Working as a registered nurse in a nursing home is a highly demanding career choice; however, it may also be very rewarding. The RN unit manager accepts responsibility not only for patients who can't care for themselves but also for staff members assisting with care, such as licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants.
Education and Licensing Requirements
Working as an RN manager requires a current license issued after passing the NCLEX exam.The minimal educational requirement for a unit manager in a nursing home generally depends upon facility policy -- an RN may have either an associate or bachelor’s degree to become a licensed registered nurse. Some facilities may require a bachelor’s degree, whereas, others may accept an associate degree with clinical experience.
An RN manager in a nursing home also works in the unit taking care of patients. She performs the common duties of other nurses, including following physician orders and administering medication, creating patient care plans, flushing feeding tubes, cleaning tracheostomy sites and educating families about patient care. In a nursing home, the RN manager often cares for several patients with diabetes on a daily basis. The unit manager makes sure all documentation related to patient care is complete at the end of the shift as well.
Managing a unit in a nursing home requires excellent communication and management skills as well as clinical skills. The manager coordinates patient care by assigning duties to nursing assistants, such as administering bed baths and enemas, checking blood sugar and emptying catheter bags. Since the unit manager also creates the employee schedule and submits payroll, she must also have good computer skills. When a new employee starts, the RN manager often handles orientation and training.
While working as a unit manger in a nursing home is very rewarding, it may also be challenging at times. First, most patients in the nursing home are there for long-term care and will eventually die there. The RN must be willing to accept this fact. Second, nursing home staffing often meets only minimal state requirements. Therefore, RN managers often work long hours, since federal law requires an RN on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the Skilled Nursing Facility website. Most of the work requires standing and walking, along with lifting patients, which causes stress on a nurse's back, legs and feet.