Working in a long-term care facility often gets a bad rap in the nursing community. LTC nursing sometimes is viewed as a low-prestige option, where nurses rapidly lose their skills and mainly sit behind a desk doing paperwork.
That’s unfortunate, because today’s LTC facilities offer a vibrant workplace with plenty of opportunities to make a real difference in someone’s life. Isn’t that why we all went into nursing in the first place?
In addition to the chance to elevate a patient’s quality of life, nurses in long-term care can enjoy excellent working conditions and sometimes the chance to advance their careers rapidly up the management ladder.
Enriching the Lives of Seniors
Unlike nurses in acute care facilities, long-term care nurses have the opportunity to forge deep, meaningful bonds with their patients – many of whom will be residents for years. In LTC, you have the opportunity to advocate for your patients to receive all of the care and benefits they deserve, which can improve their lives immeasurably.
As you get to know your patients in long-term care, you may find your own life enriched, as well. Through hearing their stories and learning who they were before age and infirmity overtook them, you may discover life lessons – and history lessons – that you carry with you forever.
And no matter what type of LTC you choose to work in, from memory care to skilled nursing, you will help your patients age with dignity. What could be more rewarding than that?
Maintain Your Nursing Skills
Many nurses fear losing their skills if they choose a position in long-term care, but with patient acuity levels rising in these facilities, you should have plenty of opportunities to maintain your bedside skills and even learn new ones.
Nurses in LTC often are called upon to manage:
- Central lines
- Peripheral lines
- IV pumps
- Oxygen therapy
- Urinary catheters, including suprapubic
- Wound care
- Ostomy care
And let’s not forget you’ll need top-notch pharmaceutical skills. The polypharmacy involved in LTC patient care requires your keen nursing knowledge to reduce potential adverse events from drug interactions, medication errors and other types of med mishaps.
Opportunities Where You Live
If you’d like to shorten your commute, long-term care nursing might be a great fit for you. Unlike hospitals and medical centers that tend to be centrally located, LTC facilities usually are community-based. That means you may be able to find opportunities just a few minutes from home.
Strong Outlook for LTC Nursing Jobs
The aging population around the globe should continue to drive long-term care census numbers upward for years to come. Demand for LTC nurses should rise accordingly, which positions you to advance your career up the management ladder – if that’s a goal.
The increasing demand for LTC care nurses is improving salaries and benefits, too. According to Salary.com, the median salary for a long-term care LVN in the United States is around $50,000, and LTC RNs earn around $72,000 annually.
LTC employers have stepped up their game when it comes to benefits, too. Recent open position listings on LiquidCompass noted benefits that include:
- Sign-on bonus
- Health and dental coverage
- Accident, injury and wellness plans
- Employee assistance programs
- Referral bonuses
- Free continuing education classes/credits
- Flexible scheduling
- Paid time off
- Discounted cell service
Remarkably, some employers extend this level of benefits to part-time LTC nurses, as well as full-time staff.
Plenty of Room for Advancement
If your nursing goals include reaching the upper levels of management, long-term care makes a great place to establish and grow your career. The rising demand for LTC services means more openings all along the career ladder. By establishing yourself in this nursing niche early, you can learn everything you need to know about management, and then move into senior positions as they become available.
Some employers are so keen to retain their staff nurses that they’ll even reimburse you for tuition to complete an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree in healthcare management. Combined with your nursing education and license, an advanced business degree can open up a world of career possibilities.
Meaningful Patient Care + Professional Development = Great Nursing Career
Taking the benefits of long-term care nursing, as a whole, you can see how it might make a great career choice. The opportunity to regularly provide meaningful patient care and advocacy, coupled with great options for professional development (not to mention the practical benefits of finding work near home and earning an excellent salary), should put LTC nursing on the radar for any nurse looking for personal and professional enrichment.
About the Author
Elizabeth Hanes, RN is ‘the nurse who knows' content. She is a freelance writer who combines her knowledge of nursing with over 20 years in journalism. Her unique background brings credibility and authenticity to her writing.