An RN long term care professional is a licensed nurse who provides care services to residents in long term care facilities—nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), assisted living, and independent living facilities—after receiving the appropriate education and passing the necessary national tests.
RNs (Registered Nurses) are responsible for their residents’ overall health and well-being. They work closely with other healthcare team members (CNAs and LPNs) to ensure that each resident receives the best possible care using the facility’s care plan software.
What does an RN do?
The day-to-day activities of an RN long term care professional include:
- Overseeing treatments and ensuring documentation of prescribed resident therapies in the long term care EHR
- Keeping detailed records of treatments and medications using the facility’s long term care software
- Assessing and recording information about the resident’s condition—information such as wound care documentation and vital signs
- Monitoring nursing home residents’ physical activity and nutrition habits
- Overseeing CNAs while coordinating resident care with physicians
It is worth noting that nursing homes have regulations that determine their licensing and that take into account the number of licensed nursing staff in the facility. Of course, currently, in the midst of the long term care staffing crisis, facilities are struggling with high nurse-to-patient ratios, which results in decreased quality of care for residents.
How much does an RN Make?
For individuals considering becoming an RN long term care professional, now is the best time, as they are in high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wage of an RN long term care professional was $77,600 in 2021. Brookline College notes that the highest paying state for nurses is California, with the highest paying city in the U.S. being San Francisco, where an RN long term care professional can expect to make an hourly wage of $71.73, or $149,200 per annum.
What is the work environment like?
RN long term care professionals can either be quite content or rather frustrated, depending on the place of employment that they choose. That is why it is important to make a careful selection. Nursing homes, for instance, have three quality indicators that an aspiring RN can use to determine if the facility provides quality care to its residents and, thus, has a good culture. The nursing home measures of quality care are:
- Nursing Home Deficiency Citations: A nursing home can be cited for a deficiency if it is found to have violated a regulation in the state’s minimum standards for nursing homes. A citation may be issued for any number of reasons, such as failing to provide adequate staffing levels, not having enough registered nurses on staff, or not providing proper care for residents with pressure sores.
- Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Quality Reporting Program (QRP): The SNF QRP is a Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative that evaluates the quality of care provided in skilled nursing facilities. The program uses a set of quality measures to score each facility, and publishes these scores on the Nursing Home Compare website.
- The National Nursing Home Quality Improvement (NNHQI) Campaign: The NNHQI Campaign is a voluntary initiative led by the CMS that encourages nursing homes to improve the quality of care they provide to residents. The campaign uses quality measures to track progress, and nursing homes that participate receive technical assistance and resources from the CMS.
By observing these measures, a new RN long term care professional can determine the quality of care at the facility and whether or not it aligns with the standards of care for which they are looking.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Registered Nurse?
A common question posed is: how long does it take to become a registered nurse? According to Southern New Hampshire University, training to become an RN long term care professional can take anywhere from two to four years. The time frame depends on several factors, such as the chosen degree program, clinical experience (if any), and the licensing requirements of the state. Additionally, although we have been talking about RNs from a long term care perspective, a qualified RN can also work in hospitals, physician offices, and other healthcare facilities.
Once someone has decided to start their training to become a registered nurse, these helpful nurse training tips can be useful during their program:
- Carry a notebook: Notebooks are helpful for taking notes during lectures and clinical hours. Of course, it is also useful training for an RN long term care professional to learn how to document all care activities in a point-of-care nursing home software.
- Ask questions: One shouldn’t be afraid to ask for clarification in class and during clinical rotations. It is better to fully understand a concept than to risk making a mistake at a critical juncture down the road.
- Wear a fanny pack: It may seem old-fashioned, but having a fanny pack to store supplies such as a pen, a small notebook, small scissors, and some gloves while on clinical rotations can be a lifesaver.
- Find a mentor: Find a nurse who has worked in the field for years and ask them for guidance and advice. This is an invaluable form of training that a new nurse needs during the first couple of years as a qualified nurse.
- Converse with the residents: Don’t forget that the residents are the reason RNs exist! Take the time to get to know them and their families, and treat them with compassion and respect.
