A hospice nurse provides care to terminally ill cancer patients at the end of their lives. The main objective of a hospice nurse is to help patients live as comfortably and independently as possible. Hospice nurses provide emotional support and help patients and their families feel more comfortable about death.
A hospice nurse provides palliative care, which means the nurse helps patients live with as little pain and suffering as possible during the final days of life. According to its guidelines for benefits, Medicare loosely defines hospice care as occurring in the last six months of a patient’s life.
Hospice nurses may provide this care in a variety of settings, including private homes, personal care homes, skilled nursing facilities, correctional facilities, group homes or hospice-run residential facilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide information specific to the field of hospice nurses but the website does offer an overview of registered nurses that may provide hospice care.
Nurse Salary and Employment Data
Quickly compare salary and job statistics in your area
Source: BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation. * or ** indicate insignificant or unavailable data.
|Level of Education Required||Associate degree or Bachelor Degree in Nursing|
|Board Examinations needed||NCLEX-RN, RN-BC|
|# of Jobs (2012)||2,712,000|
|Job Outlook (2012 to 2022)||19% growth|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov
Salary information courtesy of Healthcare Salaries http://www.healthcare-salaries.com/nursing/hospice-nurse-salary
How to become a hospice nurse
Anyone hoping to become a hospice nurse:
- Must have an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and have passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- May pursue additional education in hospice care and cancer care
To become a hospice nurse, the candidate must get an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The nurse must then work for two years in a hospice-related field.
Hospice nurses provide palliative care, meaning the treatment hospice nurses provide focuses on making the patient comfortable rather than working to cure the patient. A hospice nurse can provide this care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes or in patient homes. The hospice nurse works as part of a healthcare team that provides care to the patient, monitors health conditions, administers medication, uses medical equipment and provides advice about the patient’s prognosis. Hospice nurses provide comfort and care to dying patients and their families.
- Possess critical thinking skills
- Highly organized
- Calm under pressure
- Good communication skills
Hospice nurses report to the patient’s physician or a hospital or agency nursing supervisor.
Typical workplaces for a hospice nurse include:
- Private homes
- Personal care homes
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Correctional facilities
- Group homes
- Hospice-run residential facilities
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not produce employment statistics for hospice nurses, it does project a 19 percent increase in RN jobs between 2012 and 2022.
Healthcare Salaries says that the average yearly wage for hospice nurses is $59,414. Salaries vary by state, with Illinois hospice nurses earning around $50, 684 per year and Georgia hospice nurses earning $46,890 annually.
The Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center offers seven certifications:
- Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse
- Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse
- Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse
- Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse
- Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant
- Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator
- Certified in Perinatal Loss Care
Each has its own eligibility standards.
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association: http://advancingexpertcare.org/
National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization: http://www.nhpco.org/