilities, the rewards you’ll reap also extend beyond the financial realm. Plenty can be said for the satisfaction gained by having a positive impact on residents, staff members, and the facility as a whole.

We should also mention that a Long Term Care Director of Nursing can also work on an interim or contract basis. These professionals are highly sought after because of their diverse experience at working with facilities in a variety of situations, and as a result, the compensation packages can be quite lucrative. Sometimes interim LTC DONs receive tax-free housing and other living stipends to augment their hourly pay in return for working these temporary contract opportunities. Companies like 360 Healthcare Staffing help DONs who are interested in this type of opportunity.

Hundreds of thousands of positions in the health care industry will need to be filled over the years to come. Although those on the top rungs of the industry’s ladders are looking for personnel with more specialized skills than in years past, experience in the long-term care field is crucial in its own right. If you feel you have what it takes to succeed as a DON in LTC, patients, staff members, and facility overseers could certainly use your strengths to their advantage.

If you think you or a colleague is a good fit for these types of Director of Nursing positions, you can search for them here, or contact a recruiter at 360 Healthcare Staffing for more information.

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