A broken bone, an unfortunate kitchen injury requiring stitches, a case of strep throat — all of these are situations healthcare professionals can resolve rather quickly. Unfortunately, many individuals struggle with medical conditions that persist for weeks, months or years — despite treatment efforts.
In the case of the latter, long-term care nurses are highly valuable to the nursing profession. The online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program from Radford University equips nursing professionals to care for patients with chronic conditions and long-term health problems.
What Does a Long-Term Care Nurse Do?
The main characteristic among long-term care nurses is that they tend to patients who require extended care. This type of care encompasses several medical conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Age-related dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
Any condition that requires consistent or frequent care could fall under the purview of a long-term care nurse’s charge. Typical duties of long-term care nurses include checking vital signs, IV therapy, wound care, administering medications, catheter/ostomy care and patient education.
While many long-term care nurses work for public health organizations, they can also perform in other settings like private assisted living communities, rehabilitation centers, cancer units and hospice providers. It’s not uncommon for some long-term care nurses to progress into leadership or management roles — especially if they’ve furthered their education as an RN with a BSN degree.
What Characteristics Must Long-Term Care Nurses Possess?
Because long-term care nurses often deal with chronic, untreatable or terminal diseases, resilience is critical. It’s not easy to accept that your patients’ pain is not temporary. However, there is comfort in the fact that you are crucial to helping them manage and lessen that pain over time.
Long-term care nurses must also be critical thinkers and act quickly should a patient experience an unexpected medical event. While many of these RNs work independently, they also benefit from being “team players” as part of an extensive network of care professionals.
Of course, a caring and compassionate attitude is a must — toward the patient and their family members or caregivers. Offering a listening or empathetic ear or serving as a trusted confidant can be just as valuable as the “logistical” care long-term nurses provide.
Is Long-Term Care Nursing a Lucrative Career?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the employment of registered nurses to grow 6% by 2032.
Chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease are rising, requiring more care and more nurses to meet that need. Even individuals dealing with a chronic condition but in relatively good health want to ensure they can live more productive lives. So naturally, the area of long-term care nursing will see rapid growth in demand.
Again, long-term care nurses who have earned a BSN have even more opportunities to level up their career potential. The American Association for Long-Term Care Nursing (AALTCN) offers certification in long-term care nursing — providing nurses another opportunity to improve their employment prospects.
Salary potential is also promising for long-term care nurses. BLS lists the national average hourly rate as $39.05 as of May 2022.
Not every individual is fit to take on the role of a long-term care nurse. However, a career in long-term care nursing can be both personally and professionally rewarding for those who have the drive to devote their skills and knowledge to helping patients with lifelong and chronic conditions. Through course offerings like RN Gerontological Nursing, Radford University’s online RN to BSN program gives students the skills and knowledge to offer the best possible long-term care.
Learn more about Radford University’s online RN to BSN program.