Hospice Palliative Care NurseHospice and palliative care nurses are nurse specialists. Their primary objective is to ease the suffering of the terminally ill. Hospice care nurses are specially trained and qualified to address the physical and emotional needs of their patients. They used advanced technology and patient care procedures to ease the suffering of the dying rather than prolong their life through invasive medical procedures. Since many of the terminally ill choose to remain in their homes to die, hospice nurses frequently work outside the hospital. Hospice and palliative care nurses follow guidelines and procedures that are governed by the Medicare Benefit Act of 1983, which among other things, permits patients to pass away at their own home with their families present.
Roles and Functions
It is quite common to find hospice and palliative care nurses working with other healthcare specialists, including physicians, other nurses, mental health professionals, CNAs, social workers, and chaplains. Together, these healthcare and medical professionals work toward a common goal of providing for the needs of patients struggling with chronic illness or pain. These professionals also work to assist family members who are frequently involved in the patient care process.
Hospice and palliative care nurses frequently work around the clock, including weekends and holidays, to provide their patients with the 24/7 medical care and assistance they so desperately require. To ease pain and suffering, hospice and palliative nurses listen to and address the complaints of their patients and their patients' families, offer counseling services, and utilize advanced medical technology and procedures.
Irregardless of the setting, hospice and palliative nurses are required to provided individualized medical, healthcare and mental health plans tailored to meet the specific needs of patients and their families. Hospice nurses not only provide patient care but they also counsel with family members to learn more about the patients’ belief, values, and preferences.
In addition to direct patient care, hospice and palliative care nurses often particpate with non-profit groups, teach healthcare classes, conduct research and develop grant proposals for research about chronic pain management and terminal illness. Many also work with state and federally elected representatives to develop and promote legislation aimed at assisting the terminally ill.
The majority of palliative care and hospice nurses are generalists, buy many specialize in pediatrics, geriatics, oncology, diabetes or other healthcare fields. To become a specialist, palliative care nurses must recieve specialized training and pass a state certification exam. Once you've completed your training and successfully passed the exam you'll receive the Palliative Nurse (CHPN) designation.
The majority of hospice nurses assist their patients in the patient's own home so that the patient can spend the remaining months or weeks of their life with family members and friends. Additionally, hospice nurses assist patients at nursing homes, assisted living centers and at hospitals. Most hospice patients pass away after receiving hospice care for less than a month. Palliative care nurses, like hospice nurses, work at hospitals, patients' homes and hospitals. However, they also work in other facilities where patients are receiving pain management treatment.
Hospice and palliative care nurses must have a unique set of skills and knowledge about pain management, symptom management, psychology, counseling, bereavement care, coping with intense grief and stress, and end of life medical care. In addition, they must be excellent listeners, demonstrate empathy and compassion, and be able to deal with stressful situations and patients who are struggling with chronic pain and dying.
Education and Training
Hospice and palliative care nurses are typically registered nurses (RNs) that have an associate's (ASN), bachelor's (BSN) or master's of science (MSN) degree in nursing. While a few hospice and palliative care nurses possess doctorate degrees, most do not. For nurses who wish to specialize, earning a master's of science (MSN) degree is recommended. The MSN degree offers students the opportunity to develop an advanced speciality in a specific area of nursing.
Hospice and palliative care nurses earn salaries at the same level as registered nurses working in all other nursing fields. Hospice and palliative care nurses who earn a graduate degree in nursing typically earn salaries comparable to nurse practitioners.
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