Skilled Nursing Facility Jobs
Skilled nursing facilities include assisted living facilities (ALF), long term care (LTC), and long term acute care (LTAC). Working at an SNF means you’ll be caring for some of the most vulnerable patients including the frail, the cognitively impaired, and those without involved family members nearby. Newly licensed RNs will often need to start their careers at a nursing home, as hospitals have become more reluctant to hire inexperienced bedside nurses. Consider gaining a few years of experience before seeking out a more specialized role.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of adults 65 and older will double between 2012 and 2050 to nearly 84 million people. The aging-in-place movement is picking up traction as the number of older adults increase, yet for many elderly people aging at home will not be a viable option. Because of this, it’s expected that job opportunities in skilled nursing facilities are set to increase.
Unfortunately, during recent years nursing homes have been stigmatized. This is a result of media investigations uncovering cases of neglect, elder abuse, and even assault. This stigmatization and the resulting reluctance of elderly people and their families are just some of the reasons that nursing homes need compassionate, dedicated nurses who will stand up and advocate for their patients.
What is a Skilled Nurse for a Nursing Facility?
There are several ways in which an SNF job may differ from a bedside nursing job in a hospital.
Nursing homes, LTCs, and LTACs tend to have a higher patient to nurse ratios. This can run as high as 15 to one because the patients are assumed to be more medically stable. Staffing formulas often rely on a higher number of LPNs and nursing aides to assist patients with bathing, toileting, and feeding themselves. Yet, as hospital stays grow shorter, the patients who transition to SNFs may still have PICC lines, ostomies, infectious diseases, or wounds that need constant monitoring and attention by a nurse. As a result, time management skills and efficiency are extremely important in an SNF. A nurse will have sole responsibility for several patients at once, and there will be paperwork and documentation to handle, as well as family members to update.
A key benefit of working in an SNF is that you’ll be able to form close bonds with your patients and their families. This is because the inpatient population turnover is much lower than it is in hospitals. You can share in birthday and other family celebrations, visits from therapy animals, and personal milestones. It’s also common to become familiar with patients’ individual needs, which often leads to an exceptionally high standard of care.
Is Working in an SNF Right for You?
If you enjoy working with the elderly and building close relationships with your patients, a career in skilled nursing facilities may be for you. If you are already working on SNFs, you might even consider earning certification in geriatric nursing or moving into a management position.
- Overall management and evaluation of care plans.
- Observation and assessment of the patient’s changing condition.
- Levin tube and gastrostomy feedings.
- Ongoing assessment of rehabilitation needs and potential.
- Therapeutic exercises or activities.
- Gait evaluation and training.