Managing Up, Down, and Across the Nursing Home: Roles and Responsibilities of Directors of Nursing

Elena O Siegel, Heather M Young, Michael C. Leo, Vanessa Santillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The director of nursing (DON) is an essential member of the top management team in nursing homes and in a key position to improve the quality and value of care. This article describes and examines the roles and responsibilities of DONs as perceived by a convenience sample of current/previous DONs and nursing home administrators (n = 29). Data were collected through in-depth semistructured interviews and analyzed using content analysis and thematic analysis. The findings reveal a broad scope and wide variation in the DON position across settings, with inextricable linkages between clinical care and other aspects of care delivery, such as managing fiscal and human resources (HR). As RN licensure is the only Federal requirement for the DON position, suggesting a clinical focus, the findings highlight a policy-practice gap. Research is needed to address this gap, focusing on the requisite preparation DONs need to effectively and cost-efficiently lead initiatives for quality improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-223
Number of pages10
JournalPolicy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • directors of nursing
  • nursing education
  • nursing home
  • nursing management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Leadership and Management
  • Medicine(all)


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