How to Manage Travel Nurse Long-Term Care

There are so many specialties and opportunities for travel nurses to gain experience and find their passion. But have you ever considered a career in long-term healthcare? In travel nursing, long-term care is a specialty that many nurses often overlook, but it has its benefits.

Being a long-term care travel nurse is a unique and rewarding career. As a long-term care nurse, you’re responsible not only for the quality of care for residents and patients but the quality of their livelihood as well. You have a significant impact on people’s lives which takes a big heart and a lot of empathy. 

Working as an LTC travel nurse isn’t as glamorous as other travel nurse specialties. As with any career, it’s always best to look at both sides before jumping into anything. If you are considering taking the leap into LTC travel nursing, there are a few things to know.

Developing Bonds With Patients And Their Families

Travel nurses working in long-term care will take care of the same patients daily for an extended period. Your patients could include geriatric patients in a nursing home or disabled patients who cannot live alone. You’ll also have the chance to build meaningful relationships with their families—some of these bonds will be deeper than anything you could get from a traditional hospital environment. It will be up to you to help educate, guide, and comfort patients and their families during their time in your care.

Successfully developing these bonds can make saying goodbye much harder if and when that time comes—it’s never easy losing a patient. However, some patients may resent surrendering their independence and become depressed or uncooperative, making it difficult to form a bond and properly care for them. Family members may also be challenging to deal with when they visit, questioning the care their loved ones are receiving. All this can sometimes generate emotional stress for the nursing staff.

LTC Travel Nursing Hours

Like hospitals, nursing homes and off-site facilities operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—most states require at least one registered nurse to be on duty at all times. Because long-term care is a 24/7 job, your shift can fit into a different time slot than a standard 8 to 5 or a 3-day shift. Nursing homes may require RNs to work nights, holidays, and weekends to meet legal staffing requirements.

Some nursing homes schedule RNs for 12-hour shifts; if the nurse scheduled to work the following shift fails to show, the on-duty nurse may have to work overtime. Also, unskilled nursing staff sometimes fly under the radar, so you could find yourself pulling the weight of some of your team in addition to your own duties. If you’re expecting to extend the assignment, here are a few ways to prepare and some snacking tips to keep you moving throughout the day.

Patient Acuity Growth

Patient acuity has grown everywhere, not only in hospital settings but in long-term care facilities too. In recent years, the acuity levels have risen due to pressure to discharge patients out of the hospital faster. Acute care hospitals are sending patients to long-term care for post-stay treatment, some as soon as two days postoperative. So now, long-term care facilities cater to two levels: recovery patients and end-of-life, long-term patients. As a result, there is a wide range of responsibilities placed on LTC travel nurses because of these different needs.

While this does come with a heavier load, travel nurses can still gain assessment skills and firsthand experience on various health issues. Not only will you get hands-on experience in a clinical setting, but you can learn from the life experience of your patients as well. Talking with them helps build a rapport from a patient care perspective while instilling a comforting relationship in their lives as they tell you their life lessons. Travel nursing is full of opportunities to make your career your own, and there are many paths to explore to find what’s just right for you.

It takes a particular, patient-focused type of person to become an amazing long-term care travel nurse. Your experiences and education are what you make them, so be sure to keep an open mind and heart. If you’re ready to try long-term care travel nursing or want to see your options, visit our travel nurse jobs page. There are plenty of travel nurse assignments to choose from!

See you soon!

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