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Home Health Nurse

Job Duties

Home health nurses may provide medical and health services to patients at their places of residence. They may work with both patients and their families, assessing the home environment and determining the needs of patients. They may work with many different types of patients, such as people recovering from accidents, child birth, or cancer. They are sometimes responsible for supervising home health aides. After traveling to the patient's home, home health nurses administer medications, monitor patients, and instruct patients on appropriate home care. They may teach, counsel, and demonstrate skills to both patients and their families. They serve as liaisons between patients and other health care workers, such as physicians and hospital staff. Care may be episodic or continuous, and it may involve focus on the psychological well-being of the patient.

Job Skills

Home health nurses may need to have well-developed communication skills, and the ability to observe accurately and make decisions accordingly. They need to be able to honor the wishes of their patients. They must be willing to work with a team, as well as supervise others. Due to the intense nature of the work, home health nurses should be emotionally stable and have a sympathetic disposition.

Training and Education

Home health nurses may become certified by the National Association for Home Care. They must also become registered nurses (RNs) by pursuing their nursing license. In order to obtain a nursing license, which is required by all 50 States and the District of Columbia, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination. Candidates have three different options for educational paths leading to certification as a registered nurse. The first option is obtaining a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN). BSN programs are offered through colleges and universities and take 4 years to complete,. The second option is an associate degree in nursing (ADN), offered through junior and community colleges, which takes 2 to 3 years to complete. The third option is a 3-year diploma program administered by hospitals. All three types of programs may qualify students to be hired as a registered nurse, but BSNs provide graduates with the most opportunity for advancement within the nursing profession. In fact many nurses certified through ADN or diploma programs go on to enter bachelor's programs. Click here to see a list of Nursing Schools, and/or to contact their admissions departments for more information.

Job Outlook

Home health