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What is a Director of Nursing?

A director of nursing is a registered nurse who supervises nurses and nursing care in a hospital or other health care facility. A director of nursing should not only be an expert in patient care but a leader with health care management skills and training.

What Does a Director of Nursing Do?

A director of nursing has many duties as part of a health care facility’s leadership team. These include the development of nursing procedures and policies, interviewing and hiring nurses, and ensuring nursing positions are filled so all health care space is adequately staffed.

A director of nursing not only supervises nurses but is a part of a hospital or care facility’s leadership team and is a liaison between nurses and physicians.

Where Does a Director of Nursing Work?

A director of nursing is most often found in a hospital, but directors of nursing can also work in long-term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, larger medical clinics, and outpatient surgical centers.

What Degrees are Required for a Director of Nursing?

Most directors of nursing begin as nurses, so it is common for a director of nursing to hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Many directors of nursing hold master’s degrees and doctoral degrees as well, studying areas including health care management and administration.

A BSN degree usually takes four years to complete, although there are accelerated BSN programs for those who hold bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines. Master’s level degrees can take an additional two years, as do doctoral degrees.

Directors of nursing also are registered nurses or nurse practitioners. RNs must pass a licensing test after earning an associate degree or BSN. Nurse practitioners must have additional training as well as licensing.

How Much Does a Director of Nursing Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a healthcare manager such as a director of nursing is $104,280, which is more than $50 an hour. The growth rate in director of nursing jobs is 32 percent, which is much higher than other types of jobs.

Director of Nursing Job Requirements

Becoming a director of nursing can be the pinnacle of a nursing career. There are many steps to becoming a director of nursing, starting with nursing training. This usually consists of obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Once a BSN degree is earned, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse to practice as registered nurses.

After licensure as an RN, a hopeful director of nursing must then gain experience by working as a registered nurse. Working in a hospital or long-term care facility as a registered nurse can give a director of nursing valuable experience. Thorough knowledge of nursing is required to hire, train and lead a staff of nurses that can number in the hundreds.

A future director of nursing must then gain leadership and management experience. Becoming a shift leader or charge nurse can lead to being a nurse manager for a floor or unit of a hospital. Nursing leaders must be excellent nurses as well as skilled managers, good organizers, and effective communicators.

Though a master’s or doctoral degree is often not required for many director of nursing jobs, directors of nursing often have additional degrees in nursing, management, or health care administration. These degrees build on nursing knowledge and add training in human resource management, leadership, collaboration, financial analysis, and team building, among other essential skills.

These degrees are often earned by nurses and nurse managers who are balancing their studies with a full-time health care job.

Director of Nursing Career Path

Nurse managers who become directors of nursing often start either as deputy director of nursing in a larger health care facility or find director of nursing jobs in smaller hospitals. They then gain experience in director of nursing jobs and move into higher-paying jobs at larger organizations and facilities.

Directors of nursing jobs can also be a stepping stone to upper management levels of healthcare organizations. With their experience, directors of nursing can step up to become hospital administrators and CEOs of hospitals, clinics, and other health care organizations.

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