April 19, 2023

What to Expect When Working in a Nursing Home

By B&SC Blog Team

What to Expect When Working in a Nursing Home

For aging populations, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities offer both a home and a place to receive care and assistance with daily tasks. With roughly 1.3 million nursing home residents in the U.S., there is a steady need for staff in these facilities. Working in an assisted-living facility or nursing home gives you a chance to spend your career helping the elderly. That might involve providing patient care or assisting with other tasks such as dressing, depending on your position.

If you’ve been thinking of pursuing a nursing home-related career, learning more about what it’s like to work in this type of facility can be helpful. The following information will give you a better idea of what to expect.

Pros and Cons of Working in a Nursing Home

Working in a nursing home has some notable advantages as well as a few potential disadvantages to be aware of. Taking the time to compare the pros and cons of a nursing home career is important to help you determine whether this is a good career path for you.

Benefits of Working in a Nursing Home

What are the advantages of working in a nursing home? Staff members in these facilities can expect the following benefits:

Build Relationships with Residents

Whether you work as a nurse, medical assistant, or other healthcare worker, you’ll have a chance to build a rapport with the nursing home residents. You’ll most likely provide care for the same residents on a long-term basis, which will give you the opportunity to get to know them and their family members who come to visit.

Be Part of a Team

Working in a nursing home often means being part of a resident’s care team. Depending on what each resident needs in terms of patient care, these teams can include nurses, other healthcare staff, social workers, and other care professionals. Being part of a team also gives you a chance to build relationships that can make a nursing home career even more rewarding.

Handle a Variety of Tasks

As a nursing home worker, you can expect to handle a variety of tasks each day. If you’re a nurse or another healthcare worker providing direct care, you might end up helping residents with a wide range of medical conditions and other health issues, such as by managing chronic conditions or treating acute illnesses. Other tasks you might handle include helping residents bathe, dress, and do other daily activities. This variety helps make each workday a different experience.

Improve Your Skills

Working in an assisted-living facility or nursing home can help you improve your skills. For example, you might be able to work on communication and teamwork skills, as well as healthcare-related skills such as administering medication.

Disadvantages of Working in a Nursing Home

While working in a nursing home has some definite advantages, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider. Keep in mind that although the following disadvantages are possible, most people agree that the advantages of the career outweigh them.

Having to deal with Misconceptions

Many people have misconceptions about nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. For example, some people might assume that residents in these facilities receive poor-quality care or end up being neglected. You may encounter individuals, such as a member of a resident’s family, who hold these misconceptions. However, this gives you a chance to correct this negative perception and reassure them their loved one is in good hands.

Feeling Attached to Residents

Although building relationships with residents as you see them day after day can be rewarding, there is a disadvantage to this: You can end up sad or upset if a resident’s health takes a turn for the worse or if a resident moves to a different facility. While this is a risk that comes with forming any attachments, letting down your guard is still worth it. You can take comfort in the fact that you were able to provide these residents with good care and companionship for the duration of your relationship.

Being limited in Your Medical Skills Practice Opportunities

Working in a nursing home gives you opportunities to improve some healthcare and other work-related skills, but it does limit the kinds of medical skills you get to practice. For example, you won’t be taking imaging tests and scans, doing blood tests, or setting up IVs, as you would if you worked in a hospital or doctor’s office. Whether this is a drawback for you depends on the kinds of medical skills you’re hoping to develop and improve.

Is Working in a Nursing Home Hard?

This depends on what you consider difficult. Are you good at working as part of a team? You might struggle if teamwork isn’t a strong skill, since work within a nursing home often involves collaborating with other professionals to provide residents with the care they need.

Are you able to handle a wide range of tasks on the job? Nursing home staff are often responsible for performing multiple tasks as part of their job. Being able to switch from task to task, whether you’re providing patient care or performing administrative tasks, is important. Working in a nursing home might be hard if you have a tough time juggling different tasks.

These are just a couple of examples to give you an idea of how working in a nursing home might be hard, depending on your skills. If you have a strong interest in providing care for the elderly and are dedicated to developing the right skills, a nursing home career might not be hard overall. Keep in mind that as with any job, you can expect to have some challenges at work from time to time.

Working in a nursing home might be hard for other reasons as well, including the medical conditions of different residents. Caring for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example, can be much more challenging than caring for residents with minor health issues. Work in a nursing home might be more emotionally difficult if you care for residents with terminal illnesses, such as those in hospice care.

What Do You Need to Work in a Nursing Home?

Knowing what it takes to work in a nursing home can help you determine whether you want to pursue this kind of career. The skills and requirements for working in a nursing home or assisted- living facility can vary, depending on the kind of position you’re interested in.


Nursing home workers should have skills in first aid and CPR so they can administer care to residents in these situations. Staff members who work in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities should also have strong communication, teamwork, decision-making, and time management skills.

For nurses in nursing homes, skills that are part of providing care to patients are also needed, such as patient care, treatment planning, case management, and patient evaluation skills. Other abilities nurses should cultivate when working in these facilities include patient and family education, hospice, home health, and acute care as well as advanced cardiac life support.

Other healthcare workers in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities should have the skills needed for their position. For example, medical assistants should have clinical skills, administrative skills, or both, depending on their focus.


The educational requirements for nursing home staff vary. Nurses who work in these facilities often need to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. For those who want a management position in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree in healthcare administration is usually needed. For support staff positions, you might need a diploma or a postsecondary certificate in medical assisting, depending on the exact position you want.

Certification and Licensing

Whether you need certification and licensing to work in a nursing home or assisted living facility depends on the kind of job you want. Nurses are licensed through their state but can also be certified through different organizations. This certification can offer certain benefits, such as greater recognition of their skills, knowledge, and expertise.

Medical assistants who plan to work in nursing homes have certification options to consider, such as becoming a certified medical assistant or a certified clinical medical assistant.

Since licensing and certification options and requirements can vary, you should check with your state to see what you’ll need to obtain to work as a nurse, medical assistant, or other healthcare worker in a nursing home.

Start Your Nursing Home Career Journey Today

If you’re ready to begin building a nursing home career, contact Bryant & Stratton College for more information on our healthcare degree programs.

Our school offers several programs, including bachelor’s degrees and associate degrees in nursing, medical assisting, and more. We can provide you with the education needed for a fulfilling career working in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Request more information to learn more about your degree options and our admissions process.

Related News