Is Hospice a higher calling?

Specialties Hospice


I am curious to know if anyone feels as if they were called to Hospice Nursing? I am currently a nursing student who will graduate this May and pursued a nursing career (at the age of 38) due to my experiences with Hospice volunteering. Since attending nursing school I have not taken any hospice patients due to my work load and family responsibilities. Now it is time for graduation and everytime I think about where I will go to work....the thought goes through my mind "All roads lead to Hospice". Has anyone had similar experiences with Hospice?

jnette, ASN, EMT-I

4,388 Posts

Specializes in Hemodialysis, Home Health.


I don't know that it would be a "higher calling", but I believe it does take a certain type of person to go that route. Just as it takes a certain kind of person do do LTC or Psych, OB, or ER, etc. I believe we have all been endowed with certain gifts and talents, and a person seems to just know or sense those areas in which they would be best able to truly give of themselves and at the same time, receive.

I have not had the privelege of working hospice, but I can tell you that it HAS been an area that I think of a LOT, and feel very drawn to. I do see myself looking at this area of nursing in the future and would consider it an honor to care for the dying and their loved ones.

Follow your heart. The desire is there for a reason.

Specializes in Med-Surg.

I think hospice takes a very special person who has that soothing way with words...but can aslo be firm if needed. I don't think I am cut out for it...I just went out with a hospice nurse for a day, and while I can see that there are some good things about it, I just don't think I have it in me. We had to go on a bereavement visit where the patient had just died that morning, and the nurse seemed to know exactly the right things to say to this family...the right questions to ask, and the right time to back off. I would have put my foot in my mouth 500 times if it had been me.

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

I have been a hospice volunteer for over 10 years and I do think it has the ability to pull certain people with a dedication or feeling they think people should die with dignity. I almost took a hospice job but the oncall at all hours of the night I just could not do at almost 50.


aimeee, BSN, RN

932 Posts

I would hesitate to use the words "higher calling" because I would not want to put one particular specialty above others. Hospice care does require a particular sort of person with a particular set of skills and talents. We often have our patients/families tell us how thankful they are for our services. I like to tell them that I feel privledged to be a part of their care as there is no greater reward than knowing I have made a difference for them.

Specializes in Med-Surg.

I don't think she mean higher calling as in better, but as in a calling, like feeling led by God (or other higher power) to this type of work.

Nurse Izzy

129 Posts

It definitely takes a very special person to be able to handle Hospice. (No, I'm not saying that nurses aren't special people, in general - we all already know that it takes very special people to get into the field and stay at all!) It's not everyone who can handle working with death and dying daily. In that sense, yes, I do believe it is a "higher-calling" - just as some people are "called" to go into Labor/Delivery and some are called to Oncology, etc. You just have to be very in-tune with yourself and your own mortality (easier said than done!) and want to help people through the dying process - families too. A good hospice nurse can make all the difference in a death experience - can almost turn it from such a negative experience into a good one. Almost.


216 Posts

Originally posted by memphispanda

I don't think she mean higher calling as in better, but as in a calling, like feeling led by God (or other higher power) to this type of work.

You are correct (and read me well). I didn't mean a higher or better type of care, I meant called by a higher power to work with the dying.

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN

3 Articles; 3,563 Posts

I worked inpatient acute care hospice for four years. When I worked with great co-workers, great boss in a wonderful unit, it really felt like a calling.

When I moved to another city and contiunued to work for the same company, tiny, crowded, unit in disrepair, lazy co-workers and psycho boss, that special "calling" feeling disappeared.

It all depends on the setting and working conditions.

Bundles of Joy

10 Posts

I worked as a Hospice nurse for 5 years and had to leave. It is a very tough field to keep a emotional balance for yourself. I remained frustrated, agitiated and depressed. Other RN's that I worked with felt more "in-tuned" with the patients but constantly came into work upset.

I don't know exactly what it was, but I had to leave. If you go into this area keep a spiritual/emotional guide in your back pocket....

:stone you're going to need it!!!

Lucy RN

23 Posts

I have been a Hospice nurse for 3 years. I think that just like other areas of nursing, you have the area that you are best at. I for instance worked acute care for 15 years and when I worked in the ER I was in the bathroom every morning with a stomach ache, I just hated that "unexpected" of what would walk through the door next. Now some nurses reading this would laugh and say that they love that, but I hated it!!! :) :)

Anyway, I think that I was meant to be doing this job. Sometimes I am in a difficult situation with a pt or family and things come out of my mouth that I wonder how I knew what to say or do. It comes naturally to me and I do have days that are unbearably sad and I will cry all the way home, but I comfort myself with knowing that no matter what, I do make a difference.

When I have a family send a letter to Hospice that says that they didn't know what they would have done without us/me, it makes my heart feel very good. If you feel that you are not happy with what you are doing, then you need to change to something else that makes you is way to short !!!!:) :)

TinyNurse, RN

692 Posts

Specializes in Emergency.

As a senior level student I've precepted with Hospice in my area twice. I think it definitely takes a special person to do hospice nursing. More maturity ? It just seemed like a "different" kind of nursing. I loved precepting with Hospice. I hope to do it someday after I've grown as a nurse and a person.


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