What is a Long-Term Care Nurse?

Have you ever considered working as a long-term care nurse? This specialty doesn’t have the excitement of emergency nursing or the instant appeal of the maternity ward, but it has its own charms. Many nurses enjoy managing the complex medical and emotional needs of long-term care residents. This field is also a strong option for nurses who need to start working as soon as possible.

Where Long-Term Care Nurses Work

Most nurses in the long-term care field work at senior living facilities. Because Americans are living longer than ever, there’s an increasing demand for health care staff with the patience and expertise to care for senior citizens. Extended care options are also needed for patients rehabilitating from physical injuries or living with extensive mental and physical disabilities. Many long-term care nurses enjoy the opportunity to work with the same patients year after year. In this field, you can develop strong personal bonds and witness disease progression directly.

How To Get a Long-Term Care Job

The easiest way to start working at a long-term care facility is to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). You can complete one of these courses in just a few weeks, and many nursing degree programs award you CNA status after your first semester. As a nursing assistant, you will provide personal care for nursing home residents and build experience in the field. This will give you a boost on your resume, but it isn’t required for finding a job in long-term nursing. Many new nursing graduates start their careers in elder care or rehabilitation facilities because they are excellent places to learn on-the-job skills.

 Long-Term Nursing Career Prospects

Nursing homes offer a clear-cut path for growing your career. You can start working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) after one year of training or as a registered nurse (RN) with a two-year degree. Once you’re ready to advance, many facilities will help you pay for your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You’ll need a four-year degree to become a health services administrator and manage your facility, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA) or nursing (MSN) will let you take charge of bigger facilities or move to regional supervision with a large nursing home company. If you want to stay at the bedside, a BSN will let you serve as a charge nurse and train new hires and support staff.

Degree Needed to Work at a Long-Term Facility

America is facing a nursing shortage that will only grow, according to Nursing World. This means health care facilities are desperate to hire nurses. The lack of staff is especially acute at long-term care homes, because nurses often transfer to hospital roles after gaining experience. While a bachelor’s degree will give you more career flexibility, you can find happiness and stability in long-term care without a BSN.

Related Resource: What is a Pain Management Nurse?

There are no television shows about medical care at senior living facilities, but there is a lot of joy to be found doing this vitally important work. If you begin your career as a long-term care nurse, you’ll quickly see why so many nurses choose to spend their entire working lives in this specialty.