Job Title: Long Term Care Nurse
Education: chicago public schools practical nurse program, and after that medication certification program
Previous Experience: 4 and a half years as nurse as a hospital nurse on surgical unit, 9 years woking long term care with the elderly, 8 years working with the blind, and last 2 months in long term care
Job Tasks: A typical day consists of passing medications to 50 residents, following up on any change of condition that comes up, between 10am and 11am daily staff meeting to discuss residents and other issues such as compliance before city and state inspections. After the report is done, doctor calls are made to physicians to report labs and non-emergency follow up. In case of an emergency, e.g. heart attack/ chestpain, everything is on hold until the emergency is dealt with which entails notifying the resident's doctor, calling their family, calling 911, and notifying the hospital of the resident's name, condition, doctor and estimated time of arrival.
There is also checking the diabetics who have orders for blood sugars and insulin with lunch and passing lunch meds. There are at least two patients per floor who have feeding tubes and need to be fed every six hours, usually done while other residents are at lunch so the smell of the food doesn't get them too hungry. By 2 pm, it is time to pass afternoon medications. Sometimes there is a resident coming back from the hospital and lab tests coming in over the printer that need to be faxed to the doctors. Charting must be done on residents that have fallen, who are on antbiotics, or who have returned from the hospital or have had change in condition.
Sometimes a doctor will come and write orders on ten residents, requiring labs slips to be generated, and new medication orders to be faxed to the pharmacy, and requiring updating the medication administration books with new orders. Most of my day is spent in routine tasks which at any time can be interrupted with an emergency as the popoulation is 70 and older. For example, a resident may fall while going to the bathroom which may require an emergency evaluation and or hospitalization.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Emergencies give you chance to problem solve on the fly and kick it up a notch, but, they are also the worst because all the routine things still need to be done. When the staff is focusing on one resident and preparing them for transfer, it is not unusual for another resident to fall or have a problem, and it is not unusual to have two residents have an emergency at the same time, both requiring transfer.
Job Tips: Get as much hands-on experience as you can. As a new nurse I obtained a lot of experience working on the surgical unit, inserting catheters, assisting doctors with central lines, learning how to do complicated dressings. learning to assess and act on the information in a timely manner by reporting it to the proper person.
Additional Thoughts: Work as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) to get experience and observe any procedure you can to get an idea of what it entails.
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