The benefits of choosing a career in health care are endless, and that’s what draws countless nursing students to the field. For starters, there is the tremendous satisfaction of being able to help those in need. You also get to learn the ins and outs of human anatomy and have peace of mind that there will always be a need for someone in your position. The harder question comes after graduation from nursing school, when it’s time to ask: “What type of medical field do I choose?”
A great answer to this question is the long term care profession. It can be easy for newly pinned nurses to overlook this field, but when it is chosen, it’s thoroughly enjoyed by all. New nurses should consider the following five benefits of working in long term care as they head toward graduation and a rewarding career:
1. Care is Patient-Focused
So many nurses get to spend only a few hours with a patient and then they’re gone or – if they’re lucky, they might see the same person a few times throughout the year. There’s no time to build a relationship or have authentic conversations. Working in a long term care center is a different environment altogether.
Nurses and CNAs in long term care centers have the time and ability to develop genuine relationships with the residents they serve. That makes it easier to identify when something may be “off” or which medication is working better than another. Being in daily contact with a patient allows health care professionals to provide more thorough and effective medical care
2. There is High Demand
The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 2016 there were 49.2 million Americans age 65 and older, 3.9 million of them in Florida alone. This number is expected to increase substantially, as older Americans are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country – the Census Bureau projects that by 2030, more than 74 million Americans will be 65 and older.
A continual growth in the number of older Americans means a continual growth in the need for quality health care professionals who are committed to these aging citizens. Choosing a career in the long term care field will provide plenty of available positions with a limited supply of people to fill them.
3. Every Day Can Be a History Lesson
Nurses and CNAs who have worked in long term care for any length of time no doubt have a library of incredible stories to tell about the residents they have cared for. Working with senior citizens can teach you more about historical events than any textbook ever could. From living through the Great Depression to surviving the Holocaust to seeing the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, those living in long term care centers have first-hand experiences that can leave their caregivers speechless.
4. Appreciation is Constant
Working in a long term care center tends to leave staff with a sense of being recognized and admired, even after the toughest days. Elderly patients who need help with basic daily tasks, such as brushing their teeth or combing their hair, tend to be filled with gratitude for their caregiver who is there for them in these simple ways.
Many residents of long term care centers can feel frustrated by their loss of independence, and the health care professionals taking care of them fill a void. It’s important to remember that while they may not always voice their appreciation, the little things do truly matter to them.
5. Skills are Challenged
There is no shortage of complex health problems inside a long term care center. The unique challenges nurses and CNAs face when working with the elderly allow for a wide range of skills to be used and honed on a daily basis.
From fall risk assessments and dementia care to enteral tube feedings and care planning, working in the long term care field will equip health care professionals with an arsenal of experiences they can carry with them throughout their career in health care.