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Young Hospice Nurses

Hospice   (6,995 Views | 15 Replies)

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Hello Hospice nursing forum! I am a young nursing student, age 21, who will be graduating as an RN in 2010. I am in my first year of nursing school. Two years prior to nursing school I worked as a CNA in a LTC facility and observed the hospice nurses doing their work. I notice that there were no young, or for that matter, male, hospice nurses. Now, as a CNA I have certainly dealt with many of the hospice situations, being involved in the direct care of the residents. I am not 100% sure but I think I would really like being a hospice nurse. Is it feasible to be a young (22-25) hospice nurse? Is there any out there that could share how they got in their current position? Besides the obvious "lack of life experience" retort as the reason for few young hospice nurses, is there any other reasons? Glass ceilings or discrimination that I am missing? Or just a general lack of interest among young nurses...

Thanks!

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GrumpyRN63 is a ADN, RN and specializes in Gyn Onc, OB, L&D, HH/Hospice/Palliative.

833 Posts; 9,184 Profile Views

It's an interesting question. I don't think nurses start out in Hospice as a general observation; oncology yes, but I would be interested in hearing if it is possible. I think nurses generally work in oncology and then go on to hospice from that point. I know from Home Hospice you do need a good amount of acute care experience to be able to work independently out in the field. Inpatient Hospice, I have no idea.

I can say, my partner is male, and is young (in my book--30 ). I'm interested in hearing other responses. In any event, go for it, I don't think there are any hard and fast rules as far as gettin in to Hospice--Good Luck !!!

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marachne specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care, Gero, dementia.

349 Posts; 8,905 Profile Views

I certainly know a number of male hospice nurses. At the risk of sounding sexist, from what I have noticed a lot of men who go into nursing want to do the high tech/high risk kind of nursing like ER or ICU -- not all, but it seems to be a very common interest area.

To do hospice you have to be not only able, but enjoy working with families as well as patients, comfortable with not being "in charge" but allowing the pt/family to direct the focus of care, and be able to think fairly creatively.

I won't say that age is a controlling factor, but a certain level of maturity (and comfort with ambiguity) is. Also, you don't have to come from an oncology background -- only about 50% of all hospice cases have cancer as their primary dx any more.

I know some agencies will accept new grads, but in such a case I would want to know, very explicitly what their training/orientation and support is like.

As was mentioned elsewhere, if you really are interested in hospice, it's a good idea to shadow a hospice nurse -- preferably for more than one day -- to get a better sense of what the work is like and if it really suits one's temperament.

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1 Post; 620 Profile Views

I am a young hospice nurse at 30 yo (I get mistaken for perhaps 25).

But more specifically, I started in hospice within one week of graduating from RN school.

When I interviewed for my current job, I did not avoid the topic of me being a new nurse. I faced it head on, even asked the director if he was sure he could support the needs of a new grad. He stated to me that there are some things that a nurse has or doesn't have that make them a good hospice nurse, and the rest can be taught. He promised an abundance of support from the team. And after 6 months of being there, I agree with him. The hospice philosophy is steeped in the team approach, so you are never alone.

What made me qualified for this job as a new nurse, despite my clear lack of acute care, oncology or med-surg experience? Well, I had also worked as a massage therapist for 9 years, even owned my own business during that time. I had provided massage therapy to the staff of another hospice for two years. I had travelled to foreign countries to provide wellness care to indigent elders. And, I do have a certain maturity that helps me be able to do this work. I have strong communication skills, creativity, deep compassion with healthy boundaries.

There is another nurse in my company who is only 23 years old. She is the kind of person who remembers each detail from her text books, and knows the rules, regs, policies and procedures by heart. (I am AWFUL at all of those things) And she is a compassionate person.

Bottom line...Some companies won't look at you for your lack of experience. It's illegal to judge you for your age, though. If you do get interviews, don't side step the part about being a new nurse. But be sure to show them what you do bring to the company despite your lack of experience.

Good luck!

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40 Posts; 1,868 Profile Views

Thanks for the responses so far! They have given me a clearer picture of the situation. I probably would not go right into hospice as a new grad, but i was thinking after a year or two after school.

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finn11707 specializes in ICU,HOME HEALTH, HOSPICE, HEALTH ED.

141 Posts; 2,764 Profile Views

I have worked with one very well-received male hospice RN. When I began 7 years ago at this hospice, there were two hospice nurses in their mid 20's working our agency. Both have moved on--one away from hospice work and the other, I believe is working with another hospice in another state. Honestly, I believe young nurses bring great energy to the work. It is a good idea to have some experience in general nursing (at least) under your belt. Good luck

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AniRN specializes in LTC, sub-acute care, Hospice.

