Professional Support and Acknowledgement for Directors of Nursing | Monica Shaw, RN | RxEconsult

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Where do Directors of Nursing Find Professional Support and Acknowledgement Category: Nursing by - August 3, 2013 | Views: 20355 | Likes: 0 | Comment: 0  

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Being a Director of Nursing (DON) is a great and rewarding job that, let’s face it, only a few can do. On the days when things run smoothly, there’s no code blue, brown (emergency or disaster) or any other color and the ‘to do list’ gets done, you feel proud and in control.

On the other hand those days when things turn to the proverbial and you know you need to focus and get through it, you may for a second question your career choice. It seems like you’re not only fire fighting, gleaning explanations, patching up, but also taking care of the wounded, and no one remembers to thank you for it. After all “isn’t that your job!”

I agree with my professional network colleagues, The MORDUN Group, when they say “the Nursing Executives are the driving cogs within an organization.”

It got me thinking: Where do directors of nursing find professional support and acknowledgement? I scratch my head and think, but I cannot come to a quick and decent answer.  Could it be a range of things, perhaps:

  • A chat with a colleague?
  • Another DON?
  • A trusted staff member?
  • Your PA or if you are lucky your CEO.

Sure, there may be courses that build resilience and toughen the exterior, but really who is there every day, day after day saying "I feel you did a great job today.  How do you feel it went?" 

Some DON’s have coaches to help them decompress, which is fantastic. I believe DONs need to make time for this.  Unlike clinical nurses with ratios, there is no ratio for DON’s, no actual parameters for the workload and furthermore, the work is often invisible yet has a pivotal impact on others.

I have come to the conclusion that DON’s need a better deal. In fact they need care too; professional development for busy people, reflection time with a mentor or coach to review handling situations and perhaps an opportunity for professional critique and acknowledgement of quality performance. To make support really meaningful through DON’s identifying what they need, DONs need more forums to consciously speak  up and speak out.  So here is my friendly challenge: What do you think a DON needs to be supported? 

About the Author

Monica Shaw is a nurse on a mission to support clinicians to achieve their professional best. Monica can be contacted at


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