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Everything You Need to Know About Directors of Nursing

Table of Contents

Director of Nursing Job Description

Directors of Nursing are responsible for leading and supervising a nursing unit. This position is ultimately responsible, and accountable, for the nursing care received by residents. They often report to the Nursing Home Administrator/Executive Director. Specifically, Director of Nursing job duties include:

  • Directing the nursing program, including implementing new policies and procedures when necessary
  • Overseeing hiring, firing, and development of nursing staff
  • Communicating with families, residents, and physicians as needed
  • Developing a business plan and budget for the nursing unit
  • Participating in creating resident care plans and ensuring they are followed
  • Ensuring the nursing unit is compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations

Job Titles Related to Director of Nursing (DON)

Depending on the size and focus of the facility, Directors of Nursing sometimes go by other names, such as DON, DNS, or Assistant Director of Nursing ADON. In assisted living centers, the DON may be called a Wellness Director, Clinical Director or Director of Clinical Services.

DON-Positions (1)

Director of Nursing Job Requirements

The minimum educational requirement for director of nursing jobs is a Bachelor’s of Science degree from an accredited college or university. Candidates must also be licensed, registered nurses. However, many directors of nursing have a Master’s of Health Administration (MHA) or a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in healthcare management, and/or further training or certifications such as: Director of Nursing Services – Certified (DNS-CT).

Director of Nursing jobs require a candidate who has significant critical care and operations management experience, a strong understanding of skilled nursing standards of care, and federal and state regulations including Medicare, Medicaid, and Managed Care reimbursement rules. A high level of professionalism, excellent communication skills, and compassionate leadership qualities are must-haves. Candidates must be able to think critically, and adapt quickly to new situations.

Directors of Nursing Salary Range

The mean annual salary for Director of Nursing jobs can range depending on geographic location as well as size of the healthcare organization. On average, the annual salary can range from $80,000 - $120,000, however  Directors of Nursing with a Master’s degree, advanced certifications, and/or ten years or more of experience could expect to earn a higher amount annually.

DON-Salary (2)Assistant Director of Nursing salaries often have a range of $65,000-$80,000, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors.

Job Outlook for Directors of Nursing

DON-Job-Outlook-1The outlook for Director of Nursing jobs is very good! Due to the aging baby boom population, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the need for nursing professionals will significantly increase. In fact, BLS reports that “employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

Job Hunter Resources

LeaderStat helps the nation’s top healthcare, long-term care and senior living organizations fill nurse leadership roles including Director of Nursing positions. We have suggestions on how to advance your career into the Director of Nursing field, and our executive recruiters can be an invaluable resource to help you find the right Director of Nursing job.


Healthcare Consulting | Recruiting | Staffing | LeaderStat

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