The Job Outlook for Registered Nurses Looking to Work in Long Term Care
Registered Nurses (RNs) take on a number of duties as part of their everyday job. They not only provide patient care, but are also responsible for coordinating this care, and they are often asked to educate their patients and families about the individual’s health condition. Furthermore, there are times when a Registered Nurse is asked to educate the public about different health concerns. A nurse working in Long-Term Care or a nursing home job will often be required to advise their patients and families while offering emotional support during difficult times.
Although most people associate long-term care patients with the elderly, Registered Nurses in this field work with individuals of every age. Anyone with a chronic disease, such as hypothyroidism, hypertension or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, may need care from a long-term care or nursing home RN. The same is true of individuals with a progressive disease like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.
Duties of a Registered Nurse in Long Term Care
Nurses often take on recording a patient’s medical history and any symptoms that they are experiencing. This assists the nurse when he or she is asked to set up a care plan for the patient or contribute to a plan that is already in place. To make this task easier, the nurse observes the patient and records information regarding his or her behavior, health and more. If a Registered Nurse in this type of setting works as part of a larger medical team, he or she will also be charged with consulting and collaborating with other professionals in the healthcare industry, including physicians.
Furthermore, nurses administer medications and treatments for their patients. They operate and monitor any medical equipment that is used as part of the patient’s care and will often carry out diagnostic tests and analyze any results to share with the medical team.
Registered Nurses work in a variety of settings and are the largest occupation in the healthcare industry. A Registered Nurse interested in working in nursing homes or Long-Term Care may find a position in a home healthcare agency, a physicians’ office, a hospital or a nursing care facility.
A person looking to obtain work in this field must be able to spend a great deal of time on their feet or standing in one place. Stretching and bending will be part of their everyday activities also. As a result, many Registered Nurses find they are prone to back issues because they must frequently lift and move patients.
Additionally, Registered Nurses need to be aware of infectious diseases, as they may come in close contact with individuals who are ill and aren’t aware they are sick. Other substances, such as medications, also need to be of concern, as improper contact can be both hazardous and harmful. Due to these concerns, Registered Nurses are required to follow strict guidelines with regard to patient care.
Educational Requirements for an RN in Long Term Care
Becoming an RN takes commitment on the part of the individual. There are three ways that an individual can become a Registered Nurse. In addition, a person must be licensed to work in this field.
Every individual interested in obtaining work as an RN will take certain core classes. These classes include ones in physiology, chemistry, psychology, nutrition, anatomy, microbiology and more. In addition, he or she takes courses in the liberal arts.
The Bachelor of Science degree in nursing takes four years to complete. This program often includes additional courses in areas that include critical thinking and communication. Those who wish to take an administrative or research position in a Long-Term Care or nursing facility will need to select this option.
An associate’s degree in nursing or a diploma obtained through an approved nursing program are the other paths to a career as a Registered Nurse in a nursing facility or in long-term care. These programs typically take two to three years to finish. Regardless of which of the three options is selected, supervised clinical experience is required.
Individuals who obtain an associate’s degree or a diploma often return to school to obtain their bachelor’s degree. A special program has been established to help these individuals do so, and this is known as the RN-to-BSN program. An individual may pursue a career as a Registered Nurse after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a different field with the help of an accelerated program or may opt to obtain a master’s degree in the field.
To become a Registered Nurse, a person must obtain licensure upon completion of the educational requirements through an approved nursing program. The license is obtained upon successful completion of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), although each state retains the right to add additional requirements. Many states have opted to do so, thus a candidate needs to speak to the State Board of Nursing to learn what the requirements are for their state.
An individual may opt to obtain certification in long-term care (LTC) nursing. Although there is no requirement to do so, it does often expand a person’s job options. The American Association of Directors of Nursing Services (AADNS) is a non-profit organization that empowers Long Term Care Nurses and Leaders with education, certifications, and best practices.
Advancement in the Field
A nurse will likely need to gain experience before advancing in his or her career. With continuous education and good performance, a nurse will find he or she can be promoted to a position that comes with additional responsibility. This may be a management-level position or it may be a career in a different healthcare organization. It all depends on what the nurse wants and needs in his or her life.
Once a person has established his or her role as a Registered Nurse in long-term care, new options become available. A person may find he or she been named a charge nurse or might discover they are promoted to the chief nursing officer position. These are only a few of the many ways a person can make a career out of being a Registered Nurse working in long-term care.
Critical Skills of a Registered Nurse Working in Long Term Care
To be a successful Registered Nurse, each individual must possess certain skills before embarking on a career in this sector. He or she needs to be able to think critically and assess changes to a patient’s health. The information obtained must then be leveraged to take corrective action or refer the patient to another healthcare provider.
Good communication helps the nurse to evaluate each situation and understand any concerns a patient may have. Specifically, when educating patients on their diagnosis and course of treatment, good communication skills are very beneficial. It is also essential for a nurse be able to clearly communicate with other members of a patient’s healthcare team.
A Registered Nurse must have emotional stability to ensure that he or she can properly deal with their emotions when they encounter an emergency, human suffering or another situation that brings on stress. They must also be compassionate and empathetic.
Organizational skills are also a necessity when working in this field. Most Registered Nurses have multiple patients to oversee at any given time. These skills ensure that every patient gets the proper care at all times.
Details matter when it comes to nursing. A nurse must pay attention to the small things to ensure the proper treatments are being carried out. With the help of these skills, a nurse can provide each patient with the correct medication and treatment at all times.
As America’s population is aging, the need for Registered Nurses working in long-term care or nursing facilities is expected to grow at a faster rate than for all occupations combined. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects this field to grow 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. This is due to the health problems experienced by many senior citizens and the need to educate individuals struggling with chronic conditions which include those with diabetes, dementia, obesity and arthritis.
Furthermore, the expansion of healthcare coverage means more individuals now have access to additional services. As a result, more nurses will be needed to assist these individuals. Hospitals are likewise receiving pressure from insurance companies to discharge patients sooner, thus Registered Nurses experienced in long-term care will be needed at nursing facilities and outpatient care centers to assist these patients. Head injury and stroke patients need long-term care, as do those with Alzheimer’s. Nurses are needed to aid in the treatment of these patients.
Open Jobs for RNs
Registered Nurses can expect to see a continuing demand for long-term care nurses. However, more individuals are opting to enter this field. This could lead to increased competition among nurses in certain parts of the country. Individuals who obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing find they have more job opportunities. Those in less populated areas will find they are more in demand than those in urban areas. Long-Term Care facilities will sometimes turn to staffing companies to help with shortages in rural areas. To see our current list of jobs for Nurses in Long Term care, click here.
Individuals looking to pursue a career in this field need to recognize, however, that there will always be a need for Registered Nurses. This is especially true for those interested in working in long-term care, as more people will be reaching the age or physical condition where they need this type of care.
Where to Find Employment
Registered Nurses wishing to work in this field will find they have numerous job opportunities. While many work in nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities, these are not the only places to apply. Consider long-term acute care facilities, retirement communities, assisted living centers and adult day care centers, among others. Reputable staffing firms like 360 Healthcare Staffing can help magnify your career search and goals due to their connections with thousands of facilities with just one click or phone call.
The Benefits of Working in Long-Term Care as a Registered Nurse
Nurses often wonder if they should pursue a job with a hospital or opt for work in a long-term care facility or nursing home. There are a number of advantages of choosing a facility of this type as opposed to a hospital or acute care center. Following are a few of these benefits.
Nurses working in long-term care or a nursing home find they develop lasting relationships with their patients. They often develop a bond with those they are helping. In addition, nurses often get to know family members and establish a relationship with them. While it can be hard to lose a patient, nurses state they take comfort in knowing they were there for the patient during the aging process or their chronic illness.
Individuals can learn a great deal from the older generation. Although nurses are often asked to educate their patients regarding their health, nurses tend to learn a lot from their patients also when working in this field.
Registered Nurses who choose a career in long-term care discover their perspective on aging changes. They become less frightened of the process and come to gain a better understanding of what to expect in the future. Working in this field also helps to make death a less difficult concept for many.
Why Choose a Career in This Field?
Working in long-term care or a nursing facility is very rewarding. Nurses learn patience, expand their nursing skills and boost their analytical thinking. Furthermore, this job offers numerous challenges and moments of great joy in the typical day. Registered Nurses need to consider this option, as it is one that will change their life in ways they never imagined.
Anyone looking for a new career in the healthcare industry may wish to consider becoming a Registered Nurse and working in long-term care. This is one specialty that truly cannot be matched in terms of what it offers to those working in the field.