The truth about working in hospice care

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Nothing is more satisfying that the feeling of doing good to others.

Working in the nursing field is both rewarding and challenging, and never was this truer than for those who work as hospice nurses.

People who pursue this career often see it as a calling, a job they're drawn to. They consider it a privilege to help their patients and the patients' families learn about and handle the end of life process.

You may not think a job in hospice care is for you, but there are quite a few reasons hospice nurses love what they do. Shannon Cooper, Director/Inpatient Units at Treasure Coast Hospice says, "working here allows me the opportunity to do work that's meaningful, that's joyful, and that gives me purpose."

They make a difference

There's nothing more satisfying than the feeling of doing good to others. As hospice nurses, every action is designed to serve patients and their family members. They help patients remain as pain-free and independent as possible during the time they have left.

"Typically, hospice patients are expected to live six months or less," according to Registered Nursing.

Because loved ones are aware the patient's life is coming to an end, there can be less fear and more acceptance and peace. Rather than trying to heal a wound or treat an injury, hospice nurses do as much to emotionally support patients as they do to physically support them.

Additionally, hospice nurses have a positive impact beyond a patient's personal comfort, according to research in the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. When a hospice nurse is involved, there are fewer adverse events in patient care, higher levels of patient satisfaction, more effective communication with other healthcare providers and increased personal growth and professional satisfaction for the nurse.

They become part of a family

Many patients and their families develop close relationships with their hospice nurses.

"The care team is more like an extended family than a medical staff," Treasure Coast Hospice says. "They bring skill and sensitivity in meeting physical, spiritual and emotional needs of patients, and they include the whole family in their compassionate support."

Registered nurse Connie O'Malley worked as a hospice nurse for more than two decades and said the greatest reward was watching a family change and grow as they came to understand what happens at the end of life, according to Minority Nurse. She came to love her patients, a privilege many nurses don't get to experience when they work with patients on a less intimate level and for less time.

They work in many locations

Different from many other jobs in the nursing field, most hospice nurses do not work in large healthcare facilities, though some of them might. Instead, for the most part, hospice nurses provide care to patients in their homes, where the patients feel most comfortable.

There's a job for every education level

A high school diploma or GED certificate is enough for a position in hospice nursing, and further education can lead to other positions, according to Registered Nursing. These include positions as a certified hospice and palliative nursing assistant, a certified hospice and palliative licensed nurse or RN, and an advanced certified hospice and palliative nurse.

Because of the growing number of elderly people, the hospice field is expected to continue growing, offering job security in a fulfilling career.

For more information about what hospice nurses do or to apply for a hospice care position, see the job openings at Treasure Coast Hospice.