How to Become a Home Health Nurse

How to Become a Home Health Nurse

Home health care is an essential medical practice that involves providing a variety of medical and health services to patients in their homes. Home health nurses are registered nurses that provide care to patients and their families.

What does a home health nurse do?

Home health nurses work in patient homes providing the essential care. They evaluate the environment of the home and determine the patient’s needs. They work with a variety of patients with conditions such as cancer or terminal illness and those recovering from childbirth and accidents. They travel to a patient’s home and monitor patients, administer medication, and provide education to patients and their families on the appropriate care. Home health nurses often counsel, teach, and demonstrate tasks to patients and family members. They also maintain patients’ medical records and record observations to report to physicians and other health care professionals.

What kind of training does a home health nurse need?

Home health nurses must be registered nurses by obtaining a nursing license. Licensing requirements include graduation from an accredited nursing program and passing a national examination. There are three ways to become a registered nurse: a diploma program, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor degree in nursing. All nursing programs provide classroom instruction and supervised clinical experience in health care facilities. Home health nurses can also gain certification from the National Association for Home Care. Continuing education is required for home health nurses to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep up to date on their skills and advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a home health nurse?

Employment of home health nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 39% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and technological advances will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for home health nurses with advanced education and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need to replace home health nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the occupation for other reasons.

How much do home health nurses make?

As of November 2009, the average annual salary for home health nurses is $50,000; average annual home health nurse salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a home health nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong desire to provide care to patients in home settings. Home health nurses must be able to honor patient wishes in their homes and be able to make effective decisions and note observations accurately. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to make patients feel at ease. They should be sympathetic, caring, and detail oriented. Home health nurses must also be able to work as part of a team and be able to make quick decisions in emergency situations.

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