The long-term care nurse works in facilities where the average stay of a patient is measured in months or years, rather than days or weeks as would be the case with a hospital patient. This nurse will see many of the same patients every day and has the opportunity to make a difference in the quality of life of all the patients under the nurse’s care.
Long-term Care Nurse Job Description & Scope of Practice
The long-term care nurse will perform the duties appropriate to her licensing. These nurses will assess patients, administer medications, and administer treatments ordered by the physician and follow through with the plan of care as established by the nursing team. Long-term care nurses may deal with patients who are confused such as those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
In a rehabilitation facility, the long-term nurse may provide emotional support and encouragement to patients and family. Documenting patient progress and response to treatments is part of the long-term care nurse’s job.
How to Become a Long-term Care Nurse
The long-term care nurse is a specialty that requires the nurse obtain a nursing diploma or degree. Nursing administrators may have advanced degrees in administration or clinical nursing. Long-term care nursing can be challenging and rewarding for the graduate nurse as well as the experienced nurse.
The long-term care nurse may be faced with challenges such as long hours, and staff shortages. The reason for the staff shortages are complex, the specialty does not pay as much as other specialties. The nurse in a long-term care facility requires all the compassion and expertise of a nurse in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office setting.
Patients in rehabilitation facilities may also have had life changing traumas such as strokes or serious accidents that require they re-learn skills of daily living. Patients present the special challenges that go along with aging and the long-term care nurse must have sufficient knowledge of psychological. Long-term care nurses may be LPN/LVN RN or Advanced Practice Nurses.
Long-Term Care Nurse Education Requirements, Certification, and Schooling Programs
- Graduation from an accredited nursing school earning either a degree or a diploma is required.
- Hold a nursing license, LPN/LVN or RN
- Certifications in long-term care or rehabilitation care are available for nurses after graduation. RNs with a 4-year degree can opt for a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus upon Long-term care.
- Nurses interested in obtaining certification as a Long-Term Care Nurse RN-CLTC, should petition the American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN). Applications receive 12 hours of contact education before sitting for the exam. Only those earning an 80-percent or higher on the exam become certified. Recertification occurs every three years and requires 20 hours of continuing education. Certification is not required to work as a long-term care nurse, but only certified individuals carry the RN-CLTC distinction.
Certified nurse’s aides are commonly hired in long-term care facilities to assist patients with activities of daily living and free the nursing staff to focus upon medications and treatments.
Long-Term Care Nurse Salary and Career Outlook
Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and the demand for long-term care nurses is predicted to become even greater. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 21-23% growth in jobs for nurses through the year 2018.
The salary range for long-term care nurses depends upon their level of education. An LPN/LVN makes around $35,000 on average. An RN will make around $54,000 a year as a long-term care nurse.