considering career in hospice

  1. Hello...

    I am a registered nurse in Massachusetts. I graduated nursing school in 1994 and since that time have worked exclusively in outpatient settings, primarily urban neighborhood health clinics.

    After a great deal of thought, as well as a very profound experience with hospice care during the recent illness and death of my father, I am considering pursuing a career in hospice.

    I am writing to ask how to best pursue this goal. I understand that some basic medical/surgical experience will likely be required. Is oncology experience also recommended? Essentially, I would like to know how to best prepare for a career in hospice nursing.

    I would greatly appreciated any advice or suggestions.
    Thank you very much.

    Andrea
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   HotSpam
    Oncology is nice only because many people in Hospice care have Cancer and some oncology helps to prepare you for the stages, etc.

    More important for Hospice is palliative care specialty. Symptom control in hospice can be much further reaching than expected.

    I hope your experience included your Father dying at home without the uglyness of uncontrolled pain, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. That is the bulk of a hospice nurses responsibility in my opinion.

    When you feel your work is really important it becomes your life.

    Jay
  4. by   jwelhwel
    Originally posted by andrea_s:
    Hello...

    I am a registered nurse in Massachusetts. I graduated nursing school in 1994 and since that time have worked exclusively in outpatient settings, primarily urban neighborhood health clinics.

    After a great deal of thought, as well as a very profound experience with hospice care during the recent illness and death of my father, I am considering pursuing a career in hospice.

    I am writing to ask how to best pursue this goal. I understand that some basic medical/surgical experience will likely be required. Is oncology experience also recommended? Essentially, I would like to know how to best prepare for a career in hospice nursing.

    I would greatly appreciated any advice or suggestions.
    Thank you very much.

    Andrea
    I have been a hospice RN for 15 years. Outpatient clinic would be an excellent background for hospice since you have been dealing with all kinds of patients. Onocology background is not necessary but helpful. A sensitivity to people is as important as any academic training.The agency I work for hires RN's with no hospice or onocology experience.
  5. by   Julie Primmer
    I've worked for hospice for a number of years, The first and most important thing it takes to work in hospice is to be comfortable with death and dying. Make sure you have dealt with your own mortality before you put yourself in a postition where you are facing it every day. Please give yourself time to grieve for your father before you have to deal with more death and others grief.
    Once you have done that, Hospice is a wonderful calling. Make sure you apply to a reputable hospice, preferably a not for profit. Any training, seminars you can go to on pain and symptom control would be very helpful.
    Good luck. God Bless.
  6. by   darby
    .
    i would recommend hospice nursing for a well seasoned individual,death and dying isdealing with their family as well as the physical needs,hiv is quite common and their acceptance is rare,the denial,shame,and the stigma of todays social needs are to be accepted by the nurse long before she goes into hospice setting,i am 57 years old and this learning experience makes me appreciate life more each day,be mature and very reality oriented,not for the novice or new nursing student.
  7. by   mjvr
    I cannot imagine more gratifying work than hospice nursing, but as suggested by others, one must be comfortable with death and dying to recognize needs and provide appropriate support and intervention to patients and families. My 12 yr. old son has been a hospice volunteer for 3 years and recently had to compose a paper and deliver a talk on his planned career--hospice nursing. He had to identify the the important qualities to posess when entering this field, and his choice surprised and impressed me--he stated, "You must be non-judgemental." He elaborated on the reason this is critical, and I think he hit the nail on the head by describing the circumstances surrounding one of my patients-- The family home was located in a very dangerous area; the home and patient were filthy; and the educational level of all participants in care was borderline retarded. Despite these facts, the patient had a beautiful, peaceful death at home. I feel privileged to serve the families in my care; hospice provides the opportunity for daily inspiration and growth.
  8. by   aimeee
    Wow, mjvr! I am so impressed that your son is a volunteer. And for 3 years already. I can't imagine my 9 year old doing that right now. You must be a terrific role model for him.
  9. by   darby
    Originally posted by mjvr
    I cannot imagine more gratifying work than hospice nursing, but as suggested by others, one must be comfortable with death and dying to recognize needs and provide appropriate support and intervention to patients and families. My 12 yr. old son has been a hospice volunteer for 3 years and recently had to compose a paper and deliver a talk on his planned career--hospice nursing. He had to identify the the important qualities to posess when entering this field, and his choice surprised and impressed me--he stated, "You must be non-judgemental." He elaborated on the reason this is critical, and I think he hit the nail on the head by describing the circumstances surrounding one of my patients-- The family home was located in a very dangerous area; the home and patient were filthy; and the educational level of all participants in care was borderline retarded. Despite these facts, the patient had a beautiful, peaceful death at home. I feel privileged to serve the families in my care; hospice provides the opportunity for daily inspiration and growth.
    hi,i have been a nurse,lpn,30 years and your letter warms my heart,you are special ,dont ever change,god bless,darby.
  10. by   Rae
    I have been an ICU nurse for 21 years. I am currently orienting to Hospice and after only 1 week, I don't know why I waited so long to make the change. I have been contemplating this change for over 2 years now. I was so discouraged with keeping patients alive that would have no quality of life. I just couldn't do it anymore. After only 1 week of seeing patients be at home enjoying what time they have left, I know in my heart that this will be the most gratifying experience in my nursing career. There is so much to learn because the focus for my patients will now be palliative care and not aggressive care. Good luck in your journey.

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