Palliative Care Unit in a hospital


anyone work in a palliative care unit?

i am looking for a new job, and as i was searching through the job postings for available rn positions at one of our local hospitals, i noticed a job opportunity in a palliative care unit.

this immediately caught my attention. this hospital is looking to hire a full time registered nurse to work night shift, 7p - 7:30a, in their palliative care unit, and it mentions that previous hospice experience and/or previous critical care experience is preferred.

this has me really intriqued and excited because night shift is my preference, since i'm a night owl and my previous hospital jobs were night shift. i started out in critical care as a gn, for 10 months i worked in a coronary care unit which took a lot of medical icu patients as well. my most recent job was as a home hospice nurse (primary care nurse) and i was with that hospice organization for 9 months. i really enjoyed providing hospice and palliative care to patients, but i came to the realization that i was too young and too inexperienced to be working outside in the field all alone. i decided i'd be better off returning to the hospital scene where i could be surrounded by other co-workers and training opportunities and the ability to further increase my acute care skills.

anyway, i don't know anything else about this palliative care unit. i am seriously considering applying for the job. i would love it if i could hear from some nurses who currently work in a hospital's palliative care unit, or have done so in the past??? what exactly is a palliative care unit? what is the patient population like? what is the typical staffing ratio for a palliative care unit?

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

our facility, while not a hospital, is still an acute care facility, where we serve hospice and palliative care pts.

you get your usual variety of cancers, aids, end stage renal/cardiac/resp/hepatic failures, et al.

most are still receiving treatments.

some are transitioning from aggressive treatment to cmo.

all should be there r/t intractable s/s of their disease or comorbids.

i wouldn't take a ratio any more than 1:4....tops. TOPS.

most times, i have 1:2.

it sounds like you have wonderful experience and actually, sounds like this opening was written exactly for you.

let us know what happens, and how it goes.

and you're right.

working inpatient, will give you much more support atc.

best of everything.



105 Posts

Leslie, thank you so much for your reply, that means so much to me! I really appreciate it!

Whispera, MSN, RN

3,458 Posts

Specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

I worked in a hospice unit in a hospital last year. There were 8 beds and staffing was one nurse and one aide per than number of patients. We were WAYYYY too busy when we were full.

I worked days and there was a social worker, chaplain. patient care coordinator (an RN), and an education coordinator (an RN) available to help in a pinch, sometimes. We had volunteers most of the time, who answered the phones. The night shift was rather alone without other staff available to help.


349 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care, Gero, dementia.

Not exactly the same, but I worked in a VA where we had a hospice/palliative care unit w/i the LTC facility. Many of the palliative care pts were there while they were going through a course of treatment, often including daily radiation for an extended period of time. They came to the unit either b/c they lived far away (this is the major VA hospital in the state), or had limited/no support system to provide support and management while being treated. Some folks wound up transitioning over to the hospice part of the unit if their condition deterioriated.

As I said, this is probably unique to the VA system, but there may be something parallel in the civilian sector.


109 Posts

Specializes in Med/surg. ED. Palliative. Geront. Has 20 years experience.

I work in a tertiary palliative hospice unit in an acute hospital. We have those pts with symptoms that can't be dealt with at home or at a hospice (intractible pain/nausea/compicated drains/family dynamics/anything else you can think of).

It's like an ICU for palliative pts. We do ketamine infusions, methadone infusions - all kinds of front line powerful stuff. It's amazing and I love it.

We have 10 beds on our unit and prefer to keep one empty in case a pt in the community has a crisis. We have one dedicated full time physician. Our staffing is 3 RN's and an LPN on days and 2 RN's and an LPN on nights.

We have a high turnover - we lose about 80% of those we admit. This is because they are so acutely ill - but we are able give them a comfortable, peaceful death, which they would not have had elsewhere.

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