CHPN certification

  1. I am an RN (20+ years) who has finally decided to take the plunge and pursue hospice nursing.

    I am currently doing private duty nursing, and I plan to stick with my little guy until he doesn't need me anymore (probably a matter of months).

    To prepare until that happens, I am planning on reading/ studying everything I can regarding hospice/ palliative nursing. I was also planning on obtaining the CHPN certification (if I pass the exam, of course).

    Is it weird to obtain the CHPN certification without ever having worked as a hospice nurse? (I have volunteered for hospice in the past so I do have an idea of what is involved).

    My desire is to know as much as I can going into this, and I believe being certified will help my chances of landing a job when the time comes.

    Thoughts?
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   QuiltDog
    I would not try to take the CHPN exam without at least a couple of years of hospice experience. Get into the field and take the time to learn all about it! It is a great specialty- good luck to you.
  4. by   westieluv
    The NBCHPN (National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nursing) recommends that an RN have at least two years of hospice experience before taking the exam, and I can definitely see why.

    http://nbchpn.org/DisplayPage.aspx?Title=RN%20Overview

    I took it with just two years of hospice nursing experience and it was very difficult. I studied hard for many, many hours over at least a couple of weeks and I wasn't even sure if I had passed it until I got my results back. I do remember thinking back over various experiences that I had had as a hospice nurse while taking the exam, and that helped me immeasurably. I think it would be exceptionally difficult to take this exam without having any experience to draw on.
  5. by   Elle23
    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it!
  6. by   westieluv
    I also want to add that the exam is quite expensive to take--$295 for an HPNA member and $415 for a non-member...--but if you wait until you are employed in hospice, your employer will usually reimburse you after you pass.

    I didn't want to discourage you, and I hope you have a long and fulfilling career in hospice. I just wanted to be honest about what to expect. I am just now going back to hospice after being a dialysis nurse for two years, and when I told one of my co-workers in dialysis that I was a certified hospice nurse and that the exam was really hard, he smirked and said, "Oh, yeah, I'll bet it was!" in a very sarcastic tone. I don't know why people assume that hospice is easy or that any certification exam would be easy. I know you don't, I'm just saying that a lot of people have the mistaken perception that hospice nursing is easy and that there's not much to know about end of life care. It's a specialty, just like any other type of nursing.

    I also think someone who's been an RN for 20+ years with private duty experience would have no trouble finding a hospice position. Start applying and I bet you'll get calls for interviews, no problem. Already being experienced in working in the field is a big plus.

    I wish you all the best!
    Last edit by westieluv on Sep 30, '14
  7. by   QuiltDog
    I agree, Westieluv. The reality is that we deal with a multitude of terminal diagnoses, plus all the comorbids. Managing symptoms and teaching families how to care for their dying loved one is a tremendous challenge. Also, we have been seeing a trend towards very late hospice referrals, which means you have little time to prepare the family and maintain the patient's comfort.
  8. by   Elle23
    I have no delusions that hospice or the CHPN exam is easy!

    I am just trying to get as knowledgeable and prepared as possible before I try to find a job.

    Thanks for your responses!
  9. by   robhuden
    Quote from Elle23
    I am an RN (20+ years) who has finally decided to take the plunge and pursue hospice nursing.

    I am currently doing private duty nursing, and I plan to stick with my little guy until he doesn't need me anymore (probably a matter of months).

    To prepare until that happens, I am planning on reading/ studying everything I can regarding hospice/ palliative nursing. I was also planning on obtaining the CHPN certification (if I pass the exam, of course).

    Is it weird to obtain the CHPN certification without ever having worked as a hospice nurse? (I have volunteered for hospice in the past so I do have an idea of what is involved).

    My desire is to know as much as I can going into this, and I believe being certified will help my chances of landing a job when the time comes.

    Thoughts?
    I believe you have to have 2 years or a set number of hours working with a hospice in order to take the exam unless that have changed it. I have had my CHPN for 2 years now and it was probably one of the hardest test I have taken. Honestly I would wait and work for a hospice and get the experience. Reading about it is one thing and the experience is quiet different and reading books won't help you much for that test. Also your employer may pay for the test as my has. Good luck.
  10. by   CannondaleRN
    I think the whole point of having a speciality certificate is to show that the nurse has both the knowledge and the experience to earn those letters after her name. There are no shortcuts. I took the CHPN exam after 12 years in hospice. It was a very difficult exam. My employer did not reimburse me for the expense even though I passed. So work in the field first then think about taking the exam.
  11. by   TammyG
    There is no requirement of specific experience as an RN or hospice RN to take the CHPN exam, just a "recommendation" by the board. I took the exam when I was working in oncology. Although I did not have hospice experience per se, I did a lot of palliative care nursing so thought the test was appropriate for me. It was several years ago, but if I recall, there were many questions about oncology symptoms so my background was actually very helpful. There are palliative care nurses who do not work in hospice, remember, although they may counsel families about hospice and interact with hospice personnel frequently.

    You have a lot of nursing experience. If you want to invest the money, I see no downside in taking the exam. The worst that can happen is that you fail and lose your money.
  12. by   hospiRN
    I literally just took the test a week or so ago. It was super difficult. I've only been a nurse for about 2 years, with 1 year as hospice experience and I passed. As someone else stated, a lot of it was oncology symptom management..phew! My employer did pay for the exam and provided compensation for passing. You could always take a practice test from a study book from barnes and noble and see where you stand. I recommend getting the study guide from the NBCHPN and taking their practice exam as well $35 extra.
  13. by   _firefly
    I am a new grad taking the CHPN test in about 2 weeks. I have completed an 8-week palliative care certification course six months ago. I just bought the practice test book online and have a 71.7% on the first 120 questions. You need a 75% on the real test to pass. Granted it requires more reading, but I think this is doable without the experience. If this is what you want, don't let others scare you off.
  14. by   _firefly
    Anybody else taking this test soon or that just took it? Study strategy suggestions? I have the HPNA book, the CHPN practice questions book, and the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing (good read but too much detail I think for this test).

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