What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility, and What Are the Opportunities for Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioners?

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Adult-geriatric nurse visits with patient at skilled nursing facility

Just as there are many different nursing specialties, there are also numerous health care settings in which nurses can work, including hospitals, urgent care clinics, addiction treatment facilities, and nursing homes.

A skilled nurse has graduated from an accredited nursing school and is licensed to perform higher-level nursing duties that unlicensed caregivers, such as health aides, cannot. As such, there is no single definition of a skilled nursing facility, because skilled nurses work in many different health centers.

A skilled nursing facility is what people commonly think of as an inpatient rehabilitation center or nursing home, but there are significant differences.

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Generally, the definition of a skilled nursing facility is a nonresidential care center. While care is available to patients 24 hours a day, patients are admitted with the intention of moving out after a short period. By contrast, both residential care and nursing home facilities house patients who require long-term care and observation.

Residential care facilities typically have staff on hand for medical emergencies and routine help but encourage and support the autonomy of residents, who may cook their own meals and take responsibility for their medications. Nursing homes house patients who require daily medical attention, along with custodial care, such as personal hygiene and medication administration. Patients housed in these facilities tend to be elderly or terminally ill with no set release date.

Skilled nursing facilities are similar to inpatient rehabilitation centers but differ in the types of care and staffing levels that are available. Both offer acute or sub-acute care to patients recovering from severe illness or physical injury. Patients in a skilled nursing facility may stay up to two weeks longer than in a rehabilitation center but typically with less intense treatments.

An Opportunity for Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioners

There are many career options for nurses seeking employment in a skilled nursing facility, with adult-geriatric nurse practitioner (AGNP) being one of the most relevant. Enrolling in a comprehensive degree program such as the online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at Regis College allows nurses of varying levels to work toward a fulfilling career in adult-gerontology.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

Adult-geriatric nurse practitioners concentrate their abilities on senior citizens, helping keep them at ease and in good health. AGNPs may care for aging adults with memory loss, perform routine examinations, administer medications, or conduct life-saving measures. Some AGNPs choose to assist with palliative or hospice care, which helps patients and their families navigate end-of-life decisions and comfort levels.

Educational and Certification Requirements

Nurse practitioners must earn a master’s degree with a specialization from an accredited higher education institution before sitting for a certification exam. Specializations aside from AGNP include Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Certification comes from various boards, depending on the area of specialization.

Key Skills

An MSN program can help teach AGNPs the skills necessary to care for aging patients beyond the basic nursing aptitude of measuring vital signs, dressing wounds, and administering medications.

Health management. Adult-geriatric nurse practitioners work closely with their patients to increase their quality of life at varying stages of maturity. Some of the people in their care may require ambulatory exercise, while others may need bed rest and pain medication. AGNPs manage the treatment plans by evaluating the health and outlook of each patient.

Education. AGNPs teach patients and their families about the possibilities available to them with regard to their health and ongoing care, whether their decisions pertain to moving into a nursing home, aging in place, or entering hospice care. MSN programs highlight the finer points of communicating these choices to the people who choose a skilled nursing facility.

Compassion. The ability to understand and empathize with people who are experiencing health issues related to aging is central to the role of AGNP. Patients and their families need attention to what may be terminal illnesses or injuries, and compassion is difficult to teach. AGNPs must be conscious of how their words and actions affect others.

The Benefits of an Advanced Nursing Degree

For nurses interested in becoming an adult-geriatric nursing practitioner, Regis College offers an online Master of Science in Nursing program with an AGNP specialization. Whether prospective students have an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, they can apply to the program without taking the GRE.

The MSN curriculum at Regis College is designed to give students the supporting courses they need to build on their education and certification. For example, Nursing Care of Aging Adults aims to teach the scope of elder care, while Clinical Mentorship in Gerontology assigns mentors to guide students nearing graduation as they apply their knowledge in clinical settings.

Skilled Nursing Facilities Need AGNPs

If becoming an adult-geriatric nurse practitioner is your next step toward a career at a skilled nursing facility, look into all the ways that the Regis College online Master of Science in Nursing program can support you on that path. From relevant degree specialties to actionable skills learned, the journey to AGNP certification starts with Regis College.

Recommended Readings
Degrees Defined: What Does MSN Mean?
The Importance of Teamwork and Collaboration in Nursing
What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

FamilyAssets, “The Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Nursing Home Care”
Mainline Health, “Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) vs. Acute Inpatient Rehab Hospital”
Regis College, Online Master of Science in Nursing Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
Senior Living, “Skilled Nursing Facility for Seniors”
Verywell Health, “The Role of Skilled Nurses and Skilled Nursing Facilities”