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3 Things Nurses Should Know About Home Health Nursing

Career News September 12, 2013

Of all the different areas to which a nurse could apply her education and experience, home health nursing is one of the fastest growing vacations in the nation. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that employment of licensed vocational and licensed practical nurses is projected to grow 22% by the year 2020, home health nursing is expanding quicker than average compared with other health care jobs in general.

In the past, hospital stays and long-term nursing care facilities were the only options for many people of any age that had serious medical needs. With advancement in technology, the ability to perform medical procedures and other health care processes has gone mobile, making it possible to treat and care for patients in their own homes.

By all accounts, the evolution of medical practice and mobilizing health care has come just in time: with the baby boom generation retiring, growing older and living longer than generations before them, many may find themselves in circumstances where their health requires long-term care, and when you’re convalescing, there’s no place like home.

Fast-Track to Employment

To acquire the credentials needed to make a career in home health nursing an approved educational program must be completed as well as obtaining a license to practice. Most colleges and technical schools provide accredited programs that only take one year to complete. Some of those schools also have a placement program that connects new graduates with home care services, in need of licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses for their clients.

Not only does that mean minimal time investment in education, but minimal down time between graduation and employment, too. It is a valuable stepping stone, too, a start to a career in healthcare that can open doors leading to continuing education, more advanced degrees, more options and that ever-important increased paycheck.

Varied Job Description

A home health nurse is placed, in a patient’s home, to provide nursing care, such as administering medications and observing and recording indications of the patient’s health. The duties of a home health nurse can vary widely, depending on the circumstances and the patients’ needs. Administering blood or dialysis might be necessary, as might catheterization and IV therapy. Since the nurse is helping the patient live as comfortable and normal life as possible, nonmedical tasks might be required like:

•Light housework
•Cooking
•Assistance with bathing and dressing

Although an LPN or a LVN is the minimal requirements for someone to become a home health nurse, this doesn’t mean that RN’s and those with advanced nursing degrees never work in a home care situation. Again, it can depend on the circumstances, which might call for the nurse placed, in the home, to have the experience, education and background to deal with the medical issue at hand.

Driving and Telecare

Home health nursing is not only more viable now, but it is more cost effective than the alternatives, especially if the patient lives in a rural setting that makes ongoing travel, to and from a health care facility, difficult. Anyone considering a career in home health nursing should be aware of the very real possibility that much time could be spent commuting.

The National Association for Homecare and Hospice published the results of a study that revealed that home healthcare workers drive nearly five billion miles each year, to provide medical care to clients.

Even so, the economy and the cost of fuel have made that aspect difficult without raising costs, and once again it is advanced technology that has come to the rescue. A number of home health nursing services and doctors are now relying on telehealth practices for those patients that don’t require a physical visit daily to administer medications or require on-site assistance with other tasks, but who might still need frequent face-to-face contact with their health care providers.

The Health Resources and Services Administration report that videoconferencing, streaming media and wireless communications, has been an immense help in meeting the needs of rural and homebound patients. These developments could spur an addition to the nursing programs that provide education in technologies that make home health nursing more feasible than ever.

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