Director of Nursing Job Description

Director of Nursing Job Description, Skills, and Salary

Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a director of nursing. Feel free to use our director of nursing job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a director of nursing.


Who is a Director of Nursing?

A Director of Nursing (DON) is also known as a nurse director who is registered and their sole responsibility is to manage the services provided by the nursing personnel of a healthcare facility.  Their primary duty mainly entails overseeing the nursing personnel and patient care, as well as administrative duties such as record keeping and budgeting. This professional nursing service counsels medical staff, departmental heads, and administrators in matters that nursing services or are within the complex healthcare system while being a resource for others within the community. Directors of nursing frequently serve as a link between the nursing staff and the doctors or management addressing issues that concerns facility improvements. The director of nursing’s primary role is broad, from interpreting and rewriting policies and objectives of nursing services within a system and they also serve as a support shoulder to staff and community groups.


Planning and executing strategies for operational management is the responsibility of a director of nursing. He or she also meets with physicians and staff members to provide the director with the information required to plan operational strategies. Implementation of these strategies may include training, recruitment of additional staff, or scheduling changes.

The director of nursing work environment is usually in a hospital or clinic where they spend a lot of time. Although that solely depends on the work schedule of the day. They are usually part of the high management team of the organization and they are usually assigned their own office. The majority of the time they spend is interacting with nurses and they manage meetings with the management team of the facility.

Because they play a major health role, the director of nurses may work standard office hours which is 40 hours, or cover shifts on nights or weekends. Full-time hours are very common and their attention may be demanded when there is an outbreak of an emergency. The role involves sitting at a desk during the day and standing or moving around the hospital or clinic.


Director of Nursing Job Description

Below are the director of nursing job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a director of nursing job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.

The duties and responsibilities of a director of nursing include the following:

  • Manages and leads all nursing personnel operation
  • Develops short and long-term goals for the entire nursing department
  • Establishes new policies and updates exciting policies to enhance the standard care for patients
  • Liaison between the nursing staff and all other health consultants for the optimal patient care
  • Manages and monitors finances and accounting
  • Collaborates with all health staff members and outside agencies to improve the quality of services provided and to resolve any pending issue
  • Participates in management team meetings to discuss the status of patients and nursing staff
  • Creates a standard of care that complies with the law and ensures that all nurses adhere to it
  • Plans, and oversees admission, nursing, and patient care procedure
  • Responds to any nursing-related issue promptly or at an appropriate time
  • Recruits and trains new nursing staff members
  • Evaluates staff performance and prepare an accurate report to detail the findings]
  • Represents the clinic as a director of nursing and participates in meetings and conferences



  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing, healthcare admission, or a relevant field
  • A minimum of 2 years of proven experience as a nurse or in a similar role
  • Valid Registered Nurse licensure with five or more working years of experience in a multi-disciplinary team. BSN preferred
  • Demonstrated skills in medical practice management and human resources
  • Experience with electronic data capture systems in a health care setting
  • In-depth knowledge of legal policies and regulations in the healthcare industry
  • Certified nursing and CPR qualifications
  • Aptitude for problem-solving
  • Excellent leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills


Essential Skills

A director of nursing is someone nurses and other healthcare staff look up to; he or she must possess some salient skills to be successful in this role and they are;

  • Emotional Intelligence: a director of nurses must have a high IQ and should also have a high level of intelligence. Emotional intelligence simply means the ability to recognize others’ emotions and to evaluate emotional responses and attitudes towards a situation.

A Director of Nursing must be able to analyze different circumstances and identify how both parties are feeling. He or she must also be able to evaluate his feelings and they will impact his actions. The ability to determine your feeling and others will be phenomenal. It is highly requisite in the field of nursing, for the director to possess emotional intelligence because he encounters a lot of people on daily basis. This may not be easy as presumed but it can be very stressful to apply emotional intelligence to individuals. This kind of circumstance requires an individual that can balance or manage his feelings while acting.

Positive and negative emotions interplay in our daily lives, for a director of nurses placing a priority on feelings and how to use them to guide other people’s actions in other to accentuate problem-solving skills, is highly beneficial.

  • Clinical IQ: apart from emotional intelligence, a Director of Nursing must also know the field of healthcare. The director of nurses is someone nurses look up to so he or she must be rich in the knowledge of healthcare. Directors are often monitored closely to ensure that they have an in-depth understanding of their job roles and responsibilities. In the aspect of managing a nursing department, errors are highly abhorred.

Hence, clinical IQ is indispensable for a director of nursing. One way to ascertain that a director of nurses is competent for the job is to look at their credentials which; are education, and licensure which are highly paramount to the healthcare field.

