What are the Different Types of Nursing Jobs in Nursing Homes?

Donn Saylor
Donn Saylor
A geriatric nurse practitioner specializes in caring for the elderly.
A geriatric nurse practitioner specializes in caring for the elderly.

There are four main types of nursing jobs in nursing homes: registered nurses (RNs), geriatric nurses, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nurse's aids (CNAs). All nursing facilities will typically have any number of RNs and CNAs, but many long-term care units — especially larger facilities — will employ all four types of nurses. Each of these nursing home jobs has a distinct set of functions and responsibilities, and each requires a different level of education.

Geriatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.
Geriatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.

An RN holds a two- or four-year degree in nursing. He or she is charged with a high level of responsibility and patient care. RN nursing jobs in nursing homes will typically entail monitoring patients, dispensing and administering medication, handling emergencies, diagnostic testing, and educating patients. Many nursing homes do not have a doctor on duty full-time, so the RN is the first point of contact between the resident and the medical staff. He or she is required to work well under stress, possess exceptional organizational and management skills, and have a firm but sympathetic bedside manner.

Nurses may help residents with physical therapy.
Nurses may help residents with physical therapy.

Another of the most common nursing jobs in nursing homes is that of an LPN. LPNs can be easily confused with RNs, but the level of responsibility and education is vastly different. LPNs achieve certification after a year of study, and they usually work under the supervision of an RN. Nursing home jobs for this type of nurse will often find the LPN handling tasks determined by the RN; these may include recording vital signs, maintaining resident's medical charts, and ensuring the smooth operation of the facility. RNs commonly have more medical duties than LPNs; RNs also make a significantly larger salary.

An RN who works in a nursing home is charged with a high level of responsibility and patient care.
An RN who works in a nursing home is charged with a high level of responsibility and patient care.

A less common type of nursing position in a nursing home is the geriatric nurse. Geriatric nurses are normally RNs who have specialized study or experience in treating the elderly. Since aging individuals in long-term care facilities have a distinct set of medical needs — and oftentimes numerous medical conditions to contend with — geriatric nurses utilize their specialized knowledge to provide treatment. Geriatric nurses are usually in very high demand.

Among all nursing jobs in nursing homes, the CNA is the most visible. He or she has completed a course in nursing assistance and received a certification. The CNA works closely with both nurses and residents to ensure the needs of the residents are being satisfactorily met. Much of the more hands-on work falls to the CNA; this could include bathing and dressing residents, helping residents use the restroom, and assisting with meals and feeding.

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    • A geriatric nurse practitioner specializes in caring for the elderly.
      A geriatric nurse practitioner specializes in caring for the elderly.
    • Geriatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.
      Geriatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with patients and their caregivers.
    • Nurses may help residents with physical therapy.
      Nurses may help residents with physical therapy.
    • An RN who works in a nursing home is charged with a high level of responsibility and patient care.
      An RN who works in a nursing home is charged with a high level of responsibility and patient care.