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What do Hospice Nurses Do?

Hospice nurses work with terminally ill or dying patients to help ensure their comfort and quality of life in their remaining days, rather than working to cure or fix a patient. The hospice nurse typically works in one of two places, a hospice facility, where patients come to live their final days in comfort, or in a person’s home who is terminally ill or whose life expectancy is less than a year. Hospice care is designed to help patients who no longer respond or want medical treatment to live out their final days in comfrt, and prepare themselves and their families for their death.

Hospice nurses are typically LPN/LVN s and work as part of a team to provide care, monitor health conditions, use medical equipment and advise patients and their families on current prognosis.

Hospice nurses are caring and kind, but the nature of the work takes a special person, who understands that their patients will eventually die, and their job is to help them celebrate what life they have left.

Job Skills and Requirements

  • Critical-thinking skills: Hospice nurses will need to assess a patient’s situation, as well as detect changes in symptoms, health or pain, and will need to know when action is necessary.
  • Compassion: Hospice nurses help people at the end of their lives. They need to be sympathetic to the patient’s needs, and be able to deal with people in various states of pain, trauma and tragedy.
  • Attention to Detail: Hospice LPN/LVNs can help doctors administer medications, monitor vital signs and subtle changes in the patient’s health.
  • Organizational skills: The Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse may face patients with very different needs, stages of health and risks. Being organized and knowing how to prioritize will be helpful.
  • Calm Under Pressure: The LPN/LVN in the hospice setting may face emergency situations and must be able to function in the heat of the emergency.
  • Patience: Giving care under stressful circumstances requires patience.
  • Communication skills: The Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse will have a close relationship with patients who may be scared, in pain or still coming to terms with dying. Families will have questions and want answers. The nurses will need to be a patient listener and good communicator to help keep everyone calm and help them understand the situation.

With aging baby boomers and more medical advancements, all nursing jobs, including hospice jobs, will grow steadily through 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are expected to grow as much as 26% in that period, much faster than average

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