Can I be a DON with no nursing home experience?

  1. I've been an inpatient psychiatric RN for adults and geriatrics for 14 years. I just applied for a DON position at a nursing home. I only have a ASN. Job posting said BSN preferred, but not required. Do you think this is a role I could learn as I go, or do you think I would be way over my head given my lack of nursing home, management and experience with following medicare guidelines? Any tips or information that would help me prepare?
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   NYLady
    It sounds like a very difficult transition!
    Here are my thoughts (for what they are worth):
    1. How much does the nursing home need you? Are you located in an area where they are having problems finding people to even apply for the job?
    2. How big (or small) is the nursing home?
    3. If you have no budgeting experience is the nursing home able to wait until you learn how to make budgeting decisions?
    4. Will you be able to do the resource calculations to decide whether to accept a new resident?
    5. Are you prepared to live a professional life where you must be more concerned about regulations (state and federal) than most nurses need to be?
    6. Are you prepared to have a 24/7 job responsibility?

    I wish you the best of luck and hope you get replys from current or former nursing home DONs to give you some advice based on actual experience with that function!
  4. by   elkpark
    I'm sure there are LTCs that would hire an RN with no LTC experience or management experience to be DON, but they sure wouldn't be doing those nurses any favors.
  5. by   femaleRN
    Thanks for replying! Sounds like I would be very clueless even with the month training they're offering. Sounds like I would need some sort of classes before applying for a position like this. I have no experience in business budgeting or medicare medicaid regulations.
  6. by   NYLady
    You may be "clueless" now but if they really need you and you want to go the "administration" route this may be a doorway. Medicaid/Medicare regulations are learnable and so is budgeting. If you are not in a big city and it is a small nursing home it may work for you.
  7. by   CapeCodMermaid
    You indeed would be way over your head. It's an extremely difficult, stressful job even if you have experience. Without it...you're in the weeds.
  8. by   CoffeeRTC
    Could you or should you? You can do anything you put your heart into, but should you....probably not.
  9. by   femaleRN
    ....lol
  10. by   Peepershops
    WAY over your head! Long term care is a specialty, just like psychiatry. DON is not a job to "learn as you go." You need to have a good working knowledge of long term care nursing and regulatory compliance before even thinking about accepting that position. Start off working as a per diem nurse in a nursing home first to see if it's something you'd like and to get the basics down. I'd be surprised if you were hired as the DON with no long term care experience. But I've worked for big companies and stranger things have happened!
  11. by   amoLucia
    I'm always curious why the last DON left. If there was a 'bad survey', you'd be walking into a holy he!!.

    Of course, there are places that only need a temporary warm body to become the sacrificial lamb later on.
  12. by   caliotter3
    Quote from amoLucia
    I'm always curious why the last DON left. If there was a 'bad survey', you'd be walking into a holy he!!.

    Of course, there are places that only need a temporary warm body to become the sacrificial lamb later on.
    I've seen seasoned LTC DON's go through the revolving doors. It happens in conjunction with the surveys. Experienced or not, prepare yourself for the sacrificial lamb role.
  13. by   amoLucia
    Another thing to consider is how stable the other dept head staff is. I've found that when a facility needs a Soc Worker, Dietary Manager, Housekeeping/Laundry Mgr, Maint, etc that's usually an indicator that the last survey was mucho problematic. And looking for an MDS/RNAC could be a big flag for prospective DONs.

    I also would like to know are you talking 'corporate' chain or an independent facility.

    Bed size?

    To go into NH admin today WITHOUT previous strong LTC experience is NOT something I'd want to even think about for myself!
  14. by   Just.Blessed.RN
    Just accepted my first job in LTC to see if I like it. Also working at the bedside in a hospital, but trying to see where I see myself in the future! Thanks for all the good advice everyone!

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