Each day, a director of nursing ensures that patients, nurses and hospital administrators are satisfied with how the nursing department operates. She makes sure there are enough nurses; that nurses are adequately trained and equipped to perform their jobs; the right rules are in place and are followed; and there is enough money in the department budget. She coaches and motivates her nurses to perform at their best and to develop in their careers. She also represents the health care facility as a leader on internal and external committees.
A director of nursing supervises the nurses in her department, providing coaching, advice and positive feedback. She gathers performance feedback, conducts performance reviews, and recommends promotions and terminations. She also provides career advice and counseling to nursing assistants and to those wishing to pursue a specialty or a career in management. A director disciplines nurses as appropriate when there is a problem or complaint, or when a nurse doesn't follow established protocols and procedures.
Budget and Staffing
The nursing director manages the department budget and staffing. She is responsible for recruiting and hiring nurses, and ensures that all shifts are staffed 24 hours per day with the appropriate number of nurses according to law and hospital policies. She monitors the department's overtime budget to minimize overtime expense and ensures adequate budgeting for medical equipment and supplies that nurses need to perform their jobs. The director of nursing creates a budget for upcoming fiscal years, and negotiates budget increases for the department and special equipment purchases with hospital management.
Policies and Procedures
A director of nursing reviews department policies and procedures in areas such as infection control, medication control, restraint and safety procedures. She creates or delivers training to nursing staff to make sure the nurses understand and follow policies and procedures. The nursing director keeps abreast of changes in legislation or hospital policy, and creates or updates nursing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. She completes forms, reports and other paperwork to certify that the department complies with all rules and protocols.
While the nursing director doesn't usually provide direct patient care, she oversees the care provided by nurses in the department and maintains relationships with patients, families, physicians and other ancillary staff. She resolves complaints, responds to suggestions, provides information and directs others to the appropriate hospital department. She establishes relationships with community groups, writes articles, makes presentations or serves in a leadership position for a professional nursing society. The nursing director helps create a professional work environment that values nurses, treats patients with dignity and respects diversity.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Health Services Managers
- Monster.com: Admissions Director of Nursing Hospital Job Description
- Adams State College: Nursing Department Faculty Handbook
- American College of Health Care Administrators: A Guide for the Consultant Pharmacist, Director of Nursing, Medical Director and Nursing Home Administrator in Long-Term Care Organizations
Steve McDonnell's experience running businesses and launching companies complements his technical expertise in information, technology and human resources. He earned a degree in computer science from Dartmouth College, served on the WorldatWork editorial board, blogged for the Spotfire Business Intelligence blog and has published books and book chapters for International Human Resource Information Management and Westlaw.