Caring for the terminally ill is one of the most heartbreaking, yet rewarding careers in nursing. These medical professionals not only provide the care and assistance to a person facing mortality, but also provide support, comfort and information to family members and loved ones. The hospice nurse is an invaluable member of a medical team dedicated to the final stages of illness or injury that patients inevitably face.
Helping patients come to terms with terminal illness is only one of the functions of a hospice nurse. These palliative care nurses also help patients understand the process of death and dying, diagnose conditions related to medications or side effects of treatments, give insight to loved ones and relay information to physicians. Hospice nurses control pain and monitor a patient’s progression through the end of an illness, giving comfort and ultimately easing fears surrounding death.
A hospice nurse spends much of the day traveling between patients’ residences, allowing medical care to occur in the comfort of their own homes. Specializing in in-home care, a hospice nurse may provide treatment to patients of all ages, as well as those facing the end of a long battle with cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s or other terminal conditions. Giving patients the security and dignity of remaining in their own homes is a prized gift to both the patient, as well as to family and friends.
As part of a larger team that is focused on the social and emotional needs surrounding a patient’s terminal illness, hospice nurses may also consult with members of religious organizations and social service agencies. Medical care may encompass a large portion of the job of a hospice nurse, but the desired end is that of a holistic, mind-body experience and the best “quality of life” care for those closest to the patient, as well as the patient him or herself. Hospice nurses can even specialize in various home healthcare situations, such as geriatric care, palliative or pediatric care or many other programs that are available at local colleges, universities or online nursing schools.
While nursing may define moments in a person’s life where illness is conquered and injury healed, the reality of many illnesses calls for a different approach. Granting terminal patients the ability to live out their days in the comfort of their own home can be one of the more rewarding career choices of a nurse today.
Earn as much as $74/hour in the Geriatric Nursing field. Kaplan University offers a self-study online geriatric care certification that can be completed in just 12 months