Nurses are the primary caregivers in nursing homes, responsible for offering palliative and medical care to residents. Unlike in hospitals, residents of nursing homes are often there for the long-term, and it’s this tenure that presents its own unique set of challenges for nurses in the most heavily regulated industry in the US.
Here, the Conexus Medstaff team has come together to outline the seven key qualities that are essential if you’re looking to continue your career as a nursing home nurse in the US.
1. Stakeholder management
Nurses take on a wide range of responsibilities within a nursing home. You will work front-of-house, responding to requests from the families of residents, advise and fulfill instructions from doctors, and even manage the wider medical team. You also need to be an excellent planner when it comes to arranging appropriate tests, screens, and scans. It’s this role diversity that means you need to be agile, flexible and have the confidence to manage everyone you come into contact with effectively.
2. Clinical skills
Nursing home nurses are required to possess excellent clinical skills, which you will develop through the lab component of your education program. You need to be able to set up and monitor IVs, give tube feedings, change bandages, administer shots, advise residents on prescription usage, and provide ongoing support.
3. Bedside manner
While you may think this goes without saying, it is a bit more nuanced for professionals working in nursing homes. You, of course, have to be able to sensitively and effectively respond to care needs; however, you will often strike up longer-lasting relationships with residents and their families. It can be a more natural setting in which to get to know residents personally, which is a great advantage when it comes to effectively identifying their needs. This means you have to be patient and empathetic towards residents who place their ultimate trust in you on a day-to-day basis.
4. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is the process of intentional higher-level thinking to describe a resident’s problem, examining the evidence-based practice in caring for them, and making choices on the type of care that they require. In her paper, Critical Thinking in Long-Term Care Nursing, Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN identifies the following attributes of critical thinking in residential care:
Evaluating all evidence and facts.
Exploring consequences before making decisions or taking action.
Making confident decisions.
Asking the right questions.
Rejecting incorrect information.
5. Eye for detail
Nursing homes are busy places with residents, support staff and visitors in one place. As a result, it can be easy to miss vital information while you are busy completing your long list of daily tasks. Nurses working in the nursing home setting are not only the primary point of caregiving, but are the eyes and ears of the whole institution, and responsible for mitigating issues and resolving any potential problems before they occur. By keeping your eyes and ears open at all times, you can help to reduce any margin for error.
Across the board, nurses expect long and demanding shifts. Physical stamina is required with nurses spending the majority of their shifts on their feet. Aside from being physically hard work, nursing is mentally demanding with accurate and informed decisions made daily on the care of the residents. Plus, there’s your emotional endurance to consider when you are working with residents in long-term care, especially as bonds are likely to form.
This is a crucial skill for nursing home nurses. You will work with a broad range of residents with different cultural and religious beliefs, not to mention different personalities. Being able to integrate an individual’s values and beliefs into their care is fundamental in the role of a nursing home nurse.
The experienced and dedicated team at Conexus Medstaff place the very best international nurses and US-based overseas graduates into leading nursing homes across 25 states in the US. Learn more about our new download, the Complete Guide to Long-Term Care Nursing.