Hospice nurses work with the chronically or terminally ill to improve the quality of life for them. They often help transition patients to home care or ease their symptoms at the end of their lives. Earning an online degree in health care can help you advance your career goals.
Hospice nurses are RNs who have turned to hospice care as their specialty. Most hospice nurses get several years of experience in another form of nursing before concentrating in this field. There are a few ways to tailor an education toward nursing, although those with a bachelor’s degree will find more employment opportunities. Although a nursing education is a combination of classroom and clinical experience, many of the required background courses can be found online.
Hospice nurses usually hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited school, although they can also earn a nursing certificate from a certified nursing program, usually in a participating hospital. They must also pass the necessary national examinations to gain a position in a hospital or doctor’s office.
Many schools offer accelerated bachelor’s in nursing degree programs that will allow candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field to earn a nursing degree in two years rather than the four years that is usually required. A bachelor’s of nursing candidate will take core courses in anatomy, chemistry, physiology and psychology. Those who choose to follow a degree course rather than obtaining a certificate will also get additional training in leadership, communication and critical thinking which can help in furthering their careers.
Hospice nurses focus on helping patients manage their pain, answer questions honestly, anticipate symptoms and offer comfort to patients and their families who are anxious or grieving. A hospice nurse must be physically fit in order to stand for long periods of time and assist patients in everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing and eating. They must also be psychologically strong in order to deal with the inevitable loss that comes with dealing with patients at the end of their lives.
A hospice nurse will often work as part of a team to provide a patient with well-rounded health care. They may visit patients at home or work in a traditional hospice setting. Because most patients need round-the-clock care, some shifts may be overnight and on weekends.
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a hospice nurse was between $52,490 and $54,190 per year as of May 2006. With the increase in older patients in the coming years, the growth in the industry is expected to be faster than normal, averaging at about 20% through 2016.