I want to be a hospice nurse so bad!!!!

  1. 1
    I originally got into nursing with being a hospice nurse in my plans. First, I went to med surge, to gain experience, and have been doing that for over 3 years now. So, I feel like I have enough experience under my belt to have the autonomy required for being a hospice nurse. I've been studying and reading these threads for the past few months. I hope I have what it takes. If there is such thing as a calling, I do feel that feeling for hospice as I've been on the other side and treated not so good by my parents hospice nurse. I want to make a difference and do for other's what our hospice nurse didn't do for us. I know now that I should have spoke up but I was just too ignorant at the time in my life.

    I would like to know more. I would like to know more about what skills are used in the field. I can insert foleys, perform trach care, start IVs although im not too good at that skill, etc. I do have a lot of compassion to give and like I said I've been studying about the stages of dying, etc.

    If there is anybody that can give me words of encouragement, please feel free. I think about this all the time and I applied for a case mgmt position last week. I know it will be stressful work but am I jumping out of the frying pan into the fire by leaving med surge? I feel like I'm burning ou in med surge. 12 hour shifts and walking miles every day are physically getting to me. And I don't feel that it's fair for my patient o have an unhappy nurse taking care of them. I need this change to hospice so bad!
    fireball78 likes this.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    All of those skills are used.

    Keep applying.

    RockinChick66 likes this.
  5. 5
    It has been my experience as a nurse in an inpatient hospice unit, an on-call hospice field nurse, and now a hospice intake nurse, that the most important skill that a hospice nurse needs is people skills, as in, being able to empathize and listen to patients and family members. The technical stuff matters too, but by this stage in the patients' lives, their greatest need is often emotional support and grief support. They need to be able to vent, to know that it's okay to let go when there's no longer any hope, to be at peace with the end of their life. If you are able to give of yourself and have a real heart for others' grief, you will do fine, and if you feel that you have a calling to do hospice nursing, you probably do possess those qualities.

    Another thing that took some getting used to for me, coming from a long Med/Surg background when I first became a hospice nurse, is the whole idea of comfort care, and the focus not on the patient's recovery and restoration to good health, but rather on the patient's end of life comfort and peace with dying. It may feel at first like you're not doing enough, that they need this treatment or that treatment, but the reality is that when someone if full of cancer or has 10% lung capacity, the only thing we can do is let them go and make it as comfortable and peaceful as we can for them and their family. We actually are "doing enough" just in achieving that.
  6. 3
    If you want some specific hospice skills here are some things you could do.
    1. For every chronic diagnosis you see, take a few minutes to google what comfort care for that diagnosis might look like.
    2. Start practicing open, honest conversations with your pts and their families. Things like "How do you feel about your current diagnosis?" "What are your thoughts on resuscitation?"
    3. Seek opportunities for project management experience. Often areas will have committees that they like staff members to be involved with. One thing about hospice is you will find yourself going beyond your job description (not to be confused with beyond your scope) often, and this is a good way to get some management experience.
    4. Start building relationships. This could be with community hospices, your hospital case managers, MDs, and management at the hospital. Those relationships could be a great asset to a hospice.
    5. Practice your interviewing skills. Take some time to think about examples of good time management, conflict resolution, and prioritization. Double check your references, and keep your resume up to date and specific about your strengths.

    I wish you the best of luck!
  7. 0
    RockinChick66,

    I, like you, went in to nursing (2nd career for me) to become a hospice nurse. I only worked one year in the acute care setting (oncology unit) and then one year home health care before I finally landed my dream job as a hospice RN case manager. Yes, it can be stressful at times, but I think it is much better/more rewarding stress then hospital work (which I absolutely hated).

    Compassion and being a good listener are key, as well as the ability to think on your feet. Also the ability to have open, honest conversations with people, and to really enjoy working with a family, whatever that is considered to be for that person.

    I will say - it is a hard shift in the beginning, because you are no longer focused on fixing things. Everything you do is focused on comfort.

    But keep on pursuing the dream. If you feel hospice is your calling, go for it. I did and I think this is the most rewarding job ever. I feel so blessed to be able to do it.
  8. 0
    RockinChick, Your post could have been made by me. I also have wanted to be a hospice nurse for a long time, except I have only 1 1/2 years of oncology experience. Most hospices want two years, but I went ahead and applied recently. I am hoping they'll consider my application anyway since I volunteered there for a long time before I attended nursing school. I really feel that hospice is something I was meant to do. I really enjoy the comfort care cases we have at work.
  9. 1
    You can find the job if you look. I came right out of nursing school got my license and the first place to hire me was a hospice. I absolutely love it and could never see myself doing anything else. I leave work feeling good about the difference I have made to my pt and the family. The comfort and love that I have given to them means the world to me.
    Leesha likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from LPNcubby
    You can find the job if you look. I came right out of nursing school got my license and the first place to hire me was a hospice. I absolutely love it and could never see myself doing anything else. I leave work feeling good about the difference I have made to my pt and the family. The comfort and love that I have given to them means the world to me.
    LPNCubby, thank you for the encouragement. I actually have an interview set up with my local hospice tomorrow. They did not mind that I only have 1 1/2 years of experience and thought that I'd be a good fit. So hopefully everything in the interview will go well and I'll have a job offer.

    I work with a lot of dying patients at work on the oncology unit, but that is with all the support that a hospital brings. It will be very different assessing and treating patients just on my own. It seems quite daunting, though I know I can do it. I remember talking to a new nurse at the hospice's inpatient center a few years ago when I was volunteering -- she had been in gynecological oncology for 20 years and still felt really overwhelmed when she started hospice. (In fact, I wonder if this might actually be somewhat easier for new nurses like yourself since they haven't grown accustomed to the support of a hospital!) But I am ready for the challenge.
  11. 0
    I'm currently volunteering at an inpatient facility and have found my calling (which I had always suspected, anyway). Hospital nursing is not for me, although I have done it for about 2 years total. Therefore, I have not pursued the few jobs available right now (all of them in hospitals) and am waiting for an opening to occur in this hospice facility.

    Yes, I do realize I may not get a hospice job... and will be absolutely heartbroken if this occurs (no idea what Plan B will be as I hope I won't need it). I love working with pts and families and have always been told I'm good with them; however, I have not used some clinical skills (e.g., IV starts) in a long time and wonder if this will keep me from getting hired (I've always been good with assessments and charting, though).

    Anyway, I hope for the best and wish that everyone who desires to become a hospice nurse will have their dream come true!

    DeLana
  12. 1
    You have what it takes to be a hospice nurse. After graduating from nursing school, I worked on an oncology floor for 10 months and then moved on to hospice. You may place foleys, access portacaths, drain PleurX drains - but rarely do IVs. Blood draws occasionally. Let the people that you interview with know that this is your calling. The nursing skills are important but so is a love for the work and a compassion for your patients. You need to be able to think on your feet, to remain calm when others aren't, and to be kind. Think you can handle it? Then you can! !

    Best of luck to you!
    DeLana_RN likes this.


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