I chose to begin my career as an RN 3 years ago in LTC. I am constantly amazed that, even today, so many have the misconception that if you want to be a "REAL" nurse, you work in a hospital, and that LTC is for those poor souls who just couldn't cut it. I have noticed that 'hospital nurses' who come to work with us usually don't stay long... they just can't keep up!
I work 7p-7a in a 102 bed center, with a night staff of 3 nurses and 5 CNT's. 2/3 of our beds are skilled, and we care for patients of varying acuity, from terminal CA to post-surgical pts who are with us for rehab. We handle wound care,drains, decub care, IV's, TPN, GT's, NGT's, ventilators, PCA, portacaths, PICC's, TLC's, suctioning, peritoneal dialysis, and respiratory care. We care for pts who suffer from alzheimers, CVA's, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and the end results of diabetes. We provide end-of-life care, rehabilitation, psychological, emotional and spiritual support for those who have given us all so much, but so often are left alone when they can no longer 'keep up' with the rest of the world. We are diplomats, managers, nutritionists, plumbers, mechanics, detectives, engineers, and surrogate family members.
We have 24-7 access to our MD's, but they frequently rely on our assessment skills and knowledge of our patients when they make their treatment decisions.
True the paperwork will kill you. Government Regs will drive you NUTS. But when I go to work, my patients greet me with a smile and a hug, and their familes aren't afraid to leave them and go home for the night--we know each other, and they know I will care for their loved ones like they were my own....because they are. And even after my worst night, I can still honestly say, "I LOVE MY JOB!"