The pivotal role of the director of nursing in nursing homes

Elena O. Siegel, Christine Mueller, Kathryn L. Anderson, Mary Ellen Dellefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The impending wave of aging boomers heightens long-standing concerns for the quality and cost of nursing home care. As industry and policy leaders continue efforts to remedy substandard nursing home care delivery practices, development of a well-prepared and adequately supported workforce of directors of nursing (DONs) is essential to ensuring the industry's readiness for the aging wave population. Directors of nursing are in pivotal positions to influence nursing home quality and costs; however, research demonstrating the extent of this influence-actual and potential-is lacking, and industry leaders have collectively failed to address the current or future capacity of this workforce. A long history of inattention to the DON position, coupled with low expectations for the competencies and requisite educational preparation, has potentially compromised the capacity of DONs to promote and sustain high-quality, cost-effective nursing home care. The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview and discussion of the current and potential capacity of DONs to lead the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective nursing home care from industry, educational and professional development, healthcare policy, and organizational contexts. Proposed strategies and recommendations to enhance and promote the future capacity of DONs are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-121
Number of pages12
JournalNursing administration quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Nurse administrators
  • Nurse education
  • Nurse managers
  • Nursing home


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