Hospice Nurse Career Facts

A hospice nurse is a certified healthcare provider who gives hospice care or palliative care to terminally ill patients. A hospice nurse is also responsible for giving psychological comfort to the patients to make them feel comfortable in their last moments. Hospice nurses generally work with patients who have no hope of recovery and administer medication only to reduce their pain and make their living a little more comfortable and peaceful.  

Daily Tasks

  • Monitor and assess the physical stability and symptoms of the patient.
  • Educate the family and the patient about the pain relieving and comforting methods.
  • Listen to the fearful thoughts and doubts of the patients and give them a moral and an emotional support.
  • Co-ordinate with the concerned physician(s) and plan patients medication as per their advice(s).
  • Administer routine home care to patients to keep the pain under control
  • Giving a full day's crisis care for medical or psychological emergencies at home or at a healthcare facility.
  • Attend terminally ill in-patients with uncontrollable symptoms.

Work Environment

The hospice nurse generally has to work at the residence of a terminally ill patient and has to be with a single patient for several hours a day. The work place can be home, school, community center and other healthcare facility. Working with terminally ill patients and facing their families is an emotionally demanding job. The hospice nurse should have exceptional level of love, care and patience to deal with the fears and angers of the dying patients. Often a hospice nurse has to face the eventual death of their patients, which can be slow, quick, sad or painful.  

Requirements to become a Hospice nurse

  • Bachelor of Science degree in nursing is the first and most basic requirement.
  • To become a hospice nurse one should be a Registered Nurse (RN).
  • Clear the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.
  • Two years of work experience in a hospice work place is essential to apply for the certification of hospice nurses.
  • Certification by the State Health Department to work as a Hospice worker after successfully clearing the exam conducted by the National Board for the Certification of Hospice Nurses.

Income

The average salary of the hospice nurse is $49,000, but like other jobs it can vary according to experience, location and demand. The median salary is somewhere in the range of $61,490.

Career Advancement

After a considerable experience as a hospice nurse, you can work as Occupational therapists, Paramedics, Physical Therapists, Physician's Assistants, depending on their area of interest. A hospice nurse can also manage ambulatory, acute or chronic health care businesses. Many hospice nurses work independently and are contracted through medical facilities. A nurse with a good reputation will be offered many jobs if they can get good references and recommendations so be sure to ask for letters from families that you work with.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that this job opportunity will grow much faster than the average of other professions in coming years. The healthcare industry as a whole is increasing and will need more workers because of our aging population.