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Career opportunities in health and long-term care, skilled nursing homes has growth on the horizon

Published on Apr 21, 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics Highlights Report in December 2020, employment in health care increased by 29,000. Since April, the health care profession has recovered 1.1 million of the 1.6 million jobs lost in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue recovery, opportunity for job growth in long-term care centers is going to be critical to care for the number of people who may need long-term care services.  

Baby Boomer Generation
“Baby Boomers” is the generation of Americans who were born between 1946 -1964. The period saw a marked rise in the population’s birthrate after the Great Depression and World War II. 

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 76.4 million Baby Boomers. By 2029, the last of the Baby Boomers will hit retirement age, and the health care needs of these individuals is going to jump dramatically. 

Baby Boomers will enter this new health care market with different medical conditions than previous generations. They may face obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, high-blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cancer and more. 
When this generation reaches retirement age, there will be an increased need for nursing homes and greater communication with other health providers in the community. 

This blog briefly describes jobs and employment opportunities in nursing homes. 

Nursing Shortage
Health care providers are facing a shortage in registered nurse positions, and there are several factors contributing to the shortage. One factor includes older nurses who are eligible for retirement but choose to remain in the workforce for financial reasons. The health care profession experienced the greatest decline in retirement than any other market. Additionally, a shortage of nursing instructors created a nursing school waiting list and decreased the number of nurses entering the workforce. 

New opportunities in nursing have emerged since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Infection preventionist (IP) positions are more common. IP should have clinical expertise and use critical thinking skills to engage in practices of infection risk assessment, surveillance analysis, investigation and control of healthcare acquired infections and outbreaks.
It is a rewarding career path as many providers are offering incentives such as sign-on bonuses for RN and LPN candidates, continuing education opportunities, scholarships and more.   

Certified Nursing Assistants
The demand for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) will also increase. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an increase of 18% through 2024. Almost 300,000 new CNAs will be needed to meet the demand of health care providers.  
CNAs provide basic care and help with daily living activities. They help clean and bathe patients, with toileting, dressing, and repositioning patients as well as transfer them from wheelchairs to beds. 

They also take patient’s vital signs such as blood pressure, temperature and serve as a communicator to the nursing teams by talking with and listening to their patients. 
To compete with the demand for CNAs, companies offer CNA training programs and courses to certify more CNAs.

Therapy
Skilled nursing homes offer short-term rehabilitation for patients. More patients are being referred to nursing homes for treatments after surgeries such as hip replacements to stroke recovery than ever before. Physical, occupational and speech therapists work to treat patients and help return them to their highest functional abilities. 

Physical therapists (PTs) help patients recuperate from an injury, illness, or surgery. They assist patients with regaining movement and managing pain associated with recovery. They are licensed to practice therapy and provide treatments. PT aides help prepare for upcoming therapy sessions, assist patients from one area of treatment to another and assist PTs with other duties. 

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language and swallowing issues for patients recovering from strokes or other medical conditions that may affect these areas of a patient’s life.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) treat injured, ill, or disabled patients with everyday activities they may need when returning home. They help patients develop, improve, and maintain skills needed for daily living or working. A few examples include cooking, feeding, dressing, folding laundry, and other skills necessary for independence.         

Social Work, Administration 
Nursing homes have opportunities for social workers and individuals with business administration and accounting backgrounds. Social workers are a key component for patients and families (see our History of Social Workers blog). ¬¬¬

Nursing Home Administrators (NHAs) can come from a variety of backgrounds. NHAs may have degrees in business administration, nursing, social work, or other fields. 

Environmental, Dietary, Activity Departments
Other opportunities for employment in a nursing home may fall into these departments, which are instrumental in enriching the quality of life for patients. 
Environmental, or sometimes referred to as housekeeping, help ensure the physical location is clean, safe and meets all state and federal standards.
Certified Dietary Managers (CDMs) lead the dietary departments in providing nutritious, well-balance foods for patients. This may include special dietary requirements for a variety of patient needs. 

Activity professionals play a crucial role in helping plan and implement special events at the center. Several centers have annual pig roasts, carnivals, and proms for their patients. Activities will host these events and arrange ice cream trucks to come to the center, local musicians to perform, church services and dinner parties. They help make special events for patients who may have a wedding anniversary or other reasons to celebrate a joyous day.   

Activity professionals take patients to community activities such as fairs, parades, other celebrations, and other activities patients may have once loved doing or have never done before.

This is an overview of the career opportunities in the skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and long-term care profession. For more information, contact or visit your local nursing center.  

Author: Christina Kohler, M.S. is the Talent Management Coordinator for AMFM Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers.