Director of Nursing Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Director of Nursing, or Nursing Director, oversees the nursing staff and overall nursing operations of their healthcare facility. Their duties include evaluating and directing all nursing employees, establishing goals for the nursing department and creating and enforcing compliant healthcare policies.

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Director of Nursing duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a Director of Nursing include:

  • Supervising all nursing staff
  • Overseeing department budgets
  • Reporting to higher management in the healthcare facilities
  • Maintaining high standards of care for all patients
  • Managing patients’ data and medical records as confidential records
  • Communicating with doctors, patients and family members about patient health 
  • Recruiting, training and onboarding new nursing staff
  • Providing ongoing education classes 
  • Implementing new procedures and training Nurses on policies
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What does a Director of Nursing do?

Directors of Nursing are responsible for ensuring all nursing personnel are performing productively and efficiently at all times. They often act as the point of contact between their employees and the Physicians or other healthcare team members. Directors of Nursing build training programs and operating policies that help the nursing staff meet goals that improve the overall performance of the healthcare facility. 

Many of them are responsible for recruiting, hiring and onboarding new nursing team members. Directors of Nursing are usually given a budget that they must follow and consider when ordering new supplies and making any other financial decisions.

Director of nursing skills and qualifications

Directors of Nursing need a variety of hard skills, soft skills and qualifications, such as:

  • Excellent multitasking and organization skills
  • Ability to lead and instruct others
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Up-to-date knowledge of nursing practices, methods and tools
  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to manage a large budget

Director of Nursing salary expectations

A Director of Nursing makes an average of $94,862 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location.

Director of Nursing education and training requirements

Directors of Nursing must be Registered Nurses. They should have at least an associate degree, though many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. They also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), and maintain a current nursing license. Often, a Master of Science in Nursing or Healthcare Administration might be necessary. A Director of Nursing gains years of training throughout their career as a Registered Nurse. 

Director of Nursing experience requirements

Candidates for a Director of Nursing position should have full-time, consistent experience as a Registered Nurse for several years. A minimum of four years or more of consistent full-time nursing experience is useful for a Director of Nursing job.

Some healthcare facilities, such as hospitals or nursing homes, require several years of supervisory experience before they consider a Director of Nursing candidate. A master’s degree can serve as a substitute for some experience. Healthcare requirements also may vary from state to state for being a Director of Nursing.

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Frequently asked questions about Directors of Nursing


Who reports to a Director of Nursing?

All nursing personnel reports to the Director of Nursing. This includes Registered Nurses, Licensed Practitioners and more. They oversee all the Nurses’ performances and set goals for each of them. They schedule appointments with the nursing team to identify their strengths and any improvements that need to be made. 

Directors of Nursing should have a good grasp on their Nurses’ skill sets and interests to properly assign them tasks and responsibilities they’ll do well in. They also build the Nurses’ schedules according to their preferences and needs. If patients are having issues with a Nurse’s care, the Director of Nursing addresses and resolves the situation. 


What makes a good Director of Nursing?

A great Director of Nursing must have extensive experience as a Registered Nurse so they can better train and mentor the Nurses who work below them. They should also have strong leadership and supervisory abilities as they’re often providing guidance and support to everyone on their nursing team.

Directors of Nursing should also be confident and think critically, as they regularly make high-level decisions that impact their staff members and the operations of the healthcare facility. The Director of Nursing is in charge of many staff members and must complete multiple tasks at once so having strong time management, organizational and multitasking abilities is important for a strong candidate. 


What's the difference between a Director of Nursing and a Nursing Manager?

Though they’re both leadership roles in charge of a team of Nurses, their responsibilities have a few differences. Nursing Managers are often responsible for one department or unit of Nurses, while Directors of Nursing oversee all nursing teams and the Nursing Managers. If they work in larger facilities, like hospitals, there’s often a Director of Nursing and a few Nursing Managers that they oversee. 

Nursing Managers are in charge of their section of Nurses to ensure they’re following the goals and requirements set forth by both the Nursing Managers and Director of Nursing. The Nursing Managers then report their team’s performance to the Director of Nursing. 


Which work settings do Directors of Nursing usually operate in?

Most Directors of Nursing work in larger healthcare facilities, like hospitals, where there are several Nurses on staff. Others may work in clinics, rehabilitation centers or senior centers, overseeing the operational efforts and functions of each facility. It’s best if the Director of Nursing holds a strong knowledge of the industry they work in. Many Directors of Nursing specialize in a specific type of nursing and work in that specialty for a few years before being promoted as the Director of Nursing.

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