AAPACN is dedicated to supporting post-acute care nurses provide quality care.

The Qualities and Skills of a Successful Director of Nursing Services

To be a successful director of nursing services (DNS) in a nursing home today and to lead staff in the very important mission to provide the best care possible for our nation’s elderly, there are a few very important qualities and skills that you’ll need to do your job well.

For success in the DNS role, the qualities that will be most helpful are the following:

  • Dedicated, Passionate, and Driven – It’s important to always be dedicated to the mission, to your staff, and to leading with purpose. You should be passionate about your role and driven to always look for improvement. Your drive will keep you going in the difficult times, and it will be an example to staff to keep going as well.
  • Patient – There will be several situations that will require you to be calm and collected, especially when dealing with difficult families or surveyors when they come into the building.
  • Dependable and Consistent – Your team is going to count on you for direction, to be there when times get tough, and they’ll expect you to hold everyone accountable equally.
  • Appreciative – You will need to recognize your team regularly for their successes, and to show appreciation in different ways.
  • Respectful – You will be managing team members of different skill levels, backgrounds, and personalities and must show respect for each person and their role.
  • Flexible – The only thing constant in long-term care is change, so it’s important to be flexible. New regulations and reporting expectations occur every year and you must keep up with them.

To be a successful DNS, it also takes the following skills:

  • Organization – There is so much to keep track of as a DNS, so good organizational skills are a must. You will need to utilize calendars, lists, planners, tools, and other organizational tools to keep yourself on task daily.
  • Delegation – You cannot do it all, so you will need to know and be confident in assigning tasks to others to ensure the success of your team.
  • Stress Management – The DNS’s job isn’t always easy and stress can build up if you don’t have the skills to manage it.
  • Listening – An essential leadership skill that all DNSs should have, being a good listener will help you problem solve, establish a better relationship your team, and foster trust.
  • Inspiration – Your team will need you to guide them and inspire them to become the best nurses they can be and to achieve the goals you set out for them.

If you are looking for a career path that will be challenging, but incredibly rewarding, and you possess the above qualities and skills, then a career path to becoming a DNS may be for you. Learn more about becoming a DNS.

Are you an AAPACN member who is hiring a new DNS or other team member? Check out AAPACN’s Interview Template Tool designed to help nurse leaders customize and evaluate candidates on desired characteristics and talents, based on the specific needs of the role, and provides behavioral-based questions to ask the candidate.