Dear Nurse Beth,
I'm currently in my fourth semester of nursing school. I was thinking of working in the hospice area of patient care. Should I first get more nursing experience in a hospital setting or just focus on entering the hospice field?
Dear Wants to Start in Hospice,
Congrats on being close to graduating! Kind and compassionate nurses are drawn to end of life care. Many hospice organizations require 1-2 years of clinical experience. There are good reasons for this.
You will gain fundamental nursing skills by working in the hospital. You will be exposed to terminally ill patients and begin to understand what dying looks like for the patient and the family. You will learn about pain management, multimodal pain medication, and how to position a patient to make them comfortable. You will learn to listen and be present.
Working in the hospital prepares you to work independently in the home setting. Career wise, starting in the hospital and then specializing is recommended over starting in a narrow speciality.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
I think everyone is different and if you truly have a passion for hospice care, you have nothing to lose by applying and if the hospice agency is interested, maybe they will bring you in for an interview. If you are lucky enough to get an interview, you need to ask good questions about what kind of orientation you will get, how long orientation will be, etc. That being said, if it doesn't work out at this time, consider volunteering for a hospice in your community as you work to gain the nursing skills needed to become a great hospice case manager. I can't think of any agency that would turn away a volunteer!
As ohiomatka said above, another option would be to apply for a hospice/palliative care unit in an inpatient facility.
Finally, if you have another semester of school, is there a way you can do a clinical rotation in hospice? Just a thought
Best of luck to you whatever you decide!!
Last edit by LaurieCRNP2002 on Nov 17
: Reason: Additional comment