Is Hospice a higher calling?

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57 Posts

I will be starting RN school next week and for the past two years of Prereqs I have said that I wanted to go into Hospice care.

I like the idea of comforting people and their families at such a difficult time. I do believe God has a purpose for all of us--a place that we can use our natural God-given talents and abilities in the best possible way. I feel Hospice is one of the places I could use mine.


42 Posts

I'm sure many hospice nurses would agree with me that we possess a certain quality(or gift if you will) that enables us to deal with the intimacy of our roles as caregivers in the hospice setting. I feel that all nurses possess a gift that is particular to their field of expertise. What I mean is, well, just the fact that we are able to provide comfort, support and advocate for our patients is in itself special. I often feel unworthy of the praise I get with hospice (I've worked in mostly all areas of acute care as a "float nurse" for 3 years prior to my hospice experience). I definitely get more verbal recognition from patients and their families, doctors and the community since I began working with hospice. My response is that I was lucky enough to find my niche and am able to use my gifts in my day to day interactions with patients. I feel as though each field of nursing deserves a high level of respect because we all offer so much to people in need. For example, I've always felt that pediatric nurses have a special ability to relate to their "little patients" in a way that I find very difficult. I do not have children and have often felt uncomfortable in the pediatric setting for fear of inability to relate to children of all ages-not to mention their parents who cope in a multitude of ways based on their fear and feelings of helplessness when their child is sick. I admire nurses of all types RNs, LPNs, and nurse assistants. We all have a "special calling" and I think that is why we are here. We, as nurses, tend to sometimes forget the importance of reassurance and recognition. I think the highest compliments are from other nurses because I know how harshly we tend to judge each other. We must realize that all healthcare providers are equally as important and we possess unique individual qualities that affect the well-being of our patients. None of us are perfect, we are only human. We all have the ability to learn from others. We really need to set a better example for future nurses who already feel inferior to experienced nurses. I remember vividly how I felt during my first year of nursing-scared to death of some of the seasoned nurses because of their harsh judgement and frustration. okay, that's my piece-jansgalRN


20 Posts

Originally posted by rosemadder

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.

I don't know who the call came from, or where...but I do know that when I was checking into Hospice nursing....I felt something tugging at me, maybe my soul, maybe early senility. I followed, and never regretted it. That tugging, pulling, also pulled me across the ocean to visit and work at the birthplace of the movement as we know it today, and to meet the woman who decided to "change the face of death" so to speak (but dislikes that reference) It was definitely a power pulling at me to do these things.


62 Posts

Just recently, a dear friend of mine died after months of a decline in health secondary to HIV. His medications had made him unable to eat, his counts dropped and he could not recover. I was involved both physically and emotionally with his partner's decision to bring him home to die. I felt that I had a surge of strength as a nurse and advocate not just to the patient, but to all who knew him and were concerned with the impending loss we all expereinced in his last days.

The hospice nurse was wonderful, professional and compassionate (although she had a nervous laugh which even so, lightened up the room).

When I was in school, teachers and colleagues alike said I would be good at Hospice nursing. I have been floor nursing for 3 years and could never point a finger on a specialty:

I'm hoping to explore this area, and in fact, have jumped into the void and quit my job.

I have always believed that death can be as beautiful a journey as birth, especially for those who have suffered for so long from illness. I'm intrigued by the psychology of death and the "letting go" we all must face when losing a loved one. As a Med-Surg nurse, I have been effective and true, however, I am greatly dissatisfied to the point of wondering if I was ever meant to be a nurse.

I'm hoping to expand that effectiveness into this area.

You all speak of a "calling" -- perhaps this recent experience is my own "tug" toward it because I made the drastic decision to quit my job as a passive result from it, and I feel confident that I can do it.

In any case, what ALL nurses do is just amazing from mere students to 50-year veterans -- our accolades go beyond recognition. We all know that what we do is important to mankind, but to each our own, as soulful an experience any human being can know.


42 Posts

I just read your post regarding the hospice nurse calling. It seems to me that you answered a "calling" when you chose nursing. I don't even know you, but I know that you possess the qualities that I want my nurse to have. That goes for inpatient, outpatient, hospice or whatever. I have been a hospice nurse for 3 years. In the last three years, I have learned so much about the importance of appreciating each moment that I cannot express in words how grateful I am for my job. I love my patients and have the ability to "be with" them when I visit them. If you cannot decide whether or not it is a field for you, I'll make the decision for you--GO FOR IT! You will be greatly rewarded like no other nursing position available. Feel free to email or send me a private message if you have any questions or need any suggestions. I wish you well.


1,245 Posts

Originally posted by rosemadder

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?

Just posting because I love your name Glad to meet you I am constant reader. I hope you did not suffer any of the things rose madder suffered


7 Posts

Both my parents were on hospice before they died. I was so impressed with one hospice rn named Susie that I felt called to try hospice nursing once my grieving was complete. I went in expecting to help people come to terms and accept the dying process. What I found was that many of the patients didn't want to talk about the "D" word. For me it was a very sad area of nursing to be in and I went back to the ICU after 8 months. Those nurses that stay in hospice have a special gift. Several felt that they were called by God to do this work and they were the ones that were able to handle all the death and grief and still be very effective, caring, compassionate in their job. If you feel the calling go for it. If it doesn't work out there are other areas you can move on to.


2,719 Posts

I believe that refering to it as a higher calling is a form of romanticizing it.

So noble, so supreemly good. Takes a special kind of person, not everyone can be one, etc.

I am moving back to critical care from hospice. I can tell you I have provided wonderful end of life care for many people (not just with hospice) as does any nurse in critical care (and most (if not all) specialities)

I am sorry but hospice is not special. I have cared for far too many who died without hospice and yet I still provided a means for a good death.

Dying is part of nursing care no matter your speciality. Palliative end of life care and and heroic care.

It is natural for a student to romantasize but it is not reality.


6 Posts

I've been a hospice nurse for 10 years now. I think we all have different areas of nursing where it's a "right fit". The thing I've always bristled at is being called an "angel" for what I do. I don't think this area is anything more special than other areas of nursing. It's just what works best for each nurse, and for me it's hospice work. Of course, I am the QUEEN of boundaries, so that's probably why it works so well for me! ;) That and my twisted sense of humor?!? :eek:



8 Posts

I know that this is an old thread, but I am very curious to know if you are working for hospice now, Rosemadder. We are very much alike. I ABSOLUTELY, WHOLEHEARTEDLY believe that hospice was my "higher calling." I too, was a non-traditional student graduating in Dec. 2002 at the ripe old age of 38. I went into nursing school expecting to launch into a career as a postpartum RN (what better way to spend a workday, than being surrounded by snuggly babies!) From my first clinical rotation, it became apparent that God had other plans for "my" career. By graduation, I knew in my heart that I was meant to be a hospice nurse. Despite being told by everyone that 1-2 years of med/surg experience was a MUST, I went right into hospice. I am fortunate to live in a city where there is a free-standing inpatient hospice unit. (I don't think that hospice home care is a good idea for a new grad) I was also fortunate to work with some well-seasoned nurses in an environment that is super supportive. I have absolutely no regrets, and I know that I will spend my entire career as a hospice nurse. I am in the process of studying for the hospice/palliative care certification, and also recently heard about a MSN program offerring a masters degree in Hospice/Palliative Nursing. If you truly feel that "all roads lead to hospice", and believe me when I tell you that I know EXACTLY how that feels, trust your heart and go for it. With all the choices available in nursing, there is much to be said for knowing in your heart that you are right where you are meant to be. Best of luck to you!!


62 Posts

I've been doing hospice nursing for over a year now and have found it very gratifying EXCEPT the fact that everyday I am facing my own mortality and somedays it freaks me out. Thankfully, my office is very supportive and if there is ever a time I need to back out for a day, there is never a question but always understanding. Anyone else feel this way?

Also, on reading the myriad of commentaries surrounding the death of Elisabeth Kuhbler-Ross, --who made some stunning statements from within her own dementia as she neared death, --one author stated (from the NY TIMES MAGAZINE) that those who work closely with the dying inevitably experience an involuntary darkening of the spirit.

Any comments on this? I certainly want to avoid this at all costs and sometimes just taking the time to "fill my cup" isn't enough.

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