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Travel nursing and skilled nursing facilities

When you decide to take on a travel nursing role, you may not be sure of where you prefer to work yet. In fact, this is one of the best perks of a travel nursing job – having the opportunity to learn in a variety of settings. When you get your first job as a travel nurse, you may end up in a hospital, like you're used to, or you can be placed in another healthcare setting, like a nursing home, clinic or skilled nursing facility. Some healthcare professionals who are assigned to a skilled nursing facility may not be sure what to expect, so here is some important information that anyone beginning to work in an SNF should know:

What is a skilled nursing facility?
The point of a SNF is to provide hands on and comprehensive care to patients who require intense specific medical attention. In many cases, this requires specialized nurses and licensed healthcare professionals who manage, observe, and evaluate care. While an SNF typically offers many of the same services as a nursing home or hospital, like rehabilitation services and around-the-clock care, the purpose of these facilities is to get patients back on their feet and/or to provide skilled medical expertise and services. According to SkilledNursingFacilities.org, nurses that take on roles at an SNF should have experience in the following:

  • Wound care.
  • Terminal illness care.
  • Speech, physical and occupational therapy.
  • Parkinson's care.
  • Stroke recovery care.
  • Custodial care.

Some may use the terms "nursing home" and "SNF" interchangeably. However, according to Aging Care, a major difference between nursing homes and SNFs is the fact that skilled nursing facilities are covered by Medicare, for at least a certain period of time, while nursing homes are usually not covered.

There are many different varieties of skilled nursing facilities, but they aren't to be confused for senior assisted living facilities. SNFs offer more comprehensive care for their residents. Some rooms are individual, while others are shared with other residents. This is a good option for couples who are moving into a skilled nursing facility together. Some SNFs solely rely on cafeteria-style meals, while others have mini kitchens available right in the residents' rooms.

Travel nurses who work in SNFs will have to act as the patient's advocates.Travel nurses who work in SNFs will have to act as the patient's advocates.

When an SNF is necessary
Many families struggle with the decision to move their loved ones to a skilled nursing facility. Some families could be worried about how their loved one will be treated at an SNF while others may be worried about how the family will be able to afford it. While some families move their loved ones into SNFs for long-term care, it's also a good place for someone to live while they recover from a surgery or injury. If a family's loved one currently lives alone and has a high risk of falling or family members don't live close enough to properly care for him or her, an SNF can be beneficial for everyone involved.

If financial matters are worrisome for the family, there are many situations in which Medicare will cover skilled nursing facility stays. This includes a semi-private room, meals, nursing care, medications, medical supplies, ambulances and dietary counseling. Medicare also states that physical and occupational therapy will be covered if they're necessary, as will speech-language pathology services.

"The role of an SNF nurse is more focused."

Should you work at an SNF?
There are many careers available with skilled nursing facilities, According to Aging Care, in addition to full times and travel nursing jobsoccupational therapy jobs, medical directors, practical and vocational nurses, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists are needed on staff. However, it takes a certain type of person to get the most out of their job at an SNF. While some people enjoy the high-energy environment of the emergency room, the role of the nurses at an SNF is more focused on creating a safe and healthy environment for the residents as well as caring for their specific medical needs.

An SNF is a great environment for people who like to get to know their patients and coworkers. SNF nurses may find themselves becoming attached to their patients, which leads to very fulfilling days on the job. However, this attachment can make it difficult for nurses if the patient dies or is discharged. Working in a hospital doesn't always allow you enough time to  make long-term connections with patients, but forming bonds in an SNF is one of the highlights of the job.

"You may be interested in pursuing geriatric nursing."

Geriatric nurses
If you find you enjoy positions in skilled nursing facilities the most when you're working as a travel nurse, you may want to pursue a career in geriatric nursing. Geriatric nurses have specific expertise in conditions that are most frequent in senior patients, like cardiovascular conditions, as well as neurological ones like Alzheimer's disease and dementia. In addition to taking the physical and mental aspects of a patient's condition into consideration, a geriatric nurse also needs to be a healthcare advocate for his or her patients. This can include talking about the resident's condition with his or her family and insurance company, as well giving the resident an ear to confide in. Many residents of skilled nursing facilities are undergoing a lot of changes as they age, some of which may be alarming to them. A travel nurse making the transition to geriatric nursing will have to be comfortable with all of these things.

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