What you can do to Become a Director of Nursing
Managing the continuum of care in a long-term care center, clinic or hospital is the responsibility of a Director of Nursing. In an effort to provide quality care, these professionals interact with patients and their families, as well as physicians all while managing an entire staff of nurses. Progressive supervisory experience along with advanced education is required of a Director of Nursing since the position requires a high degree of responsibility. In an entire department that focuses on patient care, the Director of Nursing becomes the point-person.
These professionals often work their way up to nursing management after having begun their careers as registered nurses. A graduate degree and leadership experience in the field follows, rounding out the skills necessary for the position. As such, here are 5 steps to becoming a Director of Nursing.
Steps in Becoming a Director of Nursing
Step 1: Completion of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree
While the requirements to become a registered nurse (RN) differ depending on the type of position one is seeking, they are fairly specific for anyone looking to become a director. Some employers require only a nursing certificate or associate’s degree. However, according to Monster.com, individuals who want to become a Director of Nursing must obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The reason is that among other factors, these degree programs cover these areas:
•Nursing science and principles
A BSN program typically takes four years to complete and may entail other areas of course focus.
Step 2: Obtain a Licensure
A number of actions need to be completed before one can obtain a nursing licensure. To complete the process, individuals must acquire any state-specific certificates along with passing the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Moreover, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for advancement into any management-level nursing position, individuals need more than just the state-specific licenses and certificates and an associate’s degree; they need a bachelor’s degree, as stated above.
Step 3: Gain Experience in the Field
A Director of Nursing will work their way up to the director position by not only beginning their career as a registered nurse, but acquiring plenty of experience in the field. For most higher level positions such as Director of Nursing, employers requires at least 2 to 5 years of experience as a registered nurse (the more experience, the better). With this experience, the degrees, and licensure, registered nurses can find director positions in hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians’ offices. However, about sixty percent of all registered nurses are hired by hospitals, according to the BLS.
Step 4: Leadership Role Experience
Since directors typically interact with doctors and patients, as well as oversee a large staff of practical and registered nurses, supervisory experience is vital to the role. This is because directors will use both their communication and their leadership skills to accomplish most tasks. Furthermore, in order to gain the necessary leadership experience and become equipped with the leadership skills essential to the position, registered nurses work their way up. RNs will start at the lower level management positions like assistant unit manager or head nurse, gain experience, and then continue up the ladder.
Step 5: Graduate Degree Program Completion
Obtaining a graduate degree in health services administration or in nursing may help registered nurses with experience get a leg up as a Director of Nursing candidate. Most Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program will have courses focusing on:
•Health care finance
These programs also take approximately two years to complete. Further, in addition to the MSN, some employers and/or states may require the completion of more licensing and certificate programs. It is a good idea to check state requirements to know exactly what is expected of a Director of Nursing.