DON position...great opportunity, or career suicide?

  1. Hi all.....after 22 years of diverse nursing experience, I am thinking of taking a DON position at a gorgeous 146-bed SNF near my home. I recently graduated with my MBA in Healthcare Management, which is why they called me for an interview in spite of my very sparse LTC experience (I did ADON/MDS for a couple of years MANY moons ago).

    I am also interviewing for management positions in my current company, but really have no idea whether they are going to pan out or not. I am very qualified for these positions, but the division I work in is very cliquish. I work for a HUGE Fortune 50 health insurance company as a case manager. I have never been in love with my job, but I have been able to work from home so I've tolerated it. Right now I am kind of hating it, and am trying to move up the ranks and get out from under my oppressive director.

    I have never known a masters-prepared nurse to be DON of a LTC facility in my area. I wonder if I am over-educated for this position and will I not be able to meet my earning potential if I take the DON job. I mean, will I be pigeonholed into DON jobs for the rest of my career?

    With my technical abilities, MBA, and decades of nursing experience I know that I have the potential to make a lot of money one day. The DON position to me feels like a great way to get that "director" on my resume and round out my experience a little more. However I'm concerned that I might get stuck in that position and hurt my potential for growth in the future.

    Any insight is appreciated.
    Last edit by cosmicmama on Apr 27
    •  
  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   CapeCodMermaid
    I'm not sure how much you think you should be making.
    You have very little experience in long term care and the DON is not an easy position. It's all consuming if you do it correctly so if you don't like what you're doing, you'll burn out quickly. It's not the type of job to take just to have on your resume. Just my 2 cents worth and since I've been a DON for 10+ years, my 2 cents is worth at least that
    Last edit by CapeCodMermaid on Apr 30 : Reason: typos
  4. by   caliotter3
    Where I used to live, the LTC facilities were, at one time, a meat grinder for management staff. One Director, who had a PhD, got that position when she was told "you're it" when the previous DON walked off the job. In no time at all the State came in on a special investigation in addition to their regular visit. The woman writhed in place until she could take no more, then she, too, resigned. Nobody was surprised. Just make certain you are not walking into a devil's bed of problems. That would probably not be beneficial to you and would not be worth the aggravation.
  5. by   Orca
    My experience has been that LTC DONs generally don't last very long in the position. It is a revolving door. You are basically responsible for everything on the nursing end - including covering for vacant positions and people who call in by working it yourself. These places tend to underpay, so they are always short of staff.

    I worked in one LTC place for 90 days and I was under four DONs. I was the only RN on a 120-bed unit on my shift, and during the first six weeks I was also passing meds on a 40-bed hallway because we were short an LPN.
  6. by   cosmicmama
    Thanks all, I declined the offer. It seemed like a great facility with happy staff, but my gut was telling me not to do it. Appreciate the words.
  7. by   Just.Blessed.RN
    Wow, what an eye opener! I just accepted my first position (PRN) in a LTC/rehab facility and I wondered how much education the DON job needed. I have 2 years of bedside MedSurg experience that I am still building upon. I have always been afraid of management in these type of facilities due to being forced to be on call and the salary pay. Are there any LCT/rehab facilities that don't require upper management to cover shifts?
  8. by   DawnadonRN
    I just got the position of ADON at a LTC facility. I have an associates degree in nursing. Our previous DON was in that position for 16 years before taking a different position. We are currently short staffed but we do not have to fill in for call ins unless we just want to

close