A career in LTC travel nursing is a great way for you to avoid nurse burnout — the job is still demanding, but the variety of locations and facilities can help keep you fresh and motivated. It’s also a great way to sharpen your skills, gain crucial experience, and improve your resume.
Long-term care nurses and allied health professionals serve patients in need of extended medical care and/or monitoring. To succeed working in LTC you must be very caring and compassionate, a great communicator, and work well within a multidisciplinary care team. Healthcare professionals who truly excel in LTC and SNF settings have a passion for serving patients with long-term health issues. Unlike many other specialties where the goal is to “fix” and discharge patients, LTC nurses and techs must be able to treat and support patients facing chronic health situations. That can take an extra special ability for emotional and psychological support — for both patients and their families.
The overall goal for patient care at long-term care facilities is to maintain stable condition for each patient, ensure patient safety, and work to improve their condition and quality of life whenever possible. LTC nurses are often responsible for coordinating care, administering medication, monitoring and recording vitals and any changes in condition, assessing patients’ ongoing conditions, and ensuring that LTC patients’ routine needs are met.
LTC/SNF RN Average Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States was $75,330 as of May 2020. However, the salary for RNs working in long-term care facilities can vary depending on a variety of factors, including location, experience, and education.
According to payscale.com, the average salary for RNs working in long-term care facilities as of March 2023 is $64,000 per year. However, this is just an average, and salaries can range from around $44,000 to over $94,000 per year depending on the factors mentioned above.
It’s also important to note that RNs may receive additional benefits such as healthcare, retirement contributions, and paid time off in addition to their salary.
To become a Registered Nurse (RN) in a long term care facility, you have to complete an accredited nursing program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), and obtain a nursing license in the state where you plan to work.
The specific education requirements for RNs in long term care facilities may vary by state, but most commonly, they will need to complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Some long term care facilities may prefer or require a BSN degree.
Additionally, RNs may need to obtain certifications in areas such as gerontology, dementia care, or wound care to work in a long term care facility. These certifications can be obtained through organizations such as the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (NADONA) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
The most commonly required LTC certification is Basic Life Support (BLS). Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) are other commonly preferred certifications for nurses working long term care or skilled nursing settings.
Facilities typically require a minimum of one to two years of recent LTC/SNF experience in order to hire you as an LTC travel nurse. You’ll want the benefit of experience since travel nurses have to hit the ground running!
It is important to note that each long term care facility may have its own specific requirements for RNs, so it’s essential to work with your recruiter to understand the education and certification requirements for the facility where you plan to work.
Who Works in LTC?
A wide range of healthcare professionals work in long-term care facilities in order to serve the needs of their LTC patients. Team members in a long-term care facility or skilled nursing facility can include LTC RNs, LTC CNAs, LTC LPNs, LTC LVNs, LTC techs, LTC DONs, LTC ADONs, dieticians, nursing assistants, physicians, physical therapists, speech pathologists, administrative staff, public health specialists, and social workers/case managers.
Registered Nurses (RNs) – RNs are licensed nurses who are responsible for coordinating care for residents, administering medication, and managing the overall health of residents.
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) – LPNs work under the supervision of RNs and provide basic medical care, such as monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and changing dressings.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) – CNAs provide direct care to residents, assisting with activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing, as well as providing emotional support and companionship.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) – NPs are advanced practice registered nurses who can provide a range of healthcare services, including diagnosis, treatment, and prescription medication.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) – CNSs are highly trained RNs who specialize in a particular area of healthcare, such as geriatrics or palliative care. They provide advanced clinical care and act as resources for other healthcare professionals in the facility.
Long Term Care Administrators – Long-term care administrators oversee and manage the operations of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and hospices. They hire and supervise staff, manage budgets, maintain relationships with residents and families, and ensure compliance with regulations. They also work to improve the quality of care provided and advocate for residents’ rights. Administrators are often referred to as Nursing Home Administrators or LTC Management.
Who’s Treated in LTC?
Patients at long-term care facilities and skilled nursing facilities can require care for a variety of reasons. In general, the majority of patients are elderly but there are also patients from across the life span with a variety of conditions that necessitate long-term care. Regardless of their age, LTC patients may suffer from chronic conditions, diseases, and/or disabilities including, but not limited to, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney issues, and more.
There are many types of facilities and settings that constitute “long term care”. These include home health, hospice, care homes, adult homes, assisted living programs, independent living apartments, rehabilitation homes, enriched housing, retirement communities, and nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities).