Preparing for a Career as a Hospice Nurse

July 26, 2022
July 26, 2022

Hospice nurses provide care for patients and their families at the end of their lives. If helping patients live their final days in comfort and with dignity sounds appealing, then hospice nursing may be a good fit for you. As the hospice patient population continues to swell, jobs in the field of hospice nursing will be plentiful even as the pandemic continues to put pressure on all aspects of healthcare as well as healthcare providers and healthcare leaders struggling to fill vacant positions.

Hospice Nursing – Requirements and Skills

Hospice nurses coordinate care for their patients, providing care and comfort for both the patient and their family members. The required skill set for a successful hospice nurse includes:

  • Formal training as a registered nurse (hospice nurse certification will likely be preferred)
  • Excellent communication skills, as hospice nurses will be communicating with patients and family members as well as healthcare providers from other disciplines
  • Sound clinical judgement and critical thinking skills
  • Compassion, patience and the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Adaptability, as their roles will require that they work in a variety of different settings – inpatient and home health
  • A comfort level with death and dying
  • Physical and emotional resilience to deal with physical demands of nursing and the emotional demands of dealing with patients at this stage of their lives as well as the emotional and educational needs of the patient’s families

Hospice Nursing – Duties and Responsibilities

The primary goal of hospice nursing is to provide care and comfort to patients at the end of their lives, but the actual duties of a hospice nurse are quite broad. Hospice nurses can expect to:

  • Work with physicians to develop a plan of care for their patients
  • Communicate that plan to the patient and family members and make adjustments when necessary
  • Make regular visits to the patient to evaluate their condition, physical comfort and provide information to the family
  • Provide comfort and support to the patient and their family members
  • Administer medication
  • Maintain accurate records and patient charting
  • Notify the physician when there are changes in the patients’ condition
  • Collaborate with other caregivers to deliver optimal end-of-life care
  • Help patients and their families with paperwork as necessary
  • Educate family members on how best to cope with grief and loss

Building a Strong Hospice Care Workforce

As the need for hospice care continues to grow so does the need for a competent and engaged workforce. Providing hospice care may be uniquely challenging; however, just like the rest of the continuum of care, providers need regular education to stay abreast of the best clinical practices as well as the regular and frequent changes in regulatory and reimbursement issues.

HealthStream has solutions that can help healthcare organizations be confident that they are supporting their staff with the very best in education while building a confident and competent hospice care nursing staff – the kind of solutions that can also help build retention and engagement.

HealthStream’s Home Health and Hospice Solution includes specialty-based content that addresses the issues unique to hospice and home healthcare. The solution helps reduce time to competence with an adaptive learning approach that will give credit for subjects that nurses have already mastered and build a curated learning program for each nurse that will help to address gaps in knowledge quickly and efficiently.

HealthStream offers a truly comprehensive solution that includes not just clinical development, but credentialing, resuscitation training, scheduling and capacity management, and tools to help ensure safe and compliant care for an increasingly complex patient population. In addition, these tools can help address burnout, an issue that may be somewhat more prevalent in this population of nurses and other hospice providers.

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