Becoming a Hospice Nurse

Specialties Hospice


Hello all, I have 9 years experience as an RN in an acute care hospital. I would love to work in hospice but am unsure how to go about acheiving this goal. Any information on certification needed, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Specializes in Hospice/Palliative Nursing.

You need experience before attempting certification. Exam is very difficult!

You don't need certification to become a hospice nurse. Just apply somewhere, and I am sure you will get the job. You have to be comfortable working independently, but I am sure that you are highly qualified for hospice nursing. :)

Specializes in Med/Surg, Tele, Dialysis, Hospice.

I got my CHPN certification after working hospice for almost two years. It is a very difficult exam, and if I had taken it before I had any hospice experience it would have been a hundred times harder. Having hospice experience is almost a must for taking this exam, as you can draw on your experiences when answering the harder questions.

Like the PP said, certification is not required to get hired as a hospice nurse. I have seen a lot of people with zero hospice experience get hired into hospice positions, just keep applying and it will eventually happen. Then, once you get some experience, take the exam if you feel that hospice is your calling and you truly want to make it your specialty. It is amazing how much there really is to know about hospice nursing beyond how to handle a patient death.

I have been researching hospice nursing positions in my area. It seems as if all the positions posted state home health/hospice. Does this mean that it is a mixed client base?

Also, I am a bit disconcerted by the big mega-corporations who seem to be the only providers of hospice care in this area. All of them seem to have either been fined, or are currently under federal scrutiny for medicare fraud type activities, and the internet is rampant with comments regarding how top-heavy and and money hungry they are on a corporate level, and understaffed, underpaid, over paperworked on the hands-on care staff level.

Is this the reality of it?

having been a Hospice Nurse for going on 13 years, I will say that I feel it is the most rewarding nursing possible. Reason, the families tend to appreciate all that you do to make their loved on comfortable. Now, as to experience, the only way is to get involved and apply. If you are a people person, and are not afraid of the elderly and dying in general, and are willing to take constructive criticism and be prepared to learn things that only someone with experience can teach you, then go for it. We dont eat our own in the Hospice side, well, not usually....sometimes though.... anyway, The CHPN test is a tough one, and you should only take it after you have had at least 2 years experience, it helps you to understand all that is going on out there.

And last, as to which company to go for, I can tell you that I have been tempted by the big mega-hospice corporation type, and the bennies re fantastic, almost make me drool to think of them, but they tend to pay low (probably to make up for the bennies), I wanted to switch from a small hospice with good pay to a mega-hospice and found I would be taking a major cut in pay (approx 600 every two weeks or more). (oh but I would love the 4 weeks vacation.....). Just go out and find one, ask around about their patient care reputation, and get into it and begin learning. that is how most of us started.

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