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What Does a Long-Term Care Registered Nurse (RN) Do?

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RN Case Manager Ad (3)A Registered Nurse (RN) provides direct care to patients and is a critical part of a healthcare team. RNs usually have several team members assisting them, including Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) to help provide direct patient care and treatment.

Long-Term Care (LTC) nurses have excellent observation and assessment skills. While they primarily focus on medical care, such as administering medication, they also must communicate effectively in order to recognize unique patient needs, especially when caring for those who have Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia.

Additionally, RNs may also perform therapeutic and treatment procedures, such as range of motion exercises. Unlike nurses in a hospital setting, Long-Term Care RNs often don’t have the constant support of a physician. They are responsible for the residents’ daily quality of life.  

RN job duties often include:

  • Taking and monitoring patient vital signs 
  • Administering medication 
  • Communicating changes in patient behavior or health status to unit managers and family members 
  • Maintaining accurate patient records 
  • Collecting specimen samples when needed 
  • Developing personalized patient care and treatment plans
  • Serving as a trusted resource to other member of the patient care team
  • Assisting in medical procedures 
  • Managing emergency medical situations 

Registered Nurse (RN) Job Titles

In long-term care settings, RNs can have a variety of job titles. The most common is a floor nurse, also referred to as a staff nurse. As a floor nurse, an RN will assume the regular day-to-day duties of patient care and treatment. Beyond floor nurse, RNs also serve as:

Registered Nurse Job Requirements

LTC nurses generally begin their careers by becoming Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) while they complete their required schooling. Serving as a CNA provides hands-on experience in direct patient care.

At a minimum, in order to become a Registered Nurse, candidates need to have a high school diploma or GED, complete an accredited nursing program, and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

There are two routes that students can take to obtain their RN: they can complete a two or three year program, which would earn them an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN); or, they could complete a four-year program, which would earn them a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Individuals working toward obtaining their RN should 
check licensure requirements issued by their state Board of Nursing to ensure that they are ready to practice in their chosen field and have completed each step necessary to gain licensure. 

In addition to education and licensure, RNs should display strong moral character and superior communication abilities. Since RNs work closely with patients and other healthcare professionals during intense or emergency situations, great candidates will be able to demonstrate their ability to remained poised.

Other members of the healthcare team, like LPNs and CNAs, look to RNs for guidance, especially during times of crisis. RNs should be comfortable serving as a leader and model for their coworkers, by showing them how to make sound decisions under stress. Lastly, RNs should be dedicated to delivering excellent, personalized care to each individual. Desirable traits that are seen in the most seasoned, successful RNs in long-term care are: empathy, integrity, confidence, and attention to detail.

Additional Certifications for Registered Nurses

Obtaining additional certifications will not only allow nurses to build their skillset, but it will also help them to stand out from the crowd of nurses looking to gain future employment.

Certification in long-term care nursing is offered by the
 American Association for Long-Term Care Nursing (AALTCN). To sit for the certification exam, candidates must complete one of their certification programs.

Certifications that Long-Term Care nurses should consider pursuing, that are also in high demand by many facilities across the country, include:

Where Can an RN Find a Job in LTC?

The career paths for Long-Term Care RNs can vary greatly, depending on individual preference. RNs can choose from several healthcare settings in which to practice, including in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Memory Care, and Independent Living communities.

With a shortage of nurses and healthcare professionals in the industry and a variety of areas in which RNs can practice, job opportunities are vast, both in traditional settings and in the world of travel nursing.

Registered Nurses are able to work as Interim RNs, commonly referred to as travel nurses, where they can
expand their licensure to other states.

Typically, Travel RN jobs are set for a period of 30, 60 or 90 days, which provides opportunities to learn new systems, skills, and experience different work environments. These valuable skills can prove beneficial in career advancement.

Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in LTC


The job outlook for RNs is excellent! The U.S. Board of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employment for RNs is projected to increase by at least 9% by the year 2030. This anticipated growth is much

 faster than other industries, due to the aging of the general population. RNs will be needed in a greater capacity to meet this rising demand, and to fill vacant positions left by previous healthcare workers (Baby Boomers) hitting retirement age. With an already existing shortage in nurses, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, LTC registered nurses are needed more than ever.  

LTC Registered Nurse Salary Range

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses that practice in long-term care settings can expect an annual salary range of about $70,000. The healthcare setting in which an RN is employed can make a significant impact on salary earnings. Additional factors that can affect an RN’s salary include job title, the state in which they’re practicing, if they are working as an interim or permanent nurse, and cost of living.

For example, a Wound Care Nurse working in a Skilled Nursing Facility in California will likely be paid higher than a floor nurse RN working in the same building, since obtaining a specialty in wound care requires additional education and hands-on clinical hours.

LTC RN-Salary-1

Job Hunter Resources

LeaderStat helps the nation’s top healthcare, long-term care and senior living organizations fill nursing roles, which include interim staff nurse and RN leadership positions.

Our healthcare industry recruiters are knowledgeable of market trends, credentialing requirements, and healthcare recruitment, making them an invaluable resource to job seekers looking for a great career opportunity.

In addition to a great recruitment team, LeaderStat offers numerous resources to candidates, from
focusing on patient-centered communication styles to tips to make your resume stand out to potential employers. 

Healthcare Consulting | Recruiting | Staffing | LeaderStat

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