Palliative Care Nursing


Hello! I am a soon to be graduate nurse in May 2016 and I have found a liking in Palliative Care. A lot of the patients I take care of in clinical are on CMO and I really enjoy helping them as much as I possibly can in their last hours.

I was wondering if anyone has any information on Palliative Care nursing. Can you strictly be a palliative care nurse or do you have to become a NP then specialize in Palliative/hospice care? Any more information regarding this is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

Great that you are interested in such a rewarding speciality,

most all opportunities require broad base clinical experience as med surg, LTC, even some icu

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

1 Article; 3,377 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 12 years experience.

First, let me clarify that there is a difference between palliative care and hospice nursing. Palliative care focuses on chronic symptom management with the goal of enhancing quality of life. This care may be extended to those who are terminally ill, and those who aren't. Those who are seeking curative care for their disease, and those who aren't. Hospice care is specific to terminally ill patients who are expected to live six months or less. This is a distinction often missed, and I'm not sure which you are expressing an interest in.

I agree with Sallyrnrtt that most of these positions do, and should, require experience in other areas of nursing first. In addition to the complex medical care that these patients require, if you're working in the home, you are doing so very independently. Experience is necessary to build competent assessment and decision making skills. Furthermore, there is a huge psycho-social component to caring for these patients. Nurses should be comfortable discussing death and dying, actively listening, providing emotional support to patients and family, and responding to a variety of spiritual and cultural needs. As a graduate nurse, you would benefit immensely from learning and practicing these skills in an acute care environment. Certain specialities, such as oncology, may give you more exposure to these situations.