Young hospice/palliative nurse?

  1. Hello fellow nurses! Apologies in advance for the long post!

    I'm a relatively young hospice nurse (under 25) who recently transferred from an acute medical ward to palliative nursing. I have been working at the hospice's IPU for a little under a year. I should also note that I'm very much new to nursing in general having only graduated about a year and a half ago.

    I came across palliative nursing while working at the hospital and felt very positive that this was an area of interest for me. Throughout my time in the hospital I felt a strong need to have more time with my patients, their families and strengthen my clinical assessment skills and my interpersonal/communication skills (which is something I had a lot of difficulty in doing while in the acute hospital setting due to time restrictions and the general BUSY/intense environment).

    Personality wise, I didn't deal well with the stress and the busy environment of the hospital too well either and it was affecting my general well-being. A colleague recommended to apply for a hospice nursing job as she had also been offered a position and found very supportive. I interviewed and was offered a job position too despite being under the 2 year post-grad mark.

    To summarize my experience so far.. I love palliative nursing, it is an amazing and challenging area of work. I feel very privileged for the opportunity I have in working so closely with my patients and their families, as well as the touching memories of my incredible patients and their stories.

    TLDR; however.. I feel I might have come into nursing too young and this has been a comment made by many of my current colleagues. This upsets me as I felt I finally found where I belong (in nursing) and now I am having many doubts.
    One of the main thoughts I have been having is whether I would be deemed a candidate for other non-hospice jobs after transferring to hospice nursing. It was brought up by a senior colleague that many nurses come into hospice at the end of their careers. In my situation I came into palliative nursing thinking that my career had just begun!
    This made me very doubtful and worried about the decisions in career choices I have made.

    Another issue I have been working to overcome is the fact that I am VERY junior compared to my very experienced work colleagues, (I mean they are absolutely amazing- It's incredible how much knowledge and communication skills they have!)
    Nevertheless (and despite the amazing encouragement and support from some of my colleagues) I feel very incompetent and "stupid" due to the difference in age and experience. I do understand I don't have the life experience that my senior colleagues have and perhaps this is why I do not fully belong in palliative/hospice nursing. I am also very doubtful and ask many questions because I'm not very confident in my own nursing skills yet (I have so much to learn) and do not relate well to my confident and very experience colleagues.

    To finish my very long post.. I wanted to know whether you have any advice for me and whether you think I may be too young for palliative nursing being under 25yrs. Should I perhaps try seek another job position to remain "hireable" and come back to hospice nursing later on in my career? Would love to hear your comments and thoughts.

    Many thanks for reading and best wishes to you all.
    Last edit by RNleena on Sep 18, '17
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    About RNleena

    Joined: May '16; Posts: 5

    11 Comments

  3. by   RN416
    I am in a similar situation and have had similar doubts as you... I am also under 25 but I am not a hospice nurse, I work in home health. I LOVE home health and like you, I was burned out after just one year in the hospital and frustrated that I couldn't spend enough time with my patients in the hectic busy environment. I've been in this home health job for a year now and from the start I've had the same feelings as you, especially about being hireable for other jobs later on in my career. But then I think about what other jobs I'd even apply for. I definitely don't see myself working in a hospital ever again. If I had to spend the rest of my career in home health, I'd be happy. So maybe think of it like that and ask yourself that, if you really love your job and think you've found your place in nursing (which by the way, is a HUGE relief and so nice to feel fulfilled by the work you do) then I wouldn't worry too much! Hope that helps. Also, about the confidence in skills aspect, it comes with experience and the more you practice the easier it becomes. And I'm sure you have a supervisor at your office, I'm sure she/he wouldn't mind you calling and just running things by them to get a second opinion. Better to ask then risk harming your patient!
  4. by   TammyG
    Nonsense. The only thing that a good hospice nurse needs to have is a passion for her patients. It is a calling. It used to be that nurses often went to hospice at the end of their careers because they wanted to be off their feet. That is not the case anymore. Hospice is it's own specialty, and what with budget pressures on hospices like every other healthcare entity, hospice nurses have larger patient loads and more acute patients. We have many patients in our hospice with TPN feeding, feeding tubes, respirators, LVAs and every other thing. Maybe it was that way long ago, but hospice is no longer a place where you can work short hours and stay off your feet.

    We have had several very young nurses in our home hospice. Many have not worked out, for whatever reason, they have moved on. But the ones that have stayed are excellent nurses and are much loved by their patients. And every older hospice nurse will tell you that many patients perk up with a young person in the house.

    I would stop your self doubts and throw yourself into the experience. You will know whether it is right for you, and that will have nothing to do with whether your colleagues think you are too young.
  5. by   RN_SummerSeas
    Maybe other nurses go to hospice at the end of their career b/c they just found it? I have been a nurse for 5+ years and have done hospice most of that time and love it. All you need is the desire to do and a good company to work for. You should NOT feel that you are too young to do hospice nursing, that is untrue! I did nursing as a second calling and am much older than you but still younger as a nurse in my career and I am thankful I found this calling because you get to spend real quality time with patients as compared to acute care and even certified home care. I think if you like it, stick with it. In time you will feel more confident and I am sure you are doing very well with the knowledge you have. Be kind, caring and follow protocol and you will do just fine!
  6. by   as4304
    I got a job right after graduation in an ICU. I worked there for two years. I hated it! I only had personal experience with hospice thought family and friends (while in nursing school) . I knew hospice would be a perfect fit for me. I was 27 at the time . The only thing I miss about the hospital is the 3 twelves a week.
  7. by   Toadette
    I joined my hospice as the youngest employee they'd ever hired - I was a 23 year old case manager with 4 years of acute care experience under my belt. It was tough but it was the best decision I ever made. I love my job and know that I'll enjoy it for years to come.

