Career Profile: Hospice Nurse
A hospice nurse is one of the most important parts of palliative care. Hospice nurses are similar to other nurses in their duties, like the administration of medication, caring for patients and providing emotional support. They also observe patients and work with physicians in order to provide patients with the best care available.
Working as a hospice nurse is not easy. You know from the start that your patient will not survive, no matter what you do. Consequently, the object of the hospice nurse is to monitor conditions and administer medication to reduce pain, not to cure. This special nurse makes sure that the patient's final days of life are comfortable.
It takes a caring person to do this job. You need patience and resolve in order to treat patients you know you can't help. The majority of hospice patients have cancer, but AIDS, Lou Gehrig's disease and heart and lung disease also affect many. The primary job of the hospice nurse is to alleviate pain and prevent suffering, letting the patient live out their final days as comfortably as possible.
The hospice nurse is in charge of mediating between the patient's family and the physician. They are also charged with the coordination of patients and medication. A case manager will ensure that the nursing staff is equipped with all necessary supplies and medication, and is prepared to provide the necessary elements of patient care. Your nurse will design a plan of care, and is trained with a specialized nursing degree to perform skilled nursing procedures.
Hospices are required to provide services, both emotional and spiritual, that allow terminally ill patients to spend their last days at home with family. Many hospice nurses work at the patient's home, spending time with the patient for hours a day. In the event of a crisis, like respiratory failure or the active stage of death, a hospice nurse is required to stay until the event ends through medical care.
Hospices provide around the clock nursing care, supporting your loved ones twenty-four hours a day. As a result, many nurses have to work through the night in order to maintain quality care.
One of the most difficult parts of the role is explaining to the family what to expect. The nurse will walk the patient's family through the final stages of the illness, letting them know when and how to expect the active stage of dying. The nurse also provides emotional support for the family in this difficult time.
Hospice nurses provide care for the family after the death of the patient. Frequently, the nurse will visit in the weeks after the patient's passing to assist in the grieving process.
In order to become a hospice nurse, you'll need to be a registered nurse and have a Bachelor of Science degree is nursing. After two years of full-time work in a hospice nursing practice, you can take the National Board for the Certification of Hospice Nurses' exam. After passing the test, you will be a certified hospice nurse.
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