Long Term Care Nursing

I am a geriatric nurse. By choice. I have a BS in nursing from Rush University, 1978. I have a scattering of graduate credits in parent-child nursing from Rush and NIU. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Long Term Care Nursing

I was "high power" for 20 years. I lived the fast lane at Rush University Medical Center, U of Illinois Hospital and Clinics, and 13 years at Loyola University Medical Center.

Suddenly, in 2001, my life changed. I was not happy about it. I missed the medical center atmosphere so much! I dabbled in Public Health. I am still in the Medical Reserve Corps for my county. But county politics? OMG.

A few years ago, Three exactly, my mom began deteriorating. My brilliant mother, an RN, herself, developed dementia. I needed to know what to do for her.

I felt I was "lowering" myself a bit, driving into an LTC facility. After all, there is a stigma about LTC nurses. They are the nurses who cannot manage anywhere challenging. But Mom needed me to be knowledgeable, and savvy. To be an informed consumer. She did not know that, but I did.

So I told myself that this would be a brief stint until I got things back together again. Then I could go back to "high power."

Little did I realize that I was walking into HIGH POWER! Whoa!

I was so impressed by my colleagues. What an incredible group of clinical nurses! LPN's included. My career had been women, and children's health, including clinical trials.

I had limited med/surg background. But the fine, HARD, physiology courses from my bachelor's education came back to me. I had been educated, not trained. And these nurses, LTC nurses became my mentors.

I had mastery of women's health. Gyne Onc, Infertility, Menopause, gynecology, perinatology, so many things. I was at the top of my game. And the research, I loved it! I helped our OB residents set up their studies. I was involved in the college of nursing.

And here I was in a "nursing home". I did figure out how to help mom. And as siblings, we had our differences. My sister was POA. So we kept her at home with a caregiver. I thought that a beautiful private assistive living center would have been better for her.

But I realized that the relationship with my sister was much more important than disagreeing about the placement of mom. because I knew that her outcome would have been the same, either way.

But the time did come to move her to the assisted living place of my choice. My sister and I made the decision together. She was all ready to move. The Dr. appointment, the TB test, all of that on Friday. On Sunday, she stroked.

The following weeks were a blur. And heart-wrenching. Mom died on hospice. The one I chose, in the facility I chose. NOT the one I worked in. I had been doing the behind the scenes work of checking out facilities and getting her on the waiting list.

But this was all, in hindsight, a gift to me. I understand families as they grope to deal with aging parents. Dementia, or stroke, always comes as an incredible surprise. I understand them. There are few right answers. It is just trying to make the best decision one can make with the tools that they have.

I realized that LTC nursing was hard for the inferior nurse at all. NOT ONE BIT!!! It is very acute, and very busy. Our patient load is staggering, And people are not well. They are very sick. They go downhill rapidly. We have lines, and wounds, thach's, tubes, and nebs. We do them ourselves.

I did try to go back "high power" a few months ago. Then I discovered that I truly did not want to. Amazing!! I did not want to, after all.

I wanted to do LTC. LTC is as challenging to me as PICU or L&D at a medical center. I am just not running to codes, or hopping onto beds, with my fingers up a woman's cervix, riding with her into the OR. I'm too old for that anymore.

Also, in honor of women, I had cared for I have become a breast cancer awareness advocate. I have been medical crew for some of the walks. It has been incredible. And I have met nurses from all areas of practice. We crew together in the same teams. We have bonded so much.

So I recently became medical crew for a different organization. As I called the nurse medical crew coordinator for my assignment, I was floored.

She told me something to the effect that I was going to be in triage, because she did not think I could handle the acuity of the medical tent. IV's and emergencies and things. It became a very unpleasant discussion. I was incensed. There were other things that went on. But the stigma does exist. The stigma that LTC nurses, are fit to only do BP's, and pass pills.

LTC is my choice. I have grown to love it. Me, the nurse who was told that I have so much promise I am doing my finest work now.

And when I was a different nurse, I never would have believed that.

Thank you, Mom. For what you have given me.

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Specializes in Geriatrics.

It's wonderful for people to understand what we, as LTC nurses do. Yes, it is different, but we have had many hospital nurses come to work at my facility and stay only a day or two. (especially due to high nurse:resident ratios) Thank you for showing the other side of things.

Specializes in Long term care, ER, MS and management.

Thanks for sharing the other side to long term care nursing. It is not for everyone and for those of that stay it is a choice we make

It's a different kind of calling to be in LTC. I am the nurse who sits and holds grandma's hand as she boasts that her granddaughter is a "nurse too". I am also the one that investigates "my privates hurt". It is true that I pass alot of pills. All the calciums and the vitamins and the nebs are my responsibility. But I always have time to put my arm around a resident and listen to what is on their mind. I have time to bring a smile to their face. It is the last years, months, days of their lives and if I can enrich them in some way, I feel I have accomplished my purpose. It may not be dramatic, but I am fufilled by it.:redpinkhe

thank you very much

Just wanted to say AWSOME artical ! ! !:bow:

I am a RN of 8 years. All in long term care, by choice. :redbeathe

I'm glad your experience in long term care has changed your "stigma":yeah:

Finally so one understands and is bringing to the light all the hard work we do as LTC nurses. It is a very demanding area. Not only do we pass meds, we do dressing changes, peg tubes, traches, foley insertion and changes, breathing treatments, and those of us that are trained even do IVs. On top of that we deal with family members, schedule appts and procedures, arrange transportation , chart, do rounds with the doctors, ect... SO we are usually busy all day everyday...people don't understand what we do on a daily basis while carrying a pt load of 20-30 pts. THANK YOU!!


I'm new in this site, I joined because of this thread which melted my heart. :redbeatheI'm a young nurse, only a year and a half in a hospital setting. I worked immediately after graduating and I have been in and out of a lot of wards but I really enjoyed the grandmas and grandpas of the hospital (because in our provincial hospital we don't have the geria ward yet)...Maybe because I am very close to my grandma and that every time I takes care of an elderly, I get very emo! I don't know why...maybe because one incident in my college life was etched in my memory and I have never forgotten it and every time I go down the memory lane, I always get lumps in my throat, this never fails to make me want to cry. This happened in the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Manila when I was still a student at Far Eastern University. Our patients were the elderly as this is a veteran hospital and I was assigned at the ortho. One of the resident told me after I gave her medicine and put her in a comfortable position (she looked up at me with her loving grandma gazed) "Maraming salamat ineng,kung hindi man ako makapagpasalamat sayo ng lubusan, ang Dyos na ang bahalng gumanti sayo." And I immediately left the room after saying "okay lang po" (because I can't hold back my tears anymore). And as I was typing this, I am shedding tears... I'm so emotional! Grrr! But this left a big happy hole in my heart and this made me love my job more despite the low pay here in my province (I went back to our province in Isabela to share my knowledge and skills here). But I have plans in going to Canada to be with my mom who is a cook there (she just went there a year ago). Right now, I am having a hard time finding LTC nurse position. But anyway, I would just like to say that I love my job and that I love helping other people and making them happy. Take care everyone! :nurse:

I went the other way opposite. I was a 20 year veteran of geriatric nursing and at one time a Director of Nursing in a dementia facility. But my mother, an intelligent, humorous, nurse became ill with dementia. She was far away 200 miles and I started to feel families feelings first hand. I was frightened and guilty that I could not go home to care for her. So I decided to become a orthopedic staff nurse and I really loved it... I dont understand why other nurses think you don't work hard in a nursing home, these folks are really sick and 10 years ago would be on a med/surg floor. Please share your thoughts with me.