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Essential Qualifications to Work in a Nursing Home

It is a rare breed of person who is willing to devote a lifetime and a career to helping others, and for such individuals, working in a nursing home and providing care for elderly patients may offer just the challenges and rewards they seek. However, it's not like you can just walk in the door and ask for a job; there are certain qualifications that must be met if you want to realize your goals of helping to make a person's twilight years not only livable, but enjoyable. Here are just a few requirements you should be aware of.

  1. Compassion. Aside from proper training, caring about patients might be the most important qualification for those working in a nursing home. Elderly patients in such facilities are often dealing with serious physical, mental, and/or emotional issues, and you must be genuinely concerned about their plight if you want to succeed in such a job. The challenges can be overwhelming at times, but the rewards may be just as great provided you truly care about giving your patients the loving support they need.

  2. Communication skills. It is imperative for anyone working in a medical field to display not only excellent interpersonal skills, but also proficiency with communications that will help them to convey accurate information to colleagues, keep patients informed, and apprise family members of situations with their loved ones. The ability to deliver information in a concise yet professional manner is an essential part of working in a nursing home.

  3. Physical fitness. Caring for elderly or incapacitated patients could require you meet all kinds of physical demands such as lifting and perhaps even carrying residents at times. While most facilities require their staff to meet basic standards for health (physical and mental), it's probably in your best interest to stay in good shape, as well, so that you can perform your duties as needed and help in the event of an emergency situation. You will likely receive certain types of training to ensure the safety of patients (as well as your own, in some cases). But retaining the ability to follow procedures and properly care for your patients may necessitate an ongoing physical fitness routine.

  4. Experience. You may not necessarily need to have experience working with patients that have Alzheimer's or dementia in order to get hired at a nursing home. You might not even need a background working with elderly patients. But any nursing or medical experience you do have can only help you to land a position at such a facility.

  5. Schooling. Qualifications concerning certification and degrees may vary by both the state you live in and the facility you work at, but you can generally assume that the type of job you hope to hold will determine the level of schooling you'll need to get hired. Whereas a nurse's aide may need nothing more than a high school diploma and some targeted training to work in a nursing home, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and registered nurses (RNs) will have to complete at least some college, undergo clinical hours, and pass related exams in order to receive the certifications, licensures, and degrees relevant to their position. Staff doctors and administrators will no doubt need further degrees. You may have the option to start by studying online via programs offered through, for example, but at some point you'll have to go to a real-world institution if you plan to attain further degrees.

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