13 Posts; 1,620 Profile Views

I am a 23 year old Hospice nurse, and have been one since I was 22. My boss hired me because she knew me from a previous job at a LTC center and knew my skills were up to par. I think that being young brings a new aspect to hospice care, since I don't have the "life experience" all the older people refer to, I can use my knowledge in a different way. It is true, most hospice nurses are white, female and over 40, which is great, but it doesn't bring much diversity to the hospice experience. We recently hired 2 male nurses who the families absolutely love!

I love working for Hospice. I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I am able to be independent and make judgement calls and decisions on my own, but I know that due to the team aspect of Hospice, that there is always someone I can ask if I have a question. I know that for me it is really important that I can be autonomous and work by myself. For some people this isn't such a good thing.

I would say go for it! Since you have LTC experience, you might just find someone that will hire you as a new grad. It is definitely a passion, and something only a few of us can do.

Good Luck!

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Melinurse specializes in LTC, case mgmt, agency.

2,040 Posts; 9,332 Profile Views

I am a young hospice nurse at 30 yo (I get mistaken for perhaps 25).

But more specifically, I started in hospice within one week of graduating from RN school.

When I interviewed for my current job, I did not avoid the topic of me being a new nurse. I faced it head on, even asked the director if he was sure he could support the needs of a new grad. He stated to me that there are some things that a nurse has or doesn't have that make them a good hospice nurse, and the rest can be taught. He promised an abundance of support from the team. And after 6 months of being there, I agree with him. The hospice philosophy is steeped in the team approach, so you are never alone.

What made me qualified for this job as a new nurse, despite my clear lack of acute care, oncology or med-surg experience? Well, I had also worked as a massage therapist for 9 years, even owned my own business during that time. I had provided massage therapy to the staff of another hospice for two years. I had travelled to foreign countries to provide wellness care to indigent elders. And, I do have a certain maturity that helps me be able to do this work. I have strong communication skills, creativity, deep compassion with healthy boundaries.

There is another nurse in my company who is only 23 years old. She is the kind of person who remembers each detail from her text books, and knows the rules, regs, policies and procedures by heart. (I am AWFUL at all of those things) And she is a compassionate person.

Bottom line...Some companies won't look at you for your lack of experience. It's illegal to judge you for your age, though. If you do get interviews, don't side step the part about being a new nurse. But be sure to show them what you do bring to the company despite your lack of experience.

Good luck!

As a home care & hospice case manager, I agree with the above post. I am a new RN grad and knew I did not want to do hospital nursing. I wanted something where I could spend more time with my patients and feel rewarded. If it is your passion to work hospice then go for it. If you are not sure what direction you want your nursing career to go then work med-surg for a while to give yourself a better idea. Good luck.

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932 Posts; 11,136 Profile Views

We have some male nurses and age is only a factor as far as it correlates to limited life and professional experience. Each person must be judged on their own merits. Some people have more experience and maturity at 20 than some ever achieve in a lifetime. But the tendency is that the younger nurses haven't had the experiences that bring them to a place where they can deal with the breadth of situations that they encounter and to know that this work is something they really want to stick with. Energy, passion, and a willingness to learn go a long way though.

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161 Posts; 3,357 Profile Views

I pick up shifts in hospice and I"m young (23). LOL most think I'm a PCT but oh well lol it doesn't hurt my feelings. I think as a whole there is a lack of interest in hospice nursing amongst young nurses. But you also need the experience behind you to work there. Autonomy is huge in hospice... something most newer nurses aren't comfortable with nor have the skill. I admit I'm still learning every day I go I learn something totally different....

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6 Posts; 937 Profile Views

One thing to consider about hospice is how it can affect your personal life. Your social circle can get very small. Let's face it, no one(outside of nursing or hospice) wants to talk about death. I joke that it's like working for the IRS...at parties people run the other way. As a younger person, I think it's important to develop connections and experiences for your own personal growth not necessarily for professional growth. Hospice is absolutely the best for all the reason already stated. I'm committed to it until I can no longer see or drive but I don't think I would have lasted if I had started out at a younger age.(I started at 39 and have been working for 10 years in hospice.) Good Luck!!!

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NurseAlwaysNForever has 3 years experience and specializes in Hospice, LTC.

13 Articles; 129 Posts; 7,476 Profile Views

I have been a hospice nurse since I was 25. I had only been a nurse a little over a year. I have been in hospice now for over two years and don't want to ever do anything else. I don't think the age or experience is what really matters. I think it is the passion. You either have it or you don't and to be good at hospice, you have to have it.

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