Prospective nurses who are interested in becoming a home health nurse will find that this career path provides a great deal of variety and numerous options for nursing professionals.
Rather than working a hospital, pharmacy or other traditional healthcare setting, home health nurses visit, and sometimes reside, in patients’ homes, where they provide personalized nursing care. Home health nursing careers are often appealing for healthcare professionals who are looking for jobs that provide independence and variety.
Education Requirements for Home Health Nurses
Home health nurses are required to be registered nurses, which means they must go through certain steps to obtain the standard nursing education and certification requirements.
Discover Nursing notes that prospective nurses who want to go into the field of home health nursing must earn a nursing diploma, Associate of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While an associate degree or a nursing diploma typically requires two or three years to complete, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing usually takes four years to obtain. All of these paths of study will include courses in chemistry, biology, anatomy, nutrition, psychology and other relevant subject matter.
Each registered nurse must also hold a nursing license in order to practice. To become licensed, prospective nurses need to complete and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is administered by the National Council of State Board of Nursing. This exam consists of questions that cover safe and effective care environments, psychosocial integrity, health promotion and physiological integrity.
Several individual states have additional license requirements, so prospective nurses should become familiar with their states’ specific regulations. Many nurses who pursue home health nursing also decide to earn a specialty home health care nurse certification from the American Nursing Credentialing Center.
Career Options for Home Health Nurses
There are several reasons home health nurses might be called to a person’s home to provide nursing care. Quite a few home health nurses work in the homes of elderly patients who are sick and ailing, but who don’t need full hospitalization.
Whether a patient is elderly or has a terminal illness, home nurses can also offer palliative care or hospice care, which describes the care patients receive at the end of their lives. Terminally ill people often prefer to receive this type of care from the comfort of their homes instead of in hospitals, so home health nurses are often called to come in and assist in these situations.
In addition to treating elderly and providing palliative care, home health nurses may also work with children or adults who have mobility issues or developmental health problems. These patients may need help getting around or functioning on a day-to-day basis.
Whether a patient is elderly, terminally ill or developmentally delayed, home health nurses not only provide treatment and care for their patients, but they are sometimes called on to offer instruction or emotional support for any of the patients’ family members
What to Consider if You Pursue Home Health Nursing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that home health nurses nationwide earn a median salary of $60,690. The BLS also projects that employment for nurses is expected to increase by approximately 26% from 2010 to 2020. This rate of growth is faster than the projected average employment increase across all occupations.
According to the BLS, these positive employment figures may be due to the aging baby boomer population, which consists of individuals who are living longer than past generations and who need more healthcare services—which may include additional home healthcare.
Many hospitals are also trying to improve their efficiency by discharging patients after shorter stays. As this practice becomes more common, more people are turning to home nurses to help them make it through the stages of recovery after they leave the hospital.
The home health nurse description reveals a positive career outlook with strong pay and an opportunity to treat patients with a wide variety of health conditions and personal situations. This profession allows nurses to practice several types of home care over their careers, making it an exciting and multi-faceted job option for healthcare professionals.