Need to Hire a Director of Nursing? Step-Up Your Game!

As Americans 65 and older continue to grow in number, the demand for senior living healthcare services tailored to their special needs is rising significantly. This heightened demand requires a large workforce of qualified senior care professionals.


Recruiting and retaining senior living / long-term care industry healthcare professionals is currently a challenge especially when it comes to Directors of Nursing. That can be attributed to a number of factors, including:


-Pandemic. The pandemic led to the exit of many Directors of Nursing due to burnout from increased workloads, high stress environments, emotional toll, safety concerns and retirement.

Workload & Responsibilities. Directors of Nursing often feel an overload with multi-faceted responsibilities, including overseeing patient care, managing staff, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and implementing training and quality improvements.

Morale Distress. A Director of Nursing can suffer morale distress when there’s a lack of autonomy and too many organizational constraints including lack of resources, inadequate staff levels, time pressures, etc.

Competitive Market. The senior living / long-term care industry is very competitive with many organizations vying for the same experienced Directors of Nursing.

Regulatory Compliance Updates. Senior living and long-term care communities must adhere to strict regulatory requirements, and Directors of Nursing must ensure compliance adding to the complexity of the role.

Location. The availability of qualified Directors of Nursing can vary greatly depending on geographical locations.  For example, rural areas may face greater challenges in recruiting and retaining them due to factors such as isolation or less than adequate staff and resources. Also, location will have an effect on salary and benefits.


Is your organization looking to recruit a Director of Nursing? Below is the bare minimum of what you’ll need to offer for a Director of Nursing to even look your way. This may attract them but not necessarily be enough to hire or retain them:


-Work-Life Balance & Flexibility:
A healthy work/life balance and flexibility with schedules is essential for job satisfaction. This allows Directors of Nursing to manage their responsibilities at work while also having time for their family and self-care.

Autonomy in Role:
Directors of Nursing prefer roles that give them the ability to make decisions related to nursing policies, procedures, and patient care strategy.

 -Competitive Compensation & Benefits
Competitive salaries and robust benefits that reflect their experience are expected.

Supportive Work Environment:
A supportive and collaborative culture is highly valued. This type of work environment enables them to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to achieve the community’s goals.

Professional Development:
Continuous learning and growth opportunities through training, workshops, and conferences are crucial to stay up to date with industry trends and best practices.

Resources & Tools:

Directors of Nursing need necessary resources such as the latest technology and enough hands to help them deliver high quality patient care.

Recognition & Appreciation:
Directors of Nursing just like other professionals, need to be recognized for their contributions, achievements, and dedication to improving the community, leadership team, and patient care.


While the above list could capture the attention of a Director of Nursing, it’s just a start.  As recruiters exclusive to the Senior Living Industry, we are often asked about the best ways not only to attract them but also ensure they accept an offer and stay long-term.


Our advice is to step up your game! You must meet the evolving needs of today’s Directors of Nursing. That means presenting perks and programs over and above what you’ve offered in the past and more than your competition.


What’s very enticing to today’s Directors of Nursing?


-Significant Sign-On Bonus:

A substantial sign-on bonus is a strategic move to attract Directors of Nursing in a challenging and competitive market. This is an immediate financial benefit to the DON upon accepting the position.

Creating Own Schedule:

The senior living industry with its round-the-clock demands, often presents challenges to Directors of Nursing seeking a balanced work-life dynamic. Recognizing and addressing these challenges is crucial for your organization.  Allow DONs to create their own flexible work arrangements. Be flexible when it comes to schedules. Be open to a 4-day work week.

Health & Well-Being Programs:

Find ways to reduce stress and burnout such as offering additional breaks during the day and access to wellness resources such as nutrition counseling. In addition, provide confidential counseling services and mental health awareness and workshops.

Performance Bonuses:

Monetary bonuses tied to performance metrics and patient feedback can motivate Directors of Nursing to consistently deliver their best plus stay on the job. Beyond monetary rewards, recognition programs that celebrate achievements can foster a sense of pride and belonging.

Retirement Benefits:

Offering robust retirement plans, such as 401(k) with matching contributions, signals the long-term commitment your organization has for their staff.  It ensures that while Directors of Nursing dedicate their careers to leading the nursing staff, organizational initiatives, and patient care, their own future and financial well-being is also being looked after.

Latest Technology:

Advanced technology such as EHR, telemedicine platforms, patient monitoring devices, and AI can help to streamline the processes, enhance data accuracy, improve communication among teams and improve overall operational efficiency within the organization, leads to a better patient care outcome which is a priority for Directors of Nursing.

Relocation Assistance:

Relocation support and housing assistance to join your organization is a must. Offering financial assistance to cover the high cost of moving helps to facilitate a smooth transition for a Director of Nursing and their family. In addition, by assisting with relocation, it shows your strong commitment to bring them aboard. In return, this fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty from the Director of Nursing.

On Going Support & Resources:

Onboarding shouldn’t be viewed as a one-time event. Offering continuous support, resources, and check-ins during the initial months can ensure that your new Director of Nursing feels supported as they navigate their roles.

Growth Opportunities with Reimbursement:

Financial support and tuition reimbursement is attractive to Directors of Nursing who want to advance their career by obtaining advanced degrees such as an MSN or specialty certifications.

Interim Coverage For Helping Hand:

Many organizations offer their Director of Nursing an Interim talent solution when a helping hand is needed. Interims can take on roles and project work for short periods of time without a long-term commitment.

Additional Perks:

An additional perk like childcare support can make a significant difference. It can enhance the overall employee experience and contribute to a Directors of Nursing’s well-being, job satisfaction, and retention within the organization.

Be Creative:

The sky’s the limit when it comes to attractive perks & benefits for Directors of Nursing. Some organizations are offering extra PTO, extended leave, parental leave, sabbatical leave, etc.  It’s important to differentiate your organization from competitors.


Attracting, recruiting, and retaining Directors of Nursing present significant challenges today. Senior care organizations must navigate these challenges strategically by implementing new and creative offerings as well as a positive work culture and supportive environment.  However, you don’t need to go it alone!  Reach out to our expert DON recruiters…We’re here to help!


Contact MedBest at 727-526-1294 / /



Julie Rupenski is the Founder & CEO of MedBest Recruiting. Since opening its doors in 2001, Julie has grown MedBest into an award winning, multimillion-dollar national firm, garnering impressive awards including Top 20 Executive Search Firm 2024, Top Interim Services Provider 2023, INC 5000 2021 and Tampa Bay Fast 50 2021!  In addition, Julie was named as one of the “Top 100 Women Leaders in Tampa 2022″ by Women We Admire.


MedBest has gained national recognition due to Julie’s industry expertise and high level of success. Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the senior living / long term care industry.  She previously worked in operations for both senior housing and senior living prior to founding MedBest. Today, Julie and her industry-savvy team of recruiters, make it their mission to place exceptional industry executives in senior living positions where they have the greatest impact. Contact Julie at


MedBest is an award-winning national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living / Long Term Care Industry. For more than two decades, we have connected senior living / long term care organizations with exceptional senior living executive talent for both permanent and interim roles. MedBest was named as a  Top 20 Executive Search Firm and Top 10 Interim Services Provider! In addition, we were one of American’s top companies by Inc.5000 and a Tampa Fast 50 Company in 2021! MedBest is a member of the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS), National Investment Center for Senior House (NIC), and American Staffing Association (ASA). Contact MedBest at 727-526-1294.

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