Private Duty Nursing

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    Many decades ago, private duty nursing was the primary employer of nurses. Patients and their families hired their own nurses to care for them during periods of illness in the home or in the hospital. In fact, early schools of nursing trained students for this as opposed to a more acute care focus. It wasn't until the 20th century when employment avenues shifted to hospital and long term care facilities. Despite the large drop in demand for this specialty, there are still opportunities for nurses, and growth is occurring in the pediatric patient population. Giving individualized, one on one care is one of the big advantages to private duty nursing.

    Both registered nurses and licensed practical nurses work in private duty nursing. Both require an active license. It is also important to be certified in basic life support.

    Work Environment/Salary

    Most of the private duty jobs are in the home of the patient. Some patients and families may hire a private duty nurse to work at the bedside while they or their family member are in the hospital. Some pediatric private duty nurses may assist them in getting ready for school or appointments. Some are employed by school districts to care for these patients during school hours.

    Private duty nurses typically work for an agency, but some can work as a private contractor. Agencies are advantageous in that they can find cases for the nurse to work on, thus eliminating the need for advertising and other obligations such as taxes and insurance. Some patients and families may request that their nurse travel with them to vacation spots although that is not common. The pay in private duty nursing is typically lower than other fields of nursing.

    Skills / Qualities

    An experienced private duty nurse will be knowledgeable in many different areas such as ventilator and tracheostomy care, oxygen therapy, wound care and many others. For pediatric clients, nurses should be knowledgeable of the stages of development and proper psychosocial care of age group they are caring for. Familiarity with long term pediatric chronic health conditions such as traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, and prematurity is important as well. Because they are very independent, the private duty nurse should feel comfortable working alone without any direct supervision. Even if employed through an agency, the nurse still needs to know what to do in case of an emergency, or for any situations where it is not possible for another nurse to be there quickly. Interpersonal skills are vital; having an empathetic, professional and friendly personality without crossing personal boundaries is important.

    Duties / Responsibilities

    Nurses caring for clients are responsible for:
    • Assessment of the patient
    • Frequent documentation on the patient's condition
    • Communication and education with patient and their family
    • Monitoring equipment such as ventilators, infusion pumps, etc.
    • Calls to physicians as needed
    • Medication administration
    • Nebulized therapy and maintenance of oxygen therapy
    • Dressing changes
    • Vital sign monitoring
    • Managing patient supplies
    • Safety monitoring
    • Assisting with activities of daily living

    Job Outlook

    There has been growth in the pediatric area of private duty nursing. This age group are surviving longer with the advances in technology now but are more medically complex, thus accounting for the job growth. There are still opportunities for adult private duty care though but may not be as abundant as pediatric cases.


    Private Duty Homecare Association

    National Association for Homecare and Hospice

    Home Care Association of America
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 11, '15
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