Is it a bad move for a new grad to work in LTAC?

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Is it a bad move for a new grad to work in LTAC?

Hi Nurse Beth,

I am a newly graduated ADN RN and just got my license in the end of July. I applied for nurse residencies and staff nurse positions but haven't had any luck so far. I am also enrolled in a BSN program so moving out of the area isn't an option as I have to finish my clinical in Fall within certain neighbouring counties.

I want to work in critical care (ICU) in future and interviewed for a LTAC hospital today. I found from several sources that SNF experience may make it harder to get an acute care job at a bigger hospital. Would you know if LTAC experience is considered acute/critical care experience if I do end up having to work there?  

My plan is to continue applying to hospitals and use LTAC as a back up due to competitiveness of residency program in Bay Area. I was able to get a couple interviews but it was for multiple specialities and when asked I mentioned I was interested in critical care as my first choice which might've been a factor of not getting a job at all. 

I would really appreciate any advise you have. 

Thank you for taking out time to read this. Really appreciate it

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,211 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear New RN,

A warm congratulations on getting your RN!!

Landing your first job can be challenging, depending on where you live. It's a competitive market for new grads, which is why I wrote my book:

Your last to land your first nursing job.

I saw many bright new grads who didn't know how to stand out among other candidates, and I wanted to share my insider experience as a hiring manager.

When interviewing for a residency, being open-minded about your preferred specialty is important. If your ultimate goal is to work in acute care, securing a spot in a residency program is better than none at all. Remember that certain hospitals may have more available positions in areas such as MedSurg and Telemetry than ICU or ED.

If any local hospitals are sponsoring hiring mixers, do attend and network!

Interviewing Skills Your resume is landing you interviews, but your interviews are not landing you jobs. I can provide numerous tips to enhance your interview skills so you can excel and stand out during your interviews!

Keep in mind it is OK to contact the nurse recruiter or hiring manager after an interview to ask how you could have interviewed better. They may not always respond, but you have nothing to lose and could gain valuable insight. Read What am I doing wrong in interviews?

Interviewing well is the key to getting the job you want. They need to see that you are the solution to their problem. What does that mean? Read How to Answer "Tell Us About Yourself".

You have one shot at your interview. This is another must-read: How to Prepare for Interviews.

Don't give the (usual) wrong answer to this question:  How to Answer "What's your greatest weakness?"


Working in LTAC Working in a Long-Term Acute Care (LTAC) facility as a new graduate nurse can have advantages and challenges. Whether it's a good or bad move depends on your career goals, preferences, and the specific LTAC facility.

Here are some factors to consider:

Advantages of Working in an LTAC as a New Grad

  • Skill Development. LTACs often have patients with complex medical needs, providing opportunities to develop strong assessment, critical thinking, and patient management skills.
  • Exposure to Diverse Cases. You'll likely encounter various medical conditions, which can broaden your clinical experience and prepare you for different nursing situations.
  • Team Collaboration. LTACs typically involve close collaboration with a multidisciplinary team, which can help you develop your communication and teamwork skills.
  • Clinical Experience. The clinical experience gained in an LTAC can be valuable to your resume, demonstrating your ability to manage patients with various healthcare needs.
  • Patient Relationships. In a longer-term care setting like an LTAC, you can develop meaningful relationships with patients and their families.

Challenges of Working in an LTAC as a New Grad

  • Learning Curve. The learning curve in an LTAC can be steep due to the complexity of cases. As a new graduate, you might need additional time to acclimate to the environment.
  • Lack of Structure. Some LTACs might have less structured orientation programs for new graduates than larger hospitals, which could affect your transition into practice.
  • Less Exposure to Acute Care. While LTACs provide valuable experience, they do not offer the same level of exposure to high-acuity situations as an intensive care unit (ICU) in a larger hospital.
  • Limited Specialization. If your goal is to specialize in a particular area, such as critical care, working in an LTAC might not provide the same depth of experience in that specific area.
  • Transition to Acute Care. Depending on your long-term goals, transitioning from an LTAC to acute care at a larger hospital might require additional effort and adaptation due to differences in practices and patient acuity.

Although different from acute care, hospitals recognize the value of LTAC experience. By working in LTAC, you can develop time management skills and critical thinking abilities.

It's essential to showcase your skills and emphasize how your experience aligns with the acute care environment during your job application and interviews.

Highlight the skills you've developed, your commitment to patient care, and your adaptability to different nursing settings. Remember that nursing is a multifaceted field, and your experiences from LTAC can make you a stronger candidate in various healthcare settings.

Ultimately, the decision to work in an LTAC as a new grad depends on your preferences, career goals, and opportunities.

If you are considering LTAC nursing, consider researching the specific facility, talking to current or former employees, and asking about the orientation and support provided for new graduate nurses.

Remember that any nursing experience you gain early in your career can contribute to your overall skillset, so it's worth carefully considering how the role aligns with your goals and aspirations.


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