Home health nursing plays an important role in the healthcare field. This form of nursing offers a high level of independence and dignity to patients and their family members. Over 7 million people in the U.S. require the services of a home health nurse due to a permanent disability, acute illness, terminal illness, or long-term health issue. This area of nursing is among the fastest growing of all nursing areas. The skills of a home health nurse make the needs of patients and family members a huge priority.
Home Health Nurse Job Description
A home health nurse can work with patient of any age group. They provide patient education, treatment, and emotional support to help these individuals recover from injuries and illnesses. The nurse requires a high level of skill to work in someone’s home.
It requires excellent rapport, understanding, and communication with the patients and their family members. A home health nurse does not work with a team as a part of his or her daily duties but rather as an individual working with the family as a team.
A home health nurse is also responsible for coordinating with doctors and other healthcare professionals in regards to their home health patients. They coordinate patient medications between the pharmacists and doctor to ensure that patients properly manage precise dosages.
A home health nurse must give the exact dosage at the specified time as the doctors and pharmacists prescribe. They must also assess the patient’s needs and keep proper documentation of patient care.
Home Health Nurse Job Certification
Nurses must first earn a minimum of an associate’s degree in nursing before qualifying for certification. Some home health nurses choose to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing to pursue positions providing in home care. The programs can last from 2 to 4 years unless students choose a program that offers accelerated or advanced courses in nursing.
Students can expect to take courses in liberal arts and behavioral sciences that may include Chemistry, Anatomy, Psychology, Microbiology, and Physiology.
Home health nurses can gain certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Nurses Association (ANA). There are many other certifying bodies that nurses can choose from to gain their credentials. It is always a good idea to gain certification to earn additional credentials that increase job marketability.
Possible areas of certification that nurses choose to purse include Life Care Planning and Geriatric Care. Students should contact the schools prior to enrolling to determine the possible certifying bodies that are available and the certification areas in which they offer.
Home Health Nurse Salary
As with most areas of nursing, home health nurses can receive a promising nursing salary for the services that they provide their patients. The average annual salary for a home health nurse is $49,000. Considering the minimum education requirement to become a home health nurse is an associate’s degree in nursing, this is a pretty substantial salary.
Many home health nurses earn an ever higher wages by working in hospitals and in the homes of patients. Some may even provide home nursing care as independent individuals and not work for a particular hospital or organization.
Home health nurses have more freedom than other nursing professionals do. They have the freedom to set their own hours since they work directly with patients and their families. Independent home health nursing professionals can even set their own wages for their services. It is possible to be the boss and make a great deal of decisions about the patient’s care based on the needs of the patient.
Home Health Nursing Jobs Outlook
Home health nurses have a very bright future ahead. The Department of Labor notes a shortage of approximately 2.4 million nurses in the United States. The shortage is currently in excess of 10% with the numbers continuing to rise.
Home health nursing professionals can work in teaching, consulting, and research nurse positions with advanced degrees. It is possible to become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetists to earn higher wages as a home health nurse.
Participating in continuing education hours and recertifying in specialized areas of home health nursing provides the greatest amount of promise to home health nurses. There are millions of needy patients that require the services of home health nurses; it is likely that home health nurses will not have to worry about employment issues.
There are many opportunities ahead for home health nursing professionals due to medical technology, increased morbidity, and aging baby boomers. The job of a home health nurse comes with many challenges, but it is extremely rewarding. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the job is the rewarding relationships with patients and the independence that the job offers.