How to Become a Hospice Nurse

How to Become a Hospice Nurse

Hospice is a type of medical care and philosophy that focuses on providing treatment to patients that are terminally ill. Hospice nurses are registered nurses that focus on maintaining the quality of life by providing comfortable care to patients with terminal conditions.

What does a hospice nurse do?

Hospice nurses provide care to terminally ill patients and focus on maintaining comfort and the best possible quality of life. They typically provide care in hospice settings, residential care facilities, or home settings. They administer medications, assess the needs of the patient, chart the vital signs and progress of the patient, and help the patient maintain activities of daily living. Hospice nurses explain the plans of care to patients and family members. They also provide emotional support to the patient and family and serve as liaisons between families and physicians. The main goal of hospice nurses is to minimize the patient’s pain as much as possible.

What kind of training does a hospice nurse need?

Hospice nurses usually need at least a bachelor degree and registered nurse certification. Many hospice nurses have a master degree in hospice and palliative nursing. Aspiring hospice nurses complete classroom instruction and hands-on training in biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, geriatrics, acute patient care, end of life care, terminal illnesses, psychology, and medical ethics. Many prospective hospice nurses complete internships in hospice settings to gain practical experience. All registered nurses are required to be licensed by passing a licensing examination. Many states also require hospice nurses to be a certified hospice nurse by passing the National Board for the Certification of Hospice Nurses examination. Hospice nurses must complete continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep their skills up to date.

What are the prospects for a career as a hospice nurse?

Employment of hospice nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The aging population and increased need for care for patients that are terminally ill will drive job growth.

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

How much do hospice nurses make?

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

A career as a hospice nurse is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care for patients with terminal conditions. Hospice nurses must be compassionate, caring, patient, and detail oriented. They must be emotionally stable, be comfortable dealing with illness and death, and be able to make quick decisions in emergency situations. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be able to make patients feel as comfortable as possible.

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