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Leading in Care Blog

The AAPACN Leading in Care Blog is a monthly blog for long-term and post-acute care nursing professionals looking for advice, tips, stories, inspiration, and highlights from their profession. This blog features AAPACN staff, as well as RN, DON, and MDS experts from the field, sharing timely insights that can be put into practice today. Topics range from mental health and overcoming burnout, nursing certification survival tips, collaboration between staff roles, how to overcome staff vaccine hesitancy, to the joys and benefits of working in long-term care, and more. Learn more about AAPACN and AAPACN membership.


  • Burnout: How Can Nurse Leadership Help?
    By Melanie Tribe-Scott, BSN, RN, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA, QCP                        The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory highlighting the urgent need to address the health worker burnout crisis across the country (Office of the U.S. Surgeon …
  • Am I Ready to Take the Resident Assessment Coordinator – Certified (RAC-CT™) Certification?
    If you’ve been a nurse assessment coordinator for some time now, you may be asking yourself, “Am I ready to take the RAC-CT certification?” To help answer that question, the experts at the American Association …
  • How Do I Know If I’m Ready for the Director of Nursing Services – Certified (DNS-CT) Certification?
    Nursing certification is a valuable asset to improve your career and your facility’s performance. Are you a director of nursing services (DNS) ready to take your skills and knowledge to the next level with the …
  • Nurse Leaders, You Make a Noticeable Difference
    Nurse leaders are essential to any long-term and post-acute care facility. These nurses fearlessly take responsibility for the success of their team and for quality resident care delivery. They spearhead the nursing department, overcoming obstacles …
  • NACs, We Celebrate YOU! Happy NAC Day!
    Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) have a vital role in any long-term and post-acute care facility. These nurses are the backbone of reimbursement, and they take charge of resident assessment and ensuring quality of care for …
  • Celebrating Nursing and Healthcare Excellence
    National Nurses Week begins next Friday, May 6. Throughout the week, the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN) will celebrate nurses and other healthcare professionals working in long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC). In today’s …
  • Advancing the Nursing Profession Through Scholarship
    Thousands of dedicated women and men working in post-acute and long-term care dream of the chance to learn more, do more, be more. By funding nursing scholarships, the AAPACN Education Foundation helps to make those …
  • How Comfort Theory Can Help Ease Burnout and Improve Well-Being in Nursing Home Staff
    By Faith Carini-Graves, Director of Skill Development, MDS Consultants The problem: What does an MDS coordinator, DON, CNA, therapist, nursing home administrator, RN, LPN, activities professional, social worker, and dietitian all have in common? They …
  • 5 Things You Can Expect at the AAPACN 2022 Conference
    AAPACN’s in-person conference is back and is just around the corner! The AAPACN 2022 Conference will be held this year in Las Vegas, NV on April 12 – 14, and will be a chance for …
  • Two Books to Consider Reading for Any Healthcare Professional in Long-Term Care
    The holiday season is here, and the cooler weather makes it a great time to curl up with a good book. If you are a director of nursing services (DNS), nurse assessment coordinator (NAC), or …
  • Involve the Therapy Team to Address Changes in Condition and Improve Resident Outcomes in Nursing Homes
    By Liz Barlow, RN, CRRN, RAC-CT, DNS-CT, AVP Clinical Innovation, Synchrony Rehab At the end of August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) held a National Provider Stakeholder call to review some of …
  • How the NAC and DNS Can Work Together to Ease the Strain of the Staffing Shortage in Long-Term Care
    The widespread staffing crisis in nursing homes across long-term care has put a strain on everyone, from leadership positions to the floor nurse. Staff are working overtime, covering extra shifts, and are often being called …
  • Why Should I Join a Professional Nursing Association?
