Hospice Nursing: An Overview of Hospice Nursing As a Career Choice

What Hospice Provides:

The concept of Hospice is to give care, comfort, support, and medical treatments to patients for their end of life care. Generally a Hospice patient stays in their own home or their caregivers place of residence. Sometimes treatment for the patient may need a move to a long-term care facility or hospital. The comfort and care given by the Hospice staff centers on quality treatments, pain management and dignity in the patient's last days. A variety of resources are also available for the family before, during, and after the passing of their loved one.

Education Required:

Prior to employment as a Hospice Nurse, completion of a Registered Nursing program is required, either an ASN (Associate Degree in Nursing) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). Individuals interested in Hospice must have a minimum two years as an RN in a Hospice based nursing environment, then a skill exam must be taken and passed. The proficiency exam is a competency certification test required by the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses. Finally, along with an ASN or BSN, National Certification exam, the nurse will receive specialized training specific to Hospice Care. The nurse will take courses in pain and symptom management; end-stage disease processes; psychological and spiritual care for the patient and family. Additional courses that are given are ethical and legal issues, and communication strategies dealing with patients, families, and other Hospice Team Members.

Job Description:

Hospice Nurses essentially do the same duties as other nurses. The exception to this type of nurse is traveling, this may include the hospital, long-term care facility, patients home, or caregivers home. Hospice Nurses are the eyes and ears for the interdisciplinary team they are part of. Physicians, Social Workers, Counselors, Pharmacists, Medical Equipment Suppliers, Spiritual Support, as well as the family create a group of team support for the patient and their treatment. A nurse must have a compassionate disposition, caring, and patience to make sure end of life care is as dignified and comfortable for the patient and family as possible. Choosing a career in Hospice Nursing takes a person who understands and accepts that their job is not to make a person better or rehabilitated, it is to give dignified end of life care. Visits with the patient consist of observing the patient's vital signs and pain level, recording and reporting any new issues, administering medicines if required, and providing overall emotional support to the patient and family. The Hospice Nurse also collaborates with the physician, social workers, nursing case managers, spiritual and psychological providers.

Employment Hospice Choices:

General Nurse : Typically this type of nurse visits the patient within their own home or caregivers place of residence. Some patients may have moved from their home and live in assisted living, long-term care, or a foster care facility.

Palliative Care Nurses : This type of Hospice nursing is typically seen in hospitals, long-term care facilities and rehabilitation centers where there is a longer life expectancy of the patient.

Patient Care Manager: This RN position is responsible for the overall direction of clinical services. The manager will hire, train, and orient new employees, as well as over see the scheduling, and care planning of other RN's. Along with these duties the Patient Care Manager oversees all patient care expenditures, assures compliance with all state, national, and company policies and rules.

Specialty Nurse : Some RN's choose to go for a specialized education in varying fields such as oncology, pediatrics, or geriatric care. The specialization in a can help both educationally and financially.

Going to become a Hospice Nurse will be a challenging and rewarding profession. Being a compassionate, patient, and caring nurse can make a huge difference for the patient and family members involved in end of life care.