I'm the DON for a 42-bed ALF, and I have an associate's degree. I've had to learn management the hard way---by doing it (and making a ton of mistakes along the way). But this is not a job for a new grad, even though I know some places will hire any warm body with RN or LPN behind her/his name.........you need top-notch assessment skills, a keen interest in the population you're working with, and a whole lot of what my mother used to call "horse sense".
I'm sorry, but the average new grad is too busy learning the mechanics of nursing to notice, let alone appreciate, the subtle clues that something is about to hit the fan with a resident in a community-based care setting. I was once a new grad too, and even though I'd had a lot of life experience when I started out as a nurse, I didn't really start picking up on the little things until I'd been in the profession for a couple of years or so. (That's not in the least unusual; it takes a long time to get comfortable in this job.) But it's also why new grads do NOT belong in LTC or ALF as the chief (or ONLY) nurse---there's often no one to bounce things off, no one to tell you you're making a mess of things...........until the state walks in the door!
Being an ALF nurse isn't just sitting behind a desk writing service plans and directing caregivers. Sometimes when I get home at night, I'm so exhausted, all I can do is fall into bed at 8 PM so I can get up at 5:30 AM and do it all over again for another eight or ten or twelve hours. I'm responsible for the lives and health of 42 residents, as well as staff development, training, continuing education, and discipline. And that's only a small part of the job---I'm also an assistant administrator, teacher, consultant, community liaison, tour guide, HR director, secretary, Mother Confessor to both staff and residents, and all-around answer woman!
And I wouldn't have it any other way. But I wouldn't recommend this type of job to anyone without several years of floor experience and superb assessment skills........it's a hard job under the best of circumstances, and utterly impossible if you don't have a good foundation built before you start.