Is a DON position realisitic?

  1. I'm in my last semester of nursing school, so I should have my RN by the end of the year. I am seriously interested in trying to get a DON position for some underperforming LTCF in the Nashville, TN area after I graduate. I would like some feedback on whether or not this is realistic. Everytime I look at the Tennessean, it seems that two or three nursing homes are looking for a DON. I worked in a nursing home for 3.5 years, spending half of my day in restorative and the other half as acting secretary to the DON and ADON. I am very familiar with the headaches and the stress that goes with the job, and have tried to prepare myself appropriately. I took surveyor training online from CMS and have done extensive research on recruiting and managing frontline staff, not just techs but LPNs as well. I go to every seminar I can on LTC topics, have taken MDS training, and have been an active participant in conference calls from the state's QIO and from our Eden Alternative coalition office. I would like to institute culture change very slowly and *try* to find ways for the entire staff to work smarter, instead of harder. My former bosses said I needed to make policy instead of enforce it, and I have been told that I have no business being a staff nurse given my extra training. What do you guys think about my prospects? How likely do you think it would be that a nursing home would be willing to consider a new grad, considering my extra training? Thanks.
  2. Visit mattseviernd profile page

    About mattseviernd

    Joined: Jan '06; Posts: 1

    17 Comments

  3. by   Nascar nurse
    Quote from mattseviernd
    What do you guys think about my prospects? How likely do you think it would be that a nursing home would be willing to consider a new grad, considering my extra training? Thanks.
    Training vs actual experience.. hum?? Training is very important, but experience counts a whole lot too. My personal opinion, you would be much better off with actual experience on the floor for at least 6-12 months prior to even thinking about taking on a DON position.
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    As a nurse who's been on both sides of a desk, I think people in general take direction better from those who have "walked the walk" before they "talk the talk". In other words, you need to work that floor and get a couple of years' experience under your belt so that you understand what can and cannot be accomplished out there, given the staff and patients and equipment and time you have to work with. There is nothing worse than working for someone who has no clue what it's like in the trenches; for one thing, they rarely (if ever) are willing to help out when the going gets tough because they don't have the skills, and for another, they tend to overestimate how much work people can handle because they lack practical knowledge of the way things get done.

    JMHO.
  5. by   RN34TX
    Quote from mjlrn97
    they tend to overestimate how much work people can handle because they lack practical knowledge of the way things get done. JMHO.
    So true.
    Even managers who've been in the trenches can quickly forget how big of a workload one nurse can handle once the temptation sets in to trim the budget and get fewer staff to take on more work.

    To the OP: Your staff will see right through you and your lack of experience as a nurse will be very obvious to them. You don't want that as a nursing leader.

    However, as the years go by for you as an RN, I would think that your experience as a nurse combined with your other training and experience would make you a great and highly qualified DON.

    Good luck to you.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I'm a firm believer if a person is to be a director of nursing, they should have nursing experience first, to know what they will be directing.
  7. by   llg
    I agree with the posters above. I am also reminded me of an experience I had with a "head hunter" when I was graduating with my MSN.

    At the time, I had only 2 years of staff nurse experience ... and this head hunter was trying to talk me into interviewing for a position of Assistant Director of Nursing at a large university hospital. I told her I wasn't qualified for such a high level job, but she kept pushing. She would say things like, "Give it a try. You never know. You might get lucky and get the job!"

    In frustration, I finally said ... "I wouldn't want to work for anyone stupid enough to give me that job." That ended it.

    What I said that day is something that most nurses should take into consideration as they job hunt. The goal is not to get the "highest level job" possible, but rather to get the "best fit" possible in a good envirnment. As a new grad, you will need to make a critical transition in your career -- the transition to being a professional nurse. You need to make that transition first before you try to be a nursing leader.

    Good luck to you. It sounds as if you have some good experiences in your background that can be of great benefit to you. But like the other posters, I think you should become a "real nurse" first before you try to lead nurses and direct their work.

