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An Effective ASC Director of Nursing: 3 Attributes to Look For

Carla ShehataWhile there are far more than three necessary attributes that an effective director of nursing must possess, below are three of the qualities that I find to be of particular importance.


An effective DON must be self-motivated in many ways:

•    He or she must take action to stay educated on rules and regulations from states, the federal government, and accrediting bodies.
•    The DON must be able to sustain an energetic and positive personal attitude to foster a positive organizational culture.
•    A DON must seek to continually grow in leadership, communication, and clinical skill for the surgery center to improve in efficiency


An ASC is like an orchestra: each individual may work well on his or her own, but only working as one can they produce a true masterpiece. A DON is to the ASC what the director is to an orchestra: he or she pulls everyone together to work as one.

DONs perform a number of tasks daily to facilitate collaboration in the ASC:

•    Organizing physician surgery schedules
•    Creating staffing schedules that match the skill of the staff member to the needs of the physician and patient
•    Ensuring the right equipment and the right medications and supplies are available

Collaboration with the ASC team also requires excellent communication skills. The effective DON must be able to efficiently communicate with the administrator, physicians, staff, vendors, patients and their families. Collaboration is not an attribute that the efficient ASC can be without.


Staying organized in the DON role requires the individual to be an organized thinker. There are so many things to organize and maintain within the surgery center, including policies and procedures, logs, rules and regulations, schedules, hiring, rewarding, disciplining, employee files, and staff and committee meetings.

If the DON is not organized, the entire surgery center is at risk of being chaotic and an unsatisfying place to work for both staff and physicians. This can cause high staff turnover that can consume a large portion of the center's budget. To guard against this scenario, an effective director of nursing must possess outstanding organization skills.

These three attributes are usually a fundamental part of who a person is and although they can be grown with experience, training, and mentoring, they are usually not skills that can be learned. Therefore, it is imperative that these attributes are identified in candidates during the interview process.

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