Pros and Cons of Becoming an LTC Nurse After Graduation

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There are numerous reasons to become a nurse — like a variety of nursing jobs to consider after you graduate from nursing school. One place for new graduate nurses to begin their nursing careers is in a long-term care (LTC) facility. The need for long-term care is expected to continue its rapid growth as people live longer and their long-term care needs increase.1 Long-term care nursing is a great place to get on-the-job training and to practice the many skills you learned in nursing school.

In This Article: 

What Is Long-Term Care Nursing?

Nurses working in long-term care facilities provide care to patients with recovery needs that extend beyond the traditional hospital setting, such as patients with disabilities who are unable to care for themselves independently or those suffering from progressive or chronic illnesses.2 LTC facilities can include nursing homes, assisted living facilities and memory care facilities.

You don’t need a long-term care nursing certification to work in an LTC facility, but becoming a certified nurse after graduation can help you seek potential advancement opportunities for your career by demonstrating your skills and commitment to being an outstanding nurse.3 After you earn your accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree, you can choose to pursue a Gerontological Nursing Certification, or another related certificate, through additional education, clinical practice and by passing a standardized exam.4

Common reasons for a patient to need long-term care include:

  • Following a stroke or neurologic injury
  • Needing assistance with nutrition or eating
  • Following an extended illness or acute-care hospital stay, such as pneumonia that required intubation and many days or weeks of bed rest
  • Needing assistance with hygiene and mobility

What Do Long-Term Care Nurse Job Duties Entail?

The most common job duties of long-term care nurses are aimed at helping their patients recover faster from injury or illness or to provide the highest level of functioning possible with their diagnosis. Typically nurses in LTC facilities provide care for patients in between other types of therapy sessions. The types of therapy often seen in LTC include:

  • Physical therapy (building strength and balance to walk or use assistive devices)
  • Occupational therapy (learning and applying practical skills like brushing teeth, preparing meals or getting dressed)
  • Speech therapy (relearning to swallow after a stroke or relearning to talk after having a breathing tube)
  • Group therapy sessions (playing games or memory activities)

Long-term care nurses manage medications, check vital signs and document patients’ care plans and progress so the primary care team can stay up to date with the patient’s status. Those working in long-term care nursing also watch for signs of decline in their patients’ health, such as wounds that are not healing, patients who are losing weight and not getting enough nutrition, and those who may need more specialized nursing care. The LTC nurse alerts the care team to these changes, so the patient receives proper care.

Additional job duties of the LTC nurse include helping with:

  • Coordinating care with the team
  • Activities of daily living (ADLs): preparing meals, bathing, practicing light housework
  • Exercise and range of motion activities
  • Education for patients and family members

Pros and Cons of Being a Long-Term Care Nurse

Although long-term care nurses have many important duties when taking care of patients, there are pros and cons of being an LTC nurse:


Getting to know your patients well. Patients usually spend more time in LTC than in the hospital. Because of this, nurses in LTC get to know their patients and their families much better, forming a stronger nurse–patient bond.


Transitioning patients to a nursing home or hospice care. Unfortunately, some patients are not able to get strong enough to go home, especially older patients and those with chronic diseases. Sometimes the decision is made to transition to even longer-term nursing homes, or to palliative or hospice care. Some LTC facilities include this type of care, so the patient may not have to move to a different facility.

Increased compassion fatigue. Like family members, LTC nurses can also feel frustrated if their patients struggle with recovery.5 Patience goes a long way toward building a mutually respectful relationship with your patients and their loved ones. Remember that you are doing your best, and so is your patient.

Start Your Nursing Career as a Long-Term Care Nurse

You already know you have what it takes to be a great nurse, and you may be considering the benefits of becoming a long-term care nurse. Not only do LTC nurses provide invaluable care and support to patients who need it the most, but they also get to build strong bonds with their patients, and to see them recover and thrive after adversity.

With Grand Canyon University’s accelerated BSN program, you can be on your way to a career as a long-term care nurse in as few as 16 months.6 After graduating, you’ll have the foundational education to position yourself for a career in long-term care nursing settings. Fill out the form on this page to learn more and get started today. 

Martinez-Lacoba, R., Pardo-Garcia, I., & Escribano-Sotos, F. (2021, Dec. 16). Aging, Dependence, and Long-Term Care: A Systematic Review of Employment Creation. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 20, 2024.

National Institute on Aging. (2023, Oct. 12). What is Long-Term Care? Retrieved April 20, 2024. 

American Nurses Association. (2022, Nov. 16). Our Certifications. American Nurses Credentialing Center. Retrieved April 20, 2024.

 4 American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Gerontological Nursing Certification (Gero-BCTM). American Nurses Credentialing Center. Retrieved April 20, 2024.

Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Compassion Fatigue. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 21, 2024. 

6 Secondary applicants must transfer a minimum of 60 of the required 123 credits or have completed a baccalaureate degree which includes nine prerequisite courses/labs and 10 general education courses prior to starting the core nursing courses, which can be completed in as few as 16 months. Direct entry applicants that do not transfer 60 credits but meet the minimum requirements can complete these credits through GCU prior to starting the core nursing courses. Depending on the state where student has enrolled or intends to complete the program, student may require additional courses. This may include, but is not limited to, additional general education courses, courses in the major, clinical courses or a different course sequence. See University Policy Handbook.

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions on June 17, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.