Although many injuries and illnesses require short-term treatment, patients who are suffering from more serious injuries or illness may require care from a long-term care nurse. A long-term care nurse is a professional in the field of nursing who is dedicated to patients who require medical care for months or years. In some cases, a long-term care nurse may care for a patient for the rest of the patient’s life.
What is a Long-term Care Nurse?
The field of long-term nursing is growing, and the number of available positions for long-term care nurses is expected to dramatically increase over the next decade. According to Discover Nursing, long-term care nurses often care for the same patients each day. Therefore, these nurses often wind up developing familiar, comfortable relationships with their patients and, in some cases, close friendships. However, many patients who need long-term care will pass away while in the care of a nurse, so long-term care nurses must be emotionally mature about losing patients and must be able to view death as a natural component of the life cycle. Successful long-term care nurses will also be committed to helping others in need and compassionate. Most long-term care nurses work in long-term care facilities such as home care agencies, retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities as well as some hospitals.
What Do Long-term Care Nurses Do?
Long-term care nurses are dedicated to caring for patients who need nursing assistance over an extended period of time, including those who are suffering from illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or AIDS as well as those living with debilitating injuries. These nursing professionals are also responsible for caring for elderly patients who are unable to care for themselves or who need frequent medical care. Long-term nurses are responsible for administering medications as well as monitoring and recording vital signs on a routine basis. Some long-term nurses will perform other treatment and therapeutic procedures such as range of motion exercises and massages. In addition to administering medical care, these nursing professionals may also need to tend to their patients’ daily needs by helping them with tasks such as dressing, using the toilet, bathing, and eating. Long-term care nurses often frequently act as sources of comfort, guidance, and support for patients and their families.
How to Become a Long-term Care Nurse
In general, a long-term care nurse may begin his or her career by becoming a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). This involves earning a diploma or degree in the field of nursing and receiving a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). As soon as a nurse earns his or her license, he or she may begin working as a registered nurse in either a long-term or short-term care position. Some nurses choose to continue their education by enrolling in a program that focuses on gerontology or long-term medical care. In addition, the American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN) offers certification, and in order to be eligible, nurses must first complete one of the AALTCN’s certification programs that includes study materials and a comprehensive examination.
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Long-term care nursing is a crucial component to the healthcare system. Patients who are living with injuries, illnesses, or disabilities rely on their long-term care nurse for assistance with daily tasks, to administer medication, and to provide a shoulder on which they can lean during particularly difficult times.