Should I take a risky DON position?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,
    I have worked as a correctional LVN, RN, Supervising RN, and DON of a prison as well as acute care nursing. At my last facility I was the DON and loved my job until the CNE changed. She didn't like my previous CNE, spoke poorly of her, was vindictive, and treated staff like dogs. Not to air all of her dirty laundry but she had terrible people skills, language skills, you name it!

    After 3 weeks we were scheduled to carpool to a conference (because she wouldn't authorize me to drive my own car) and one day before we were leaving she told me she booked herself a flight but "it is good you are driving so when you get there you can pick me up at the airport."

    I quit and took a management job outside of the government while waiting to apply to state positions (to keep my retirement etc.). I am now in a wonderful position near Yosemite as a supervisor but have been offered a DON position (I was recruited, I didn't apply) in a much less desirable area. I don't want to reject their offer because these types of opportunities don't come around very often (there are only 43 spots in all of California).
    I do intend to promote eventually but I am a bit concerned after my last experience. I am finishing my PMHNP right now and already have a lot on my plate. What should I do??? Thanks for any help you can offer.

    Dear Should I Take a Risky DON Position,

    You're currently a manager and love your job and location but you have the opportunity to be a DON in a less desirable area.

    It's not uncommon to advance your career by accepting your first DON position in a smaller facility and less attractive area. Once you have 2 years in, you can apply to other DON positions in other areas.

    You've had a negative experience in your prior DON role, and yes, that could happen again. When you interview, ask questions about turnover, and leadership support to gauge the environment. Reach out to your network and see if any of your contacts have any input on the organization.

    It's a question of risk, values (is where you live highly important?) and your ultimate career goals.You are in school for your NP, do you plan to practice or remain in leadership?

    Best wishes on your decision.

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,406; Likes: 4,209