Long-Term Care Nursing implicates a variety of services designed to help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own. It is a truly relationship-based style of nursing, which sets it apart from most professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for long-term care nurses is foreseen to rise dramatically as the baby boomer generation ages.
If you’re a healthcare professional who feels the pace of your job and workplace don’t give you enough time to grow the relationships you’d like with patients, long-term care nursing might be the career for you.
What Is a Long-Term Care Nurse?
A long-term care nurse is a skilled nursing professional dedicated to caring for patients who require extended nursing care and personal care. This includes patients with chronic illnesses or injuries, who do not have the resources or support to be cared for at home and need to be in a long term care facility. Long-Term Care Nursing is a growing field and the number of positions for long-term care nurses is expected to rise dramatically over the next decade. By becoming a long-term care nurse, you will become a part of a growing field of skilled nursing professionals with a career that is both steady and rewarding.
In an LTC setting, you care for patients who are admitted anywhere from a couple of weeks to months or even years; many patients live in these long term care facilities permanently or indefinitely. Because of that, LTC nurses are able to form and build long-term relationships and bonds while caring for their residents at the same time. In this setting, you are able to see the long-term results of health care and rehabilitation, get to know patients on a much more personal level, and become a caring part of their day-to-day life. It is crucial to keep in mind that patients in long-term care experience high fatality rates due to the serious nature of their illness or injuries, so you must be emotionally mature enough to cope with the death of patients with whom you form bonds.
What Does a Long-Term Care Nurse Do?
While the duties of long-term care nurses depend on the type of healthcare facility and definitive patient needs, they spend much of their workday coordinating and assessing patient care with an entire team of medical professionals including doctors, social workers, physical therapists, case managers, and certified nursing assistants.
These duties include:
- Implementing comprehensive patient care plans with medical and clinical staff
- Providing specialized treatments for progressive and chronic conditions
- Recording vital signs and administering medications
- Operating medical equipment, monitoring and assessing patient status, and recording patient information in medical records
- Assisting patients with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing
- Offering education, emotional support, and guidance to patients, families, and caregivers
Where Do Long-Term Care Nurses Work?
LTC nurses have a variety of employment opportunities available in various work environments such as rehabilitation centers, hospices, and home health settings.
Facilities that serve the elderly, patients with disabilities, and those suffering from chronic or terminal conditions rank among the top employers of long-term care nurses.
These facilities may include:
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
- Home care agencies
- Memory care, Alzheimer’s, and dementia facilities
- Long Term Acute Care (people with chronic ventilators that require close monitoring with the stress of the acute care setting)
How to Become a Long-Term Care Nurse
First, it’s a requirement that you complete a nursing program and have attained licensure. For this reason, a person who wishes to become a long-term care nurse will often start their career by becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). After you’ve completed a program, passed the NCLEX, and earned a license to practice in your state, you have the qualifications you need to kick start your career in LTC. If you are a travel nurse looking to provide skilled nursing care in multiple states, you may benefit from learning about a compact nursing license and can find out more on how to get a compact nursing license.
You may also choose to continue your education by enrolling in continuing education programs that focus on long-term medical care or gerontological nursing. Certification in long-term care nursing is recommended by the American Association for Long-Term Care Nursing (AALTCN) and any registered nurse working in a hospital setting can transition fairly easily to LTC nursing. To sit for the certification exam, you will need to complete one of their certification programs, including study materials and a certification examination.
Long-Term Care Nursing is different from most healthcare jobs, as it’s a truly relationship-based model of nursing that offers considerable personal and professional rewards, including competitive compensation and employment stability. If you are looking for a gratifying career that allows you to form close relationships and provide care through many phases of a patients healing journey, and possess character traits such as emotional stability, empathy, information retention, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving skills, then you’ve met your career match.
Do you think you may be interested in the field of Long Term Care? Speak with one of our experienced recruiters today, and MAS will help match you with a career that’s right for you!
Ashley Chancellor, RN, Nurse Recruiter: Ashley is a retired travel nurse with over eight years of travel experience and 10yrs as an ICU nurse. After working through COVID, she decided to take a much-needed step away from the bedside to explore other avenues and found herself on the recruiting side of things. Ashley is a transplant from Pittsburgh, PA, to Tucson, AZ, where she loves hiking, writing, traveling, fishing, cooking, and cheering other nurses on as they go after their travel dreams!