    llg
  8. by   CapeCodMermaid
    I am in total agreement with the others. I've been in long term care for years and have had every job there is to have as a nurse...and I am just stepping up to the DNS job. You can't really manage people unless you know what they have to do during the course of their day. Lots of the nurses in my facility love to say "You don't know what it's like"...well, yes I do. I've been a staff nurse with 30 subacute patients of my own. I've been a nurse manager on a LTC and subacute unit. I've been the nursing supervisor, the PPS/MDS coordinator, and the assistant DNS. Training outside the real world of LTC will not prepare you for what's in store as a DNS or ADNS or Supervisor.
  9. by   txspadequeenRN
    As a LTC nurse I am going to agree 100% with the other posters. If you are going into a nursing home that is screaming for a DON you may be in for more than you bargain for. You maybe coming into the possiblty of no staff , angry law suit families and the state knocking at your door. In order to get facilities like these back on track you need first hand experience floor operations , staffing and dealing with state inspecters. If a corporation even considered a new grad for the position as DON that is your first clue something is wrong. They are just looking for a RN license to take the heat and there you would be. If this is something that interest you go to work as a floor nurse and then you can see whats really behind the curtains. Sniff it out before you take the plunge.. There is a reason that DON's come and go , it very well may be that the nurse is not suitable for the job but it also could be that the Job is way to overwhelming and a high liablility for the nurse.
  10. by   futurecrnatobe
    Quote from mattseviernd
    i'm in my last semester of nursing school, so i should have my rn by the end of the year. i am seriously interested in trying to get a don position for some underperforming ltcf in the nashville, tn area after i graduate. i would like some feedback on whether or not this is realistic. everytime i look at the tennessean, it seems that two or three nursing homes are looking for a don. i worked in a nursing home for 3.5 years, spending half of my day in restorative and the other half as acting secretary to the don and adon. i am very familiar with the headaches and the stress that goes with the job, and have tried to prepare myself appropriately. i took surveyor training online from cms and have done extensive research on recruiting and managing frontline staff, not just techs but lpns as well. i go to every seminar i can on ltc topics, have taken mds training, and have been an active participant in conference calls from the state's qio and from our eden alternative coalition office. i would like to institute culture change very slowly and *try* to find ways for the entire staff to work smarter, instead of harder. my former bosses said i needed to make policy instead of enforce it, and i have been told that i have no business being a staff nurse given my extra training. what do you guys think about my prospects? how likely do you think it would be that a nursing home would be willing to consider a new grad, considering my extra training? thanks.
    i would say go for it if that is your call in the nursing field. sometimes challenges or risks make people stronger and better leaders. i understand that what is usually normal and acceptable in nursing leadership is that people should have experience in any field before holding a higher position, but not everyone is inclined to follow the same path of career sequence. some people are fast learners and good leaders and others are slow learners and good leaders, while others are fast/slow learners but bad leaders. the same goes for people with experience, some people can have the experience but will not utilize it very well and others will. therefore, nursing experience does not always count when it comes to producing good results in the current business orientated health sector.
    i believe that the most important things in leadership is; taking calculated risks that are accompanied by strong courage and ambitions. while it is important to gain insight from people with experience, it is also important to learn, ask, and understand in details why they say it not advisable for a new nursing graduate to hold such a position.
    to be honest with you, these are some of the issues in nursing today. some nursing professionals are not encouraging the young ones to take chances and exhibit new ideas about what can be done differently in the nursing field. it is important that as professionals, we should welcome and embrace new and ambitious nurses, who are willing to modify what has been done decades or centuries before to what should be done now.
    it appears you are preparing yourself so well and you have learnt something by working with a don already. please follow your dreams; do not be intimated by anything or anyone. good luck.
  11. by   southern_rn_brat
    I'm in agreement with the other nurses that say you need experience first. Every DON I've ever had has worked in almost every position there is in a facility.

    You cant learn how to be a DON in seminars.
  12. by   Simplepleasures
    I truly dont mean to be rude here, BUT GIVE ME A BREAK!! This is the LAST thing that the nursing staff would need a nurse who has NEVER worked on the floor, yikes.
  13. by   brendamyheart
    Quote from RN34TX
    So true.
    Even managers who've been in the trenches can quickly forget how big of a workload one nurse can handle once the temptation sets in to trim the budget and get fewer staff to take on more work.

    To the OP: Your staff will see right through you and your lack of experience as a nurse will be very obvious to them. You don't want that as a nursing leader.

    However, as the years go by for you as an RN, I would think that your experience as a nurse combined with your other training and experience would make you a great and highly qualified DON.

    Good luck to you.
    I am a unit manager. Thank God I will never forget what it was like to work in the trenches, I will help the floor nurses were ever I can.
  14. by   banditrn
    After 6 months in LTC, I have a few ideas of what I would do if I were a DON, but I have nowhere near the knowledge and experience that it would take at this time to REALLY do justice to the job - and by the time I do, I'll be ready for the 'home' myself.

    They don't just need to have NURSING experience, but GOOD, proven leadership skills - plus there are SO many rules and regs anymore that it gives me a headache.

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