Among the many specialties in nursing, two stand out. While the foundations of care are the same, the population and setting are much different.
In one setting—acute care—nurses provide patients with short-term care; and long-term care (LTC) nursing involves caring for patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities for an extended period of time.
A job in LTC is often seen as a first step in a nursing career and a great way to get the experience required for career advancement. According to www.salary.com, the median annual salary for a staff nurse (RN) in LTC is $65,750, with a range usually between $58K - $73K. This can vary widely depending on a number of factors.
Long-term care nurses work in retirement communities, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.
Some of the tasks assigned to LTC nurses include:
At the same time, LTC nursing comes with its share of challenges. Nurses may have difficulty communicating with patients who cannot express their needs, and must deal with the circumstances surrounding an extended stay patient. Also, family dynamics among patients can be complicated, especially if there are several family members involved and not all agree. Ultimately, nurses are forced to deal with the decline of patients' health as they age.
In general, acute care nurses earn more than their LTC counterparts, but as always this can vary depending on numerous factors. The median annual for a staff nurse (RN) in acute care is $69,375, with a range usually between $60K - $80K, per www.salary.com.
Acute care nurses work in physicians' offices, hospitals, urgent care centers, and healthcare clinics.
Acute care nurses:
The challenges that come with acute care nursing include time management stress, such as being forced to work overtime hours during staffing shortages, and fitting in continuing education requirements. A job in acute care nursing continues to evolve to meet the needs of the ever-changing healthcare system.
If you've worked in both LTC and acute care, which setting do you prefer? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Leave us a comment below.
For more information on how Lippincott Solutions can help support Long-Term Care at your facility, visit http://lippincottsolutions.com/ltc. Attending the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long-Term Care (NADONA/LTC) conference from 7/24 – 7/29? Come visit us in booth #121 and grab a free $5 Starbucks card for taking our very brief LTC survey!