Whether on their own or with a care team, Home Health Nurses are responsible for providing care to various patients with distinct medical needs. These nurses are trained to be broadly knowledgeable and adaptable to any scenario. These nurses tend to operate on more flexible schedules, and have a unique opportunity to connect with their patients. This article will go over everything you need to know about home health nursing and why it is well worth considering.
As their title implies, home health nurses provide quality care services to patients in their own homes. These patients can range from infants, all the way to the elderly. Their services are primarily useful for the chronically ill, patients who have already been hospitalized but require further care, those recovering from surgery or patients who need close care but cannot (or will not) be admitted to a medical institution.
While emotional care is central to all forms of nursing, the home setting provides a unique opportunity. Nurses have the opportunity to build connections with their patients in the most casual and intimate way possible. Additionally, they work under flexible schedules and can operate independently (even within a care team).
Tasks and Responsibilities
Because home health nurses care for a diverse range of patients, their responsibilities can vary on a case-by-case basis. In most situations however, they can expect the following responsibilities:
Monitoring and recording patient condition, vital signs and recovery progress
Evaluating home safety and pointing out potential concerns
Adapting to any sudden changes or serious situations
Working together with physicians and other healthcare professionals in a care team
Administering pain medications, IV infusions and other medicines
Creating a care plan alone or in collaboration with a care team
Changing your care plan when necessary, in response to condition changes and observations
Collaborating with a care team to determine the need for further treatment or medication
Administering wound care and pain management
Periodically replacing wound/surgical dressing
Educating patient and patients on their condition and healthy lifestyle choices
Assisting patients with daily activities like feeding, bathing and dressing.
Complying with physician orders
Working closely with patient families or caregivers to meet a patient’s miscellaneous needs and ensure comfort.
Home health care nurses can work in the following companies:
Community or Government organizations
No matter who you work for, you will always be providing for your patients in their houses.
Currently, Glassdoor places the base annual salary at $92,501 while Payscale estimates a more conservative $65,437. Like with most healthcare professions, pay can be highly variable. Geographical location, additional education and especially years of experience play an important part in determining your actual income.
Listed below are the hourly wages based on experience, according to Payscale.
Less than one year: $27.15
1-4 years: $28.13
5-9 years: $28.81
10-19 years: $30.08
20+ years: $28
Compensation also encompasses benefits. Luckily, most healthcare companies offer a host of generous bonuses and incentives:
Onsite childcare and tuition reimbursement
Paid vacation and sick leave
Insurance (Health, Dental and Vision)
How to Become a Home Health Nurse
To become a Home Health Nurse, you need to go through the following steps:
Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse
Some organizations will hire LPNs, but for the most part they are looking for Registered Nurses with BSNs and ADNs. To do this, you first need to complete an accredited BSN or ADN nursing program. Then, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN.
Optional: Pursue Your Masters
If you want to take up more administrative or leadership positions in home health nursing, you can pursue a Master’s degree to become a Home Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Relevant work experience will make you a far more appealing candidate for Home Health Nursing positions. For example, employers will usually send their nurses to check on patients after major operations. Having patient care experience makes this task far easier to carry out.
You want at least two years of med/surg experience. This will expose you to clinical bedside care and provide practical experience to supplement your university lessons.
RN job openings are currently projected to grow 9% annually from 2020 to 2030. This roughly translates to 194,500 annual job openings within this time. Home Health Nursing in particular is currently among the fastest-growing specializations in all of healthcare. With the US population rapidly aging, home care will be essential for hospitals in the future. It is more convenient and affordable for older individuals, and it will reduce the on-site patient load for these healthcare facilities. The outlook for Health Nurses is incredibly bright.
At the time of writing, there are no special certifications or CEU units specific to Home Health. As a result, nurses only need to worry about their RN CEUs.
It is important to note that the requirements vary from state-to-state. Some states will require you to take 24 contact hours every 2 years, while other states have no CEU requirement at all. You want to find your area’s specific requirements before you send your application. For more information, refer to your area’s State Board of Nursing.