- Stay healthy: It’s essential to take care of oneself physically and mentally when working in the nursing field. Be sure to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
- Wear comfortable shoes: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be comfortable when working long hours on your feet. Look for shoes designed for nurses that are comfy, airy, and easy to slip on and off.
One pursuing becoming an RN should know that it is a different position than an RPN. Here we will explain the difference between a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). While both RNs and RPNs play a vital role in the healthcare system, and both are in high demand, they have different training and daily tasks.
An RPN—also called a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in other countries—provides nursing care to individuals, families, and groups in various settings. RNs have more education and training and, as a result, can provide more comprehensive care. They also have more responsibility than RPNs and typically hold management positions that RPNs cannot.
Contact us here if you would like to demo our long term care EHR for RNs and other long term care professionals.
4 Simple Steps To Becoming a Registered General Nurse
What steps can one take to become a registered general nurse? According to Rasmussen University, there are four simple steps one can take to become an RN long term care professional:
1. Consider the Available Nursing Degree Options
There are several nursing degrees available, so choosing the best one that has room for career progression is essential. For instance, if a person is interested in quickly becoming an RN, then an Associate’s Degree in Nursing may be the way to go. In as little as two years, one can become an RN, earning the average long term care nursing salary of $64,370, or $29.96 per hour.
On the other hand, if a person is looking to work in a hospital or in specialized nursing roles, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may be the better option, even the program takes four years to complete.
2. Enroll in a Nursing School
Once the decision about which degree to pursue has been made, the next step is enrolling in a certified nursing school. The school upon which one decides should be selected based on one’s interests and aspirations and not mere convenience. For instance, those interested in an Associate’s Degree in Nursing can find a community college near them by using the Nursing Degree Programs website. As for those interested in a BSN program, they too can use the same website to find colleges and universities that provide this type of degree.
3. Complete the Needed Coursework and Clinicals
The next step is to complete the coursework and clinicals required for the chosen nursing degree. This step will vary depending on one’s goal. Earlier, we noted that one of the questions potential RN long term care professionals have is how long does it take to become a registered nurse and what education is needed to become a registered nurse?
Typically, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing will take two years to complete, while a BSN may take four years. In both programs, students will complete various courses, such as anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and nursing theory. In addition, students will also complete clinicals, to gain hands-on training in a real-life healthcare setting.
4. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam
After completing the coursework and clinicals for the chosen nursing degree, the next step is to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This is a standardized exam that serves as a prerequisite for becoming a licensed nurse.
The NCLEX-RN exam tests a person’s knowledge of the nursing process and whether they have the necessary skills and abilities to safely and effectively care for patients and long term care residents. Passing this exam earns a person a nursing license, allowing them to work as an RN long term care professional.
Myths About RN Long Term Care Professionals
As we conclude, it is worth dispelling a few myths about RN long term care professionals for those who are interested in such a career path:
- Myth: Long term care requires less critical thinking
Reality: Working in long term care requires RNs to be excellent critical thinkers. Because they often care for many residents with various conditions, RNs working in long term care must be able to quickly assess each patient’s needs and develop a plan of care accordingly using the facility’s long term care software.
- Myth: Long term care nursing is for older nurses
Reality: This couldn’t be further from the truth. RNs of all ages work in long term care. In fact, many new nursing graduates choose to begin their nursing careers in long term care because it offers a great way to gain experience working with various patients and residents.
- Myth: Long term care is dull and less glamorous than other types of nursing.
Reality: While long term care may not be as “exciting” as other types of nursing, it is certainly not dull. RNs working in long term care often have to be quick on their feet and be able to think on their toes. In addition, they form close bonds with their patients and their families, which can be very rewarding.
Becoming an RN long term care professional is a great way to enter the exciting and rewarding field of nursing. One can become an RN in as little as two years with a few simple steps, and with the average RN long term care salary sitting at $64,370, or $29.96 per hour, it’s a great career choice for those looking to earn a good income and make a difference in the lives of our seniors.
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