While most elderly people prefer to live at home, many need medical care and daily living assistance to the extent where they have to live in senior-living facilities. Watching over these elderly patients are wellness nurses who fulfill many of the typical duties of registered nurses, but with an increased emphasis on improving the patient’s overall wellness and sense of well-being.
Wellness nurses work with elderly patients at hospice and nursing-home communities. These nurses are primarily focused on promoting the health and well-being of the patients at the health community. Wellness nurses are responsible for accommodating patients' preferences, and for improving the health of patients as much as possible through diet, exercise, medication and physical therapy. Wellness nurses monitor the health of the elderly patients, keep records of changes in the patient’s health and provide medical care to patients who need it. Wellness nurses are responsible for educating their patients so that the patients can take care of their own health, according to Sunrise Senior Living. Wellness nurses also communicate with the friends and family of the patient whenever necessary.
Wellness nurses usually work in clean and comfortable environments. Since elderly patients can need care at any hour, wellness nurses often work in shifts, with many working night shifts. Many nurses are also on call in case of an emergency. Wellness nurses may be in close contact with infectious diseases, but careful safety precautions can prevent infection.
The educational requirements of a wellness nurse are the same as the educational requirements for other registered nurses. The wellness nurse must earn a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or diploma from a college, university or hospital training program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then, the wellness nurse must become registered by passing the National Council Licensure Examination held by the state in which the nurse wishes to work. Wellness nurses often must have previous experience in home health, assisted living or a long-term care hospital, according to Sunrise Senior Living. The wellness nurse must be detail-oriented and have good assessment skills in order to determine the needs of the patient to provide proper medical care. Written and verbal communication skills are needed in order to effectively interact with patients and other staff members.
The need for registered nurses in nursing care facilities is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growth in the need for nurses in nursing care facilities is driven by an increased number of elderly patients.
Registered nurses in nursing care facilities are among the lowest-paid nurses. The median earnings for wellness nurses in 2008 were $57,060, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employers usually offer child care, education benefits and bonuses.