What is a Hospice Nurse?

Simply put, hospice nurses are nurses who care for folks in their final days on earth. By no means an easy position to take on, hospice nurses have to be caring and compassionate, while also making the best decisions for each patient, their families, and their circumstances. Nursing jobs in hospice are tough due to the nature of their prognoses, but it can also be quite rewarding in that those who work in this field are often afforded the ability to provide comfort to patients and their families during the time they need it most.

Hospice Nurse Responsibilities

If you are wondering what a hospice nurse job description entails, some of the most common duties are as follows:

  • Caring for the Terminally Ill: The top responsibility of a hospice nurse is taking care of the terminally ill in a way that is dignified and allows them to remain as comfortable as possible throughout the process. This includes things such as providing pain medications, emotional support and providing them with things that allow them to remain as independent as possible.
  • Communication: Given that these patients are nearing the end of their lives, hospice nurses play a major role in communication. Given that many patients may be non-verbal or may become non-verbal over time, the hospice nurse is often in charge of helping to communicate the patient’s desires to all partied involved. This can include speaking to family members, friends, preachers, other medical staff, and more.
  • Managing Crises: Additionally, given that the situation, as a whole, is typically a crisis, hospice nurses must also be comfortable managing a crisis. Depending on their level of certification, a hospice nurse may be expected to make tough decisions and deeds at a moment’s notice.
  • Around-the-Clock Care: While most types of nursing require nurses to be available around the clock, this need is elevated for those who work in hospice units. Hospice nurses are often needed to respond to calls throughout all hours of the day and night to respond to familial concerns and ensure the patient is as comfortable as possible at all times.
  • Maintaining Hygiene: Since many hospice patients have issues with mobility, among other things, hospice nurses are tasked with ensuring that the patient maintains good, proper hygiene.

How Much do Hospice Nurses Make?

If you are wondering about how much hospice nurses make, that depends on a variety of factors. For instance, hospice nurses who have a hospice nurse certification in Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistants (CHPNAs), make an average of $11.35 to $17.53 per hour, which is around $58,000 annually. On the other hand, those who possess a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (CHPNs), earn between $49,831 and $82,023 annually. Also, hospice nurses with an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (ACHPN), make around $96,126 per year.

How to Become a Certified Hospice Nurse

If you want to become a certified hospice nurse, you can take one of the following career paths:

  • One of the top things you need to become a hospice nurse is acquiring the proper education. For instance, those pursuing a CHPNAs, you must begin with a high school diploma or GED. From there, you must have a minimum of 500 hours of hospice and palliative nursing assistant experience over the past 12 months. Alternatively, you can have 1,000 hours over the last 2 years, all of which must be under the supervision of a registered nurse within the United States. This requires an HPCC CHPNA examination to obtain a certification.
  • If you are pursuing a Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurses, you will need to obtain an ADN or BSN or must graduate from a state-approved program in vocational nursing. You must also have at least 2 years of related experience and you must also be a licensed RN or LVN. You must pass an HPCC CHPLN Examination to obtain a certification.
  • If you are interested in a certification in hospice nursing in Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (CHPNs), you will need to earn an ADN or BSN, you must also be a licensed RN in the state of your residence, as well as 2 years of experience in related experience. You must pass an HPCC CHPN Examination in order to obtain a certification.
  • Lastly, if you are interested in an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurses (ACHPNs), you must possess a master’s or doctorate in an advanced practice nursing program. You must also have an unrestricted active registered nurse license in the US. Additionally, you will also need 500 hours of experience in hospice and palliative care over the last year, or 1000 hours in the last 2 years. You must pass an ACHPN Examination in order to obtain a certification.

Overall, if you are interested in becoming a hospice nurse, you have various options with regard to which career track you follow. Either way, be sure to choose the best career path that works for you and your nursing goals.

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