Skilled nursing facilities employ a variety of medical and custodial personnel to provide 24/7 specialized care for residents. Skilled nursing staff needs to have various qualifications, licenses, and certifications. In this blog, we will review a list of the most common positions in a skilled nursing facility.

A nurse helping a patient in a skilled nursing facility


Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) in skilled nursing facilities have a vital role and many essential responsibilities. CNAs typically provide direct patient care, helping seniors with washing and dressing. They also check vital signs, take vital readings such as temperature or blood pressure, and ensure that seniors eat healthy meals that meet their nutritional requirements.

In addition to administering treatments, CNAs interact with patients socially by introducing the residents to activities like crafts, music, and physical exercise. The CNA must inform the nursing staff of any patient status changes, document them, and monitor them appropriately.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

Licensed Practical Nurses, commonly called LPNs, are uniquely positioned in the healthcare industry. They work in various care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities, and their primary responsibility is meeting resident needs.

In a skilled nursing facility, an LPN is typically responsible for monitoring vital signs such as temperature and pulse rate, administering medications prescribed by physicians, and conversing with patients to ensure they receive the best care.

Additionally, these healthcare professionals may educate patients on overall health maintenance, diet, or medication advice. It is important to note that all LPNs must have successfully obtained a license from their state’s Board of Nursing to practice professionally.

Registered Nurses (RNs)

Registered Nurses (RNs) in skilled nursing facilities play a significant role. They provide the care, support, and resources needed daily for their patients to lead healthy, meaningful lives. Beyond providing primary patient care, which may include administering medication, monitoring vitals, and managing treatments, RNs also work closely with physicians to plan and coordinate treatment plans.

Additionally, many RNs deeply understand senior health issues and act as trusted confidants and advocates for their elderly patients. With strong problem-solving skills, quick decision-making in emergencies, and outstanding communication abilities, RNs are integral members of any skilled nursing facility’s healthcare team.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are essential in skilled nursing facilities providing quality care while focusing on patient satisfaction. NPs’ primary responsibilities include the following: 

  • Performing comprehensive physical assessments to assess patients’ current conditions
  • Diagnosing and managing acute and chronic health issues
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests such as X-rays and laboratory results
  • Managing medications
  • Working with other interdisciplinary team members to develop care plans
  • Conferring with physicians when necessary.

Additionally, NPs educate patients about their diagnoses, treatments, and resources available for disease management. They also provide psychosocial support for patients and families struggling with enduring medical issues.

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists (OTs) play an essential role in skilled nursing facilities. They help ensure that people in long-term care settings can improve their ability to perform everyday activities and lead a higher quality of life.

OTs evaluate patients’ physical, cognitive, and mental abilities and develop individualized treatment plans with specific goals that promote independence. They provide hands-on guidance to help elders learn how to safely go about daily routines, like dressing, bathing, and eating.

OTs also work with the nursing staff and other healthcare professionals to create personalized environments where seniors feel safe, comfortable, and empowered — whether modifying space for more effortless mobility or providing adaptive equipment like wheelchair ramps or grab bars.

Finally, OTs serve an educational role, teaching essential safety awareness regarding fire prevention, falling hazards, nutrition information, problem-solving skills, and energy conservation techniques — all necessary for proper long-term care.

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists (PTs) in skilled nursing facilities provide a vital service for their residents. Their primary responsibility is to assess the physical capabilities of each individual and establish an individualized treatment plan that promotes restoring mobility, functional conditioning, strength training, and fall prevention. They also adjust the treatment plans as the individual’s condition changes or improves to keep their therapy successful.

PTs must also do the following:

  • Observe and evaluate patient responses to various treatments and medications
  • Record patients’ medical histories
  • Measure range-of-motion
  • Write detailed reports about enrollment/discharge meetings with patients and family members.
  • Teach independent living skills to patients
  • Conduct educational sessions with staff or families
  • Educate other medical practitioners on best practices for therapeutic care
  • Supervise fellow physical therapy assistants or aides on staff
  • Ensure all treatments are handled properly and safely 

Dietary Aides

Dietary aides in skilled nursing facilities are critical in promoting health and wellness amongst patients and residents. Aides are responsible for meal planning, food preparation and delivery, food distribution, stocking supplies, sanitation of kitchen equipment and areas, obeying safety protocols, and more. They provide excellent customer service by interacting courteously and respectfully with residents while eating.

Additionally, they may need to exhibit supervisory skills in overseeing the work performed by other dietary staff members. Duties are assigned depending on individual facility needs. Dietary aides must always adhere to federal and state guidelines for food handling practices, storage, temperature control, and general meal service operations.


Skilled nursing facilities are home to various healthcare professionals that all play a vital role in providing quality care and ensuring the safety and well-being of their residents. From nurses to occupational therapists, physical therapists, and even dietary staff — each professional works together to provide comprehensive medical services and support. With their help, individuals in long-term care facilities can live as independently and safely as possible.