Ask the Nursing Expert about ... DON responsibilities

Angel McGarrity-Davis, RN, CDONA, NHA
Angel McGarrity-Davis, RN, CDONA, NHA

I'm new to long-term care as a director of nursing.  I love the residents that we care for, but it's so hard to manage the surveys, ombudsman, Department of Health, etc. The hours are more than a normal job. How do I keep going?

You start by seeing your job as a blessing every day to care for the geriatric population and those with chronic diseases. Long-term care is a 24/7 business that requires a lot of a DON's time and attention. Your responsibility is to provide your residents with the best quality of care and life, along with their families and other staff who care for the residents. 

Focus on the big picture: How do you want to be remembered, and what legacy do you want to leave? This will help keep you focused on the bigger picture of what's at stake. When I am faced with challenges and stress, I try to focus on teaching and inspiring others, especially my team members. I want to challenge them to be the best they can be and empower them to overcome all obstacles of their life, including showing them how to achieve a manageable work/life balance.

Have you ever heard of the saying “It comes from the top?” It actually does. No matter what kind of day you might be having, you have to fake it until you make it. Be the example your team can learn from, not by just your clinical knowledge, but also by your life's wisdom. 

One of my favorite motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar, says, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Empower your team to be all they are meant to be. Care about each individual, know their names, birthdays, and about their family. Lift up the team members you lead. Inspire and motivate them to be better than they ever thought possible. This WILL keep you going!