Medicare Glossary

Definitions for common Medicare terms

skilled nursing

DEFINITION: Skilled nursing care is care provided by a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse and which may be provided in a skilled nursing facility or in the patient’s home. Skilled nursing care is often necessary as a patient rehabilitates from an illness or injury, but the care provided is above and beyond that which can be provided by certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or home health aides.

Skilled nursing care can be covered by Medicare, Medicare, or other health plans. Original Medicare will only cover a stay in a skilled nursing facility (including the skilled nursing care that’s provided during the stay) if the patient has at least a three-night inpatient (not observation) stay in the hospital prior to the stay in the skilled nursing facility.

Learn more about skilled nursing care.