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Hospice Nursing Program Information

Hospice Nursing is a very special and demanding field, given that hospice nurses provide in-home care to patients in the last six months of their life due to terminal illness.  A hospice nurse administers medication, provides information, helps their patients with daily functions and activities, much like any other nurse would do.  However, a Hospice Nursing also has the ultimate goal of providing the greatest quality of life possible for your patient in their last days.  Hospice nurses may work a lot with pain management, and also with providing information and emotional support for their patient and the patient's loved ones.  Hospice nurses always provide care in patients' homes, whether that be a family residence, a nursing or retirement home, a mental health facility, etc.  Most often you will be working with a team, including a consulting physician, and perhaps mental health professionals, pain management specialists, clergy or other religious figures, and possibly volunteers as well.  Pay, hours, and the type of work setting can very widely and my involve extensive travel.

Hospice Nursing Qualifications, Training, & Education

Hospice nurses need to have a special capacity for compassion, empathy, and real mental fortitude.  Providing care at the end of someone's life is extremely stressful, both in that you are face to face with death and dying as a regular part of your career and that patients in this stage of life can require a great deal of medical care and attention.  Your patient and their loved ones may be completely dependent on you to make it through each day, both medically and emotionally, even if it's just your reassuring smile and how much of each medication to take that day that they need from you.

Hospice nursing requires that you first become a registered nurse (RN), and most organizations and companies providing hospice care will also want you to have a year or more of experience providing acute care nursing before working as a hospice nurse.  There are several paths to becoming an RN.  Some nurses will get a bachelor of science in Nursing (BSN) degree at an accredited four-year college or university.  Others will pursue an associates degree in nursing at a junior or community college.  Still others will get a registered nursing diploma through a vocational or technical school, but diploma programs are less common.  After completing the level of education you choose at an approved nursing program, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed.  

Hospice Nursing Job Outlook

As America's baby boomers creep into their golden years, hospice care can only be on the rise and in increasing demand.  The service is becoming more widely known and available, too.  According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a registered nurse was $62,450*.  Those with more education or certification will stand to make more.  The top 10% were making over $92,000* annually. *(according to BLS.gov)

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