It is not enough for directors of nurses to know the healthcare system they must know how to put it into practice. Directors of nurses must always ensure they produce a quality output while abiding by the standards for practices and successes. Nurses look up to the director of nurses as a role model, so it is, therefore, paramount for a director of nurses to demonstrate some salient capabilities to serve as an inspiration for others.

  • Self-Discipline & Accountability: self-discipline is a wonderful trait that must be exhibited by the director of nurses. It is paramount for directors of nursing to have this quality because they are leaders. The director of nurses should be able to set agendas or company goals for nurses to follow because they look up to them. They should also be able to set up standard regulations in a work environment, by doing this they are holding themselves accountable and their staff as well.

They need to create a working condition where everyone is motivated to succeed and everyone knows their responsibilities. Having a leader who is not ready to motivate himself to transform will make others feel discouraged and wonder

Accountability is highly crucial, so a director of nurses must be able to set goals and plans so that everyone in the organization is working towards a collaborative objective for the success of the organization.

  • Communication Skill: Accountability and communication hand in hand in an organization. One without the other will lead to an unfulfilled dream. A director of nursing is solely responsible for breaking a message or information in a way the nurses can digest it and pass the information across.

Poor communication skills poor performance, risks, threats to people’s health, and dissatisfaction. Communication is a core that everyone must practice and directors of nurses must be proficient in this area to avoid the consequences. Directors of nursing can take advantage of the technology available to ensure communication between nurses and patients.

They must hold regular meetings and update nurses about the latest information and they must be supportive of nurses. It is only through communication that the director of nurses can work collaboratively with nurses, doctors, surgeons, and the management to achieve a common objective.

  • Passion for what they do: when you are very passionate about what you do; your productivity will increase. A director of nurses first started his career as a registered nurse before excelling in the position of director of nursing. It was love for his job and consistency that kept him going. The director of nursing needs to be passionate about his career in other to encourage other employees, treat patients with respect, and approach problems in a graceful way.

Passion is highly contagious, if a director of nurses shows passion for his or her job others will likely contact that passion.


How to Become a Director of Nursing

An individual considering becoming a director of nursing must follow the stipulated steps highlighted below:

  • Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree

This is highly crucial; you must a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). During the degree, you will be mandated to complete a nursing curriculum and additional general education courses. The BSN lasts for four years and as you undergo the program, you will become a Registered Nurse (RN) with a nursing license.

An alternative route to becoming a director of nursing is to complete an associate’s degree in nursing (AND) and thereafter you can register to become an RN.

A director of nursing can proceed to get a master’s degree, although some employers will also accept a candidate with a bachelor’s degree and proven experience. You can enroll for a master’s degree in public health administration, health services management, or health administration.

  • Enroll for Internship

Nursing is a practical field and a director of nursing must practically master the healthcare system by enrolling in an internship. You may be offered job training in your new role shadowing the current director of nursing, a member of the management team, a member of the accounting team, or another appropriate member of personnel.

The orientation process will expose you to how the new employer and the new institution function daily and the institution area you will focus on. You may be opportune to have a large number of nurses and procedures to familiarize yourself with, so the training period depends on the size of the organization.

  • Acquire a Nursing License

Different states have specific requirements but the most general is that you must graduate from a state-approved institution. You will be mandated to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to obtain your Registered Nurse (RN) license.

  • Certification

After earning your license, you will impress potential employers by securing professional certifications such as Director of Nursing Services Certification (DNS-CT), and Certified Director of Nursing Exam (CDONA). This certification will make you a professional in your field and increase your chances of being hired by the job recruiter.

  • Create a resume: draft a resume and highlight your skills, work history, achievements, and educational qualifications. Search for job openings close to you and write your cover letter based on the job listing.
  • Beat the Interview: once you have submitted your application and you are invited for an interview. Review your work experience and think about questions your interviewer will ask you.  Particularly focus on skills like leadership and communication skills because they are requisite skills that a director of nursing must possess. List out the questions you will like to ask your interviewer to impress him or her. Answer all the interview questions constructively to beat the interview.


Where can a Director of Nursing Work?

A Director of Nursing can work in Federal, State, Local, physician offices, nursing rental care, outpatient care center, and government institutions. They can also be employed in healthcare institutions. A director of nursing works in the healthcare sector and they play a significant role to enhance the sector.


Director of Nursing Salary Scale

  • In the United States of America, a director of nursing earns $91412 per year. Salaries from $32,000 to $180,000. The salary varies based on the level of experience and location.
  • In Nigeria, the salary of a director of nursing is 631,000NGN. Salary ranges from 328,000NGN to 631,000NGN. The salary includes bonuses and other allowances. The salary may vary based on the experience of the director of nursing.


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