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Tips on Being an Effective Director of Nursing

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The nursing industry is one filled with professionals who have a true passion for what is often a stressful job. A nursing director is not only responsible for absorbing much of the stress from staff, but also for finding ways to continue to educate, encourage and motivate nurses. To be an effective director of nursing, you must be available, understanding, knowledgeable, professional and a skilled leader.

Impart Knowledge to Subordinates

One of the things that makes for an effective director of nursing is to let staff know you are as knowledgeable about the field as they are. Since most directors spend a great deal of time at a desk doing paperwork and attending meetings, the staff members who work underneath them can feel they are out of touch with patient care. Being an effective director of nursing means getting in the trenches with other nurses from time to time and taking a shift working with patients. This not only keeps you in practice with the latest in industry trends and procedures, but also lets your staff know you are still knowledgeable about the core principals of the nursing profession.

Don't Shy Away From Showing Compassion for Staff and Patients

An effective leader in any profession has the ability to show compassion to staff, which is particularly important in the often tough field of nursing. Develop comfortable but professional relationships with your staff and maintain an open-door policy. Encourage them to speak with you about any troubles they may have in their position or when they just need to unload after a particularly stressful shift. Try to relate, and as a director of nursing, make sure the right resources are in place in your department to support your nurses and discourage burn-out.

Motivate and Encourage Staff

The most effective directors of nursing understand the need to motivate and encourage staff members. After all, nursing can be a difficult job, particularly nurses working in critical-care situations. By fostering a caring, close-knit team environment among staff and nursing management, your department will run more smoothly and efficiently. Get creative when it comes to motivating staff, incorporating contests, bonuses, gatherings and more. Keeping morale high is the key to cultivating a happy, motivated, diligent nursing staff.


Lynda Moultry Belcher is a writer, editor and public relations professional. She worked for a daily newspaper for 10 years and has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She has contributed to Divorce360 and Revolution Health Group, among other publications. She is also the author of "101 Plus-Size Women's Clothing Tips" and writes "Style At Any Size," a bi-weekly newspaper column.

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