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What Does a Director of Nursing Do?

By C. Webb
Updated May 17, 2024
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A director of nursing is a registered nurse who is responsible for overseeing all aspects of nursing within the health-care facility. In addition, the director of nursing handles administrative duties as they pertain to patient care, supply needs, and finance. While a director of nursing is an educated and licensed nurse, his or her primary responsibilities are supervision and administrative rather than working with patients.

Skill sets for a nursing director include patience, leadership abilities, tact, and the ability to work under pressure. In addition, strong organizational skills and the ability to communicate effectively are valuable assets for the job. Knowledge about finance and budget is called for in some director of nursing positions.

The nursing director often acts as a liaison between the nursing staff and the physicians or health-care facility managers. He or she is expected to understand the nursing staff's concerns and relay those concerns to management members and doctors. In addition, the director is expected to make suggestions to address the concerns of the nursing staff.

Planning and implementing strategies for operational management are primary job duties for a director of nursing. Meetings with physicians and staff members provide the director with the information needed to plan operational strategies. Implementation of those strategies may include training, hiring additional staff, or scheduling changes.

Market research is often conducted by the director to provide the foundation for strategic planning. In addition, meeting with staff nurses and gathering their input about changed needed to improve patient care can help the director learn what the patients need. Presenting research results to a board of directors is another possible duty of a director of nursing.

While the majority of a director of nursing's duties are administrative, he or she is typically expected to touch base with clinical areas to determine satisfaction levels of patients and staff members. This can be done through face-to-face conversations, satisfaction surveys, and other methods meant to elicit input. The education required for a director of nursing is usually a master's degree, although a bachelor's degree is acceptable in some regions. The director must be a registered nurse and maintain his or her regional nursing license.

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