Those interested in long-term care might consider a career as a registered nurse or a long-term care administrator. The minimum education for these positions ranges from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree, and licensure is required for registered nurses. Both positions are expected to see significant job growth through 2024, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Long-term care is offered in various private homes and health care facilities, including convalescent homes, hospices and assisted-living centers. Registered nurses supervise staff and plan care for patients with long-term needs. These professionals must complete a degree in nursing and pass national licensure. Long-term care administrators generally need a master's degree in health care administration, public health or social work.
|Career||Registered Nurse||Long-Term Care Administrator|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree and licensure||Master's degree preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||16%*||17% for medical and health services managers*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$67,490*||$94,500 for medical and health services managers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Long-term Care Nurse Job Descriptions
Registered nurses (RNs) monitor patients, develop patient care plans, implement treatments and provide guidance. RNs who provide in-home care or who work in a care facility can supervise the work of licensed practical nurses (LPNs), nursing assistants or home care aides. Clinical nurses and nurse practitioners can be primary caregivers and are responsible for making diagnosis and prescribing treatments for patients.
RNs monitor a patient's vital signs and symptoms, maintain records, deliver medication and implement other treatments. Under the direction of RNs, aides and assistants can monitor patients, as well as feed, clothe, change linens and assist with personal hygiene. In smaller facilities, RNs may assume many duties performed by aides.
RNs typically complete a nursing associate's or bachelor's degree program before seeking entry-level work. More clinical experience is available through bachelor's degree nursing programs, which can enhance opportunities for employment in health care facilities. LPNs complete year-long training programs offered by vocational schools and community colleges. Completion of a graduate degree program is preferable for nurses seeking advancement to management positions and is required for clinical nurses and nurse practitioners.
All nurses must obtain a license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination. Certification is required for nursing assistants, though it is not necessary for aide positions.
Due to increased preventive care and an aging population, the BLS reports that the employment growth for RNs is expected to be 16% from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for RNs as of May 2015, the BLS further reports, was $67,490.
Long-Term Care Administrator Job Description
Health care managers and social workers plan, organize and coordinate the services provided at health care facilities. Managers supervise non-medical departments and personnel, oversee finances and coordinate policy with medical professionals. They can also arrange support and recreational activities for their patients.
Health care managers and administrators set budgets, hire staff, coordinate training, set policy goals, ensure compliance with government regulations and maintain records. Managers also choose billing systems and the acquisition of new equipment and technology. They can also provide psychological support by arranging for additional care and support groups.
Entry-level work in health care management can be pursued after completing a bachelor's degree program, but completion of a master's degree program is preferred. Relevant fields of study include public health, health sciences, public administration and social work. Social workers and administrators in nursing and assisted-living facilities are required by all states to be licensed.
The BLS states that the job growth rate between 2014 and 2024 for medical and health services managers is expected to be 17%, mainly due to an increased demand for health care services. The median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $94,500 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
A career in long-term care can lead down numerous different paths. Those who choose to become registered nurses will need to complete a nursing program from an accredited institution and become licensed. Long-term care administrators should consider earning a master's degree for the best job outlook, but might be able to get by with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study.