    Stick with what you love and do your best. You can do it!
    Last edit by Toadette on Oct 14, '17 : Reason: Clarity
  8. by   hospicern92
    I created this account just to say that I am also a young hospice nurse. I am 25 and just took my first nursing job on a hospice unit in a hospital. I went into nursing school knowing that I was interested in hospice nursing but tried to keep my mind open to other things during clinical rotations. Towards the end of my school, I began volunteering in hospice and was lucky enough to complete a clinical rotation on a hospice floor. I loved it right away. The teamwork among the different disciplines in superb and I love connecting with patients and families.

    Anyway, I do sometimes have the same fear as you, but I think that it is normal to have doubts as a new nurse no matter where you are. Ultimately, if something feels right, why try to change it just because it's slightly off the beaten path?
  9. by   BeckyESRN
    The thing is, you're going to be a young, newer nurse no matter where you're working. If you're passionate about hospice and palliative care, then that is exactly where you should be! There is no age limit or number of years of experience that automatically make one a good nurse. I've met nurses with 25+ years of experience that felt like brand new nurses when technology starting taking over health care and I've met some brand-spanking-new nurses that have an amazing "feel" for nursing. If you're 52 or 25, you have valuable skills and can thrive in any area.
  10. by   Ambersmom
    No you are not too young, do what inspires you, gratifies you, and makes you happy. I worked in pallo/hospice and we had a variety of ages of nurses from 20yrs old to 60years old. Age in hospice doesnt matter, your empathy does.
  11. by   tectonic6086
    I appreciate this thread for alleviating my anxiety. I'm 31 and have been an RN for just two years. I felt as if hospice would be my "end goal," as a nurse. I am considering hospice as my new specialty after some time in dialysis and detox/addictions. It was always in my mind as something of interest. I always thought that my background as a funeral director would seem creepy or undesired-- but the amazing nurse I interviewed with saw it as a benefit. I've always found a humbling comfort in death and dying. I think it's my calling.
  12. by   Kesmin
    Hi there. Read your post and felt the need to reply. This will also be a long one.
    I always knew palliative care was where I wanted to be, throughout my training i did all I could to gear my placements towards either end of life patients or oncology and other life limiting conditions.
    After qualifying I did a year in cardiac medicine and surgery. First chance I had after that (weeks) I was in a hospice.
    I do recognise so many of the things you are experiencing and there are a few things you need to remember.
    One of the great drives in the advancement of nursing practice is young people joining teams and imparting new ideas etc, palliative care needs this, palliative needs to evolve too. Yes the older more experienced nurses seem to bring so much to the table but don't devalue what you bring.
    I stayed at the hospice for 18 months and then left as I moved counties, I didn't intend to leave palliative care, despite my worries I was too young and I experienced, but life panned out a little differently and after a few agency shifts I ended up intrigued by and specialising in school nursing.
    16 years later, guess what, I'm back in a hospice, just finished the first 3 months. I've come back to my nursing roots, and I am so glad, I am also still young enough to live my student nurse dream.
    I had no trouble getting a job back in palliative care although I believed I had no skills. in the UK at least, employers will see potential when it's deserved.
    If you feel you need to go do something else then that is something you must do, if you do only two things on the back to of this post please, remember what your patients have taught you about how we should live life, learn from their mistakes and their joys, they would want you to have that gift.
    Secondly, remember what your colleagues have taught you, to communicate well, to have empathy and show kindness, to advocate for your patients and to always see the wider picture, will stand you in good stead what ever you choose to do, far from being deskilled you will now hold the most important skills a nurse can have.
    i don't regret the choices I made but I do wish I'd come back sooner, however I do still wonder if I would have burnt out if I'd stayed as so young when I started. Once again I bring new things to a team, as I said, that's important. I also wonder if I will ever be as good as my senior colleagues. Then I'll sit and watch the sunrise with a patient and know that it doesn't matter I do t know where everything is on the selves in the stock room, or I can't recite opioids conversion charts, that's stuff I can look up, being a positive presence is a skill that doesn't come from a text book or a policy.
    You will have a gained a great foundation whatever you choose to do.
  13. by   sonicleese
    Go for it. All you have to be is the amazing young woman that you are with an open heart and desire to follow your calling. I was just hired in a hospice setting and the age range varies.
    Don't be intimidated by the age differences you've seen. It may be different somewhere else, and the previous poster was right that sometimes, a young heart is just what the room needs.
    I'm 41, so, older than you, but I have always admired and respected the younger nurses for being so much wiser and more compassionate than I was in my 20's!
    Trust your heart and do what's right for you. You can do it! Don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen right away.... I've been trying to break into Hospice for a few years and it was finally the right time.
    Peace!!

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