As a nurse, you are taught to heal. It’s likely what inspired you to become a nurse in the first place. In the field of hospice, however, the objective is to comfort – not cure.
Many people view a career in hospice as difficult or even depressing, but those who have chosen this field will tell you how much they love what they do. Hospice nursing is an exceptionally fulfilling career choice. These nurses build deep relationships with patients and walk with their families through some of life’s hardest moments.
Supporting patients and their loved ones through the patient’s final journey can be challenging. Still, helping patients transition with dignity and on their own terms is very rewarding for hospice nurses.
What Does a Hospice Nurse Do?
Hospice nurses care for people of all ages who have a medical prognosis of six months or less to live due to a life-limiting illness or injury. The priority is the patient’s quality of life as opposed to curative treatment. Hospice care centers on the belief that every person has the right to die with dignity and without pain. In addition to providing hands-on medical treatment, the hospice team also offers emotional, spiritual, and psychosocial support to patients and their families.
Benefits of Hospice Registered Nurse Careers
There are many unique benefits of choosing to work in this field. Here are six benefits of a career as a hospice nurse.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity
Patients choose hospice care for different reasons, but they generally center around a common theme: quality of life. Most people with a life-limiting diagnosis do not want to spend their remaining days in a hospital undergoing intense curative treatments that can cause unnecessary pain and suffering. Patients who choose hospice have decided to maximize the quality of their remaining days. They want to spend that valuable time at home, with their family and friends, free of pain and other symptoms. Hospice provides the care and support necessary to make this possible.
Developing Strong Bonds with Patients & Families
Hospice nurses get to know their patients as people – not just a diagnosis. Few nursing jobs provide the opportunity to see the same patient regularly for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. One of the most rewarding aspects of the role is meeting various people and hearing their life stories. Learning about places people have been, the things they have done, their proudest memories, and even their fears are something nurses don’t always have the privilege of experiencing in other roles.
Being Part of an Interdisciplinary Team
Hospice nurses are part of an entire interdisciplinary care team that includes social workers, chaplains, hospice aides, volunteers, bereavement counselors, and more. Everyone on the team has a voice and plays an equal part in surrounding the patient and family with all aspects of care. Many hospice nurses enjoy the remarkable collaboration and support of working within the hospice care team.
Offering Education & Reassurance
In addition to supporting the patient’s family through this emotionally trying time, hospice nurses also empower them to take care of their loved ones at home. A relative who isn’t medically trained may be afraid to be left alone with their loved one, but hospice nurses help change that. They do this by providing education and other resources to prepare family members to help care for the patient. It can be gratifying to give instruction on end-of-life care and symptom management and witness the ‘lightbulb moment’ when it all clicks for the caregiver.
Becoming More Than a Nurse
In hospice nursing, sometimes discipline boundaries can be blurred. Hospice nurses may provide support or a listening ear when a patient has just received bad news. Occasionally, they might need to help a family navigate a conflict. Each day holds something new for hospice nurses, meaning they never stop learning and growing as a nursing professional.
Making a Lasting Impact
Working in hospice isn’t a job – it’s truly a calling. Hearing a family member say, “We couldn’t have done this without you,” makes all the hard work worth it. Hospice is not an ‘easy’ profession by any means, but guiding people through what is often the most challenging time of their life is incredibly fulfilling.
A hospice registered nurse career can be enormously rewarding, with new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of your patients and their families each day. Are you interested in learning more about how to become a hospice nurse? Visit our Careers page to join our Talent Network and search for available opportunities in your area.