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Nursing homes provide growing career opportunities

Occupational therapists help patients with daily living skills.


The health care industry is a strong growth market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics Highlights Report, 2018 ended with 50,000 new jobs in December. Most of that job growth was in ambulatory health care services, home health services and small health care offices.

However, hospitals and nursing homes represented very little growth in December of 2018 with hospitals adding 7,400 and nursing homes only 700 positions.

Many signs indicate it will be these areas will be the greatest growth potential for people exploring health care careers.

Baby Boomer generation

“Baby Boomers” is the term used to describe the generation of Americans whose birthdays roughly fall between the years 1946 through 1964. The period that saw a marked rise in the population’s birthrate followed the tumultuous Great Depression and World War II.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal 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 between now and 2029.

The Baby Boomers will enter this new health care market with much different medical conditions than the prior generation. This generation faces obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, high-blood pressure and 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 and the community.

Our blog will briefly describe jobs and opportunities in nursing homes.

Nursing Shortage

Health care providers are facing a drastic shortage in filling registered nurse positions, and there are many factors contributing to the current shortage. Some of those factors include some 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.

While the situation has improved in the past few years as more Millennials enter the nursing field, U.S. News and World Report makes the distinction that there are not enough nurses in rural areas and those who want to work with the geriatric population.

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.   

CNAs

Along with nurses, the demand for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) will 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 typically clean and help bathe patients, help with toileting and dressing, turn and reposition patients as well as transfer them from wheelchairs to beds.

They also take patient’s vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature and serve as a communicator to the nursing teams by talking with and listening to their patients.

Therapy

All skilled nursing homes offer short-term rehabilitation as a service for their patients. More and more patients are being referred to nursing homes for treatments ranging from 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 has opportunities for social workers and individuals with business administration and accounting backgrounds. Social workers are a key component for patients (see our History of Social Workers blog). Social workers are known for giving a voice for those in need.

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

Environmental, Dietary, Activity Departments

Other opportunities for employment in a nursing home 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 social 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 also take patients to community activities such as fairs and festivals, parades and other celebrations. In addition, they help plan fishing trips and other activities to engage the patients in things they 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: Brandon S. Totten, MAJ, is the Community Relations Manager for AMFM Nursing & Rehabilitation Centers. 

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