How to Succeed with a Career in Long Term Care Nursing
Long Term Care Nursing is a field that is currently in high demand and can prove equally lucrative for the dedicated professional. While there are many reasons to consider long term care nursing as a career, to be successful, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the profession.
What is Long Term Care Nursing?
For those new to the profession, you may be wondering what may be considered long term care nursing. Long term care nurses are those professionals who “primarily focus on extended patient healthcare.” This can apply to a wide variety of patients, including:
- those recovering from a very severe accident/injury
- patients living with a disability
- those suffering from progressive illnesses
- patients diagnosed with chronic conditions
The scope of working with these patients can differ from day to day and based on the type of training a professional may have. For example, an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) will interact with the same patient differently than an RN (Registered Nurse). Nevertheless, succeeding in this career requires a professional to execute their duties in a caring, patient, and compassionate manner.
How Do You Enter the Long Term Care Nursing Field?
As mentioned above, a variety of nursing professionals work in the long term care nursing field- including LPNs, RNs, and even CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistant). If you are considering this field prior to starting your studies, choosing classes that focus on long-term medical care or gerontology could be beneficial. Additionally, professional certifications in the field are an option for both RNs and LPNs.
Regardless of the program you opt for, a current and valid license is required. More specifically, you will be required to be licensed in the state you desire to practice (if a traveling nurse) or hold a compact license.
Long Term Care Nursing: The Competencies
Saying “you need a license” may be drastically oversimplifying the process. If you are to have a successful career in long term care nursing, it is important to understand what is expected of a professional in the field (with varying degrees of responsibility, of course).
- Significant knowledge of patient care
- Administering medication
- Wound care
- Monitoring and recording vital signs
- Providing therapeutic treatments
- Indwelling urinary catheter care
- Intravenous therapy
- Enteral tube feedings
- Respiratory therapy
- Management of stable ventilators
- Ostomy care
- Tracheostomy care
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Professional and Personal Investment
- Long term care nursing goes far beyond the medical aspects of care. Long term care nurses also attend to the daily needs of their patients by assisting them with tasks such as bathing, dressing, and even eating. Such close, daily interaction requires a level of personal investment- not just professional.
- Long term care patients often rely on their caregivers for companionship, comfort, and support as you are, in most cases, spending more time with them than their own family members.
- Strong Teamwork Mentality
- The saying “it takes a village” certainly applies to long term care. While you may have a strong bond with your patient, you will be just one part of caregiving team. Being able to collaborate is a key aspect of succeeding in long term care nursing. Documenting all care with thorough notes, while also verbally communicating successfully is essential to collaborating with the patient’s entire team.
- Quite often, you may find yourself working in a different location based on the needs of the patients. Maintaining a teamwork mindset and doing what is best for the facility, will certainly help you be successful.
What type of facilities utilize long term care nurses?
Choosing to become a long term care nurse affords you the opportunity to work in a variety of facilities. These facilities include:
- Home Care (Home Health)
- Assisted Living Facilities
- Retirement Communities
- Nursing Homes
Why should I choose a career as a long term care nurse?
You have the skills to work as a long term care nurse. However, having the skills does not equate to having the desire to do so. So, why should you choose a career in long term care nursing?
- Career Stability: People are living longer and longer with each generation. Additionally, Baby Boomers have started reaching retirement age and are continuing to age. The demand for long term care nursing is only going to keep increasing.
- Rewarding Relationships: In most cases, you will care for the same patients every day (or every shift). More so, you will be working on a very personal level with these patients (and often their families. Being able to provide your patients, and their families, with quality care can be very rewarding. Additionally, you will be working with associates and professional peers which may result in rewarding friendships and networking.
- Experience and Growth: Quite often, long term care nurses can gain experience in different specialties faster than their short-term care counterparts. By growing your skill set and amassing a wide variety of experiences can only serve to benefit your career long-term.
Your Career in Long Term Care Nursing
If you are looking for a profession that is in high demand, and is equally rewarding, long term care nursing is for you! If you are a licensed CNA, LPN, or RN, we would love to hear from you. We have opportunities across the country in top notch long-term care facilities that are looking for talented and caring nurses to join their team.