    Joining a professional nursing association empowers you with the resources, education, and tools you need to be an educated leader in your profession. You’ll also be able to interact with a strong community of professionals …
  • The Qualities and Skills of a Successful Director of Nursing Services
    To be a successful director of nursing services (DNS) in a nursing home today and to lead staff in the very important mission to provide the best care possible for our nation’s elderly, there are …
  • 5 Things NACs Can Practice Every Day to Improve Their Role
    Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs), or MDS coordinators, have an important and challenging role in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). From managing the MDS/RAI process, creating individualized care plans for residents, identifying significant changes, ensuring accurate reimbursement …
  • AAPACN Education Foundation 2021 Scholarship Recipients
    Meet four rising stars in long-term and post-acute care – the AAPACN Education Foundation 2021 Scholarship recipients. The AAPACN Education Foundation positively impacts the lives of 1.4 million people living in nursing homes by providing …
  • AAPACN 2021 Integrity Award Winner – Angela Edge
    In celebration of Nurses Week 2021, the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN) Leading In Care Blog will recognize an AAPACN 2021 Award winner each week in May. Winners were honored at the AAPACN …
  • AAPACN 2021 Innovation Award Winner – Mohammed Jalloh
    In celebration of Nurses Week 2021, the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN) Leading In Care Blog will recognize an AAPACN 2021 Award winner each week in May. Winners were honored at the AAPACN …
  • AAPACN 2021 Influence Award Winner – Emily Burnham
    In celebration of Nurses Week 2021, the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing (AAPACN) Leading In Care Blog will recognize an AAPACN 2021 Award winner each week in May. Winners were honored at the AAPACN …
  • Reset Your Nurse Leadership Skills and Abilities
    By Amy Stewart, MSN, RN, DNS-MT, QCP-MT, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA Have you ever stopped to ask, “How did life amidst a pandemic affect my ability to be a good nurse leader in post-acute care or any …
  • Five Ways to Be a DNS Who SNF Staff Want to Follow
    by Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer As the nursing department leader in long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC), the director of nursing services (DNS) needs a hefty toolbox of clinical skills. However, leadership skills are also critical …
  • The Road to Recovery
    by Amy Stewart, MSN, RN, DNS-MT, QCP-MT, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA We are finally nearing the end of 2020. For most, the end offers up hope for a new year and new beginnings. When I reflect on …
  • Some Well-Deserved Appreciation for Certified Nurse Aides
    By Julie Helling, BSN, RN, RAC-CT Last May, I received a text message on my phone from a number I didn’t recognize. The message which appeared, however, was so unexpected and brought me such joy …
  • What Can The Great Depression Teach Us About Resiliency?
    By Julie Helling, BSN, RN, RAC-CT Everyone has been adversely affected by the events of this year, but none more so than the long-term care residents. We have seen a dramatic decline in resident cognition, …
  • 4 Reasons Men Should Consider a Career in Nursing (And Where to Start)
    by Julia Merrill Historically, the majority of the nursing workforce has always been female. However, the number of male nurses is steadily increasing. Today, 11.4 percent of students in BSN programs identify as male – …
  • A Renewal of Faith and Moment of Calm
    By Julie Helling, BSN, RN I have struggled with my faith on so many occasions. There have been more times than I can count when my beliefs have gone to war with my surroundings. As …
  • The Joy and Privilege of Working with Long-Term Care Residents
    By Julie Helling, BSN, RN My life changed at age 14. I had no plans on becoming a nurse. In fact, I was entertaining the idea of becoming a music teacher. Then, my grandfather came …
  • Spotlight on You – Podcast Series Episode 1
    For the last several years, the AAPACN conference has started with a special session planned by the AAPACN Board of Directors and intended to celebrate the members and to give them an opportunity to provide …
  • Mental Health Tips for Long-Term Care Professionals
    May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and AAPACN recognizes the struggles long-term care professionals are facing right now to keep their mental health balanced during to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses may be feeling stressed, tired, …
  • LTC Facility COVID-19 Data Reporting and Nursing Home Compare Updates
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) continue to provide guidance to SNFs regarding the NHSN Long-Term Care Facility (LTCF) COVID-19 Module. All SNF facilities are currently …
  • AAPACN Education Foundation 2020 Scholarship Recipients
    This Nurse’s Week, we honor four rising stars in long-term and post-acute care. The AAPACN Education Foundation positively impacts the lives of 1.4 million people living in nursing homes by providing scholarships for nurses seeking …
  • AAPACN 2020 Innovation Award – Tammy Kelly and Carrie Tidd, Commonwealth Care of Roanoke
    The blog post is the last in our series honoring the AAPACN 2020 Award Winners. We look forward to celebrating with these winners and the 2021 winners next year at the AAPACN 2021 Conference in …
  • AAPACN 2020 Inspiration Award – Jacqueline Jenkins, RN, Good Samaritan Society
    One of the highlights of the AAPACN annual conference each year is the recognition of the year’s award winners. With the 2020 conference now planned as a virtual conference in June, AAPACN will feature the …
  • AAPACN 2020 Integrity Award Winner – Braylee Wynn, Presbyterian Manor
    One of the highlights of the AAPACN annual conference each year is the recognition of the year’s award winners. With the 2020 conference now planned as a virtual conference in June, AAPACN will feature the …
  • AAPACN 2020 Influential Award Winner – Tracey Robinson, Sholom
    One of the highlights of the AAPACN annual conference each year is the recognition of the year’s award winners. With the 2020 conference now planned as a virtual conference in June, AAPACN will feature the …
  • 3 Tools for the New Director of Nursing’s Toolbox – Part 1
    Being the director of nursing (DON) is challenging, and anyone in the role will surely agree. Having a DON title comes with great rewards and requires lots of skills. I tell new DONs it’s all …
  • 3 Tools for the New Director of Nursing’s Toolbox – Part 2
    In Part 1 of this blog series, I talked about how your team communicates with you and how you can set expectations for that communication. In this post, I am going to touch on how you …
  • 3 Tools for the New Director of Nursing’s Toolbox – Part 3
    In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, I covered how setting expectations regarding communication and behavior can save you some big headaches over time. Now, let’s discuss the final tool you’ll need to have as a …
  • 6 Things DONs Can Do to Help Their Nurse Assessment Coordinator Thrive
    1.       Evaluate if the nurse assessment coordinator has enough hours The nurse assessment coordinator’s (NAC’s) job is a lot to handle, and it’s getting even bigger with more and more regulations coming their way. Sometimes there’s …
  • 5 Qualities of a Successful Nurse Assessment Coordinator
    A nurse assessment coordinator (NAC) has many important qualities; however, there are a few that you should really keep in mind if you want to be successful in your job. 1.       Learner/adaptable – The long-term care nursing …
  • Why Should I Earn a Nursing Certification?
    Certification programs elevate the standard of knowledge and skills required for a profession. In nursing, certifications are offered by specialty, and there are many paths to choose from. If you are considering a career in …
  • Why Should I Become a Certified Nurse Assessment Coordinator (NAC)?
    Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) are required to understand the extensive and complex regulatory body surrounding the RAI/MDS process and regulations are always changing. Coding correctly and having keen assessment skills are also very important parts of …
  • 5 Tips for Surviving Your RAC-CT Certification
    Achieving your Resident Assessment Coordinator—Certified (RAC-CT®) certification is a tremendous accomplishment for a nurse assessment coordinator in long-term care; however, the road isn’t easy. It takes hours of studying, in-depth learning and critical thinking, and focus to …
  • 5 Ways to Celebrate Your RAC-CT Certification
    You just passed your final exam and you’re ready to tell the whole world that you are finally RAC-CT certified! This is your moment of achievement. It’s something you’ve been working very hard toward for months, putting …
  • What Is the Correct Order for My LTC Nursing Credentials?
    LTC nursing credentials are a badge of pride and hard work. You just received your RAC-CT certification or DNS-CT certification, and you’re ready to add those five letters to your name! But first, where should you put …
  • 5 Best Nurse Leader Blogs of 2019
    In 2019, the Nurse Leader Blog brought you the excitement of the year’s events, inspiring stories, leadership advice, tips for culture change, and much more. Revisit the most popular posts on the Nurse Leader Blog …
  • Overcoming Burnout and Compassion Fatigue with Self-Care
    As a nurse in long-term care, sometimes you can get so caught up in caring for others that you forget to care for yourself. This often leads to burnout, which can lead to compassion fatigue …
  • How to Help LTC Residents Overcome Loneliness During the Holiday Season
    For staff, the holidays can be a busy time full of family gatherings and holiday celebrations, but for our residents, the holidays can be an especially lonely time. Our residents must adjust to so many …
  • Workplace Culture – Speak it, Breathe it, Live it
    It would be easy to think writing about workplace culture as a simple task. If that’s you, let me stop you right there; I assure you it isn’t! Not because it is a difficult topic …
  • Do You Embody Inspirational Leadership?
    As the Director of Operations for my company, I have had the opportunity to encounter many different leadership styles among the various departments within the skilled nursing world. I’ve worked with those who have an …
  • The Long-Term Care Moment That Changed My Life
    Being the DNS isn’t for the faint of heart. You navigate the survey process, solve staffing crises, advocate for residents, and so much more. The nurse leader in the nursing home often gives far more …
  • Skilled Nursing News Hosts First Annual Summit
    AAPACN President and CEO, Tracey Moorhead, attended Skilled Nursing News’ (SNN’s) inaugural, half-day Summit in Chicago on June 6. The event attracted more than 250 skilled nursing leaders representing providers, investors, technology innovators, and business …
  • Top 5 Nurse Leader Blogs of 2018
    In 2018, the Nurse Leader Blog provided you with tips for career success, advice for preparing for new processes, inspiring member stories, and much more. As we move into 2019, let’s take a look at …
  • Top 10 Care Connection Blogs of 2018
    The Care Connection Blog is written for long-term care nurses who work hard, lead by example, and inspire the kind of care that we all want for ourselves one day. Below are the top 10 …
  • Guest Blog: The Value of Mentoring in Nursing
    Mentoring is an opportunity to impart experiences, skills, perspectives, and ideas to accelerate the success of another person. Historically, nurses have been bred from the “nurses eat their young” mentality where experienced nurses pride themselves …
  • 2018 AADNS Annual Conference Takeaways from a DON in Rural Michigan
    Attending the annual conference for the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services in National Harbor, MD was nothing but a dream. As a director of nursing in a small rural town like Menominee, MI …
  • Why Should I Become a Certified NAC?
    Nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) are required to understand the extensive and complex regulatory body surrounding the RAI/MDS process and regulations are always changing. Coding correctly and having keen assessment skills are also very important parts …
  • 2018 AANAC Annual Conference Highlights Recap
    Last month, AANAC hosted its 2018 annual conference in Las Vegas. The AANAC Annual Conference is a two-and-a-half-day event full of learning, connecting with other MDS professionals, and tons of fun! If you were unable …
  • How I Came to Love Long-Term Care
    Career paths aren’t always straightforward, nor are they always what we initially wanted. However, we may find that an unexpected fork in our career path is exactly what we needed and where we need to …
  • Top 10 Nurse Leader Blogs of 2017
    In 2017, the Nurse Leader Blog provided you with tips for success, advice for preparing for new regulations, inspiring member-written stories, and much more. As we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the …
  • Want a Career that Provides Research Opportunities, Autonomy, and the Ability to Make a Difference? Try LTC!
    My first degree was in science education. While getting my education, I worked in the nursing home right across the street at night as an aid. I also worked there as an aid in high …
  • The Importance of Resident Interviews for Quality Care
    “The nurse’s part of the MDS is just invaluable. And you really feel like you can be a nurse, because you use every assessment skill you learned in nursing school.”—Jane Belt, MS, RN, RAC-MT, QCP …
  • Long-Term Care Provides Our Elders with a Purpose
    I’ve been in nursing since 1985. I started my career as an LPN. It was during my clinical practicum in a nursing home where I had a very rewarding experience which led to my decision …
  • The Value of the MDS
    “The MDS is an invaluable tool to us in long-term care. It involves so much of the nurse and her relationship with the resident and getting them to get to that highest level of function. …
  • Working in LTC was like Coming Home
    From about the age of three, when I first bandaged up my dog to be my patient, I wanted to be a nurse.  As the youngest of my extended family, I was exposed to hospitals …
  • Disrupting Inaccessibility with a Journey of 500 Miles
    As long-term care nurses, many of you spend your lives caring for those with disabilities and life-threatening diseases. You live each day knowing the people you care for may not wake up tomorrow; however, you …
  • Understanding MDS Item B0700 (Makes Self Understood)
    B0700 (Makes Self Understood) may seem like a small item on the MDS; however, it’s not insignificant, it’s mighty. B0700 is the ability of your resident to express or communicate needs, and yet there’s so …
  • 4 Good Reads to Reflect on the Lessons in LTC
    4 Good Reads to Reflect on the Lessons in LTC Assessing and caring for others can be a lot of work, but it also teaches us many important life lessons. Working in long-term care shows …
  • 9 Exceptional Nurses Leading the Way in Long-Term Care
    At the 2017 AANAC Annual Conference, we celebrated nine exceptional nurses who are leading the way in long-term care. The 2017 AANAC Awards and Scholarships winners are the following: 2017 Award Winners NAC of the …
  • Prepare Your Facility for the Antibiotic Stewardship Program – Part 2
    In Part 1 of this blog, you learned what the Antibiotic Stewardship program was and a few steps to get started on implementing a unique ASP in your facility. Once you have those prepared, you …
  • Long-Term Care Stole My Heart
    I want to tell you my story. It starts when I’m seven years old. My great grandparents were still living and I visited them often. Big Mom was my mother’s grandmother, very country–she wore the …
  • Prepare Your Facility for the Antibiotic Stewardship Program – Part 1
    The Antibiotic Stewardship Program (ASP) is a new regulation that comes with Phase 2 of the Mega Rule and goes into effect on November 28, 2017. This new regulation will involve major changes to your …
  • 4 Goals You Can Accomplish by Attending a Nurse Leadership Conference
    As a nurse leader, you are busy sorting out the latest regulation changes, keeping your staff engaged and updated with in-service trainings, making sure your own knowledge goals are on track, reviewing your systems and …
  • Celebrating a Nurse Who Leads the Way
    On NAC Day and during Nurses Week, we’d like to recognize a nurse who is leading the way in long-term care. Stacey Poldervaart from Friendship Haven in Fort Dodge, IA, was recently awarded the Cheryl …
  • Leading the Way to Reducing Medications Using Essential Oils
    Innovation occurs when an idea is transformed into a good or service that offers value. Essential oils may be the innovative idea you’ve been searching for to help reduce medication use. Essential oils have been …
  • Integrating Essential Oils to Reduce Antipsychotics and other Medications
    If you could reduce the use of prescription medications in your facility, or even offer a combination of healing practices to residents, would you give it a shot? No pun intended. Essential oils have been …
  • The Five Risk Factors of Resident Falls
    According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year one-in-four adults over the age of 65 falls. Ninety-five percent of hip fractures for that group result from falls, usually from falling sideways. In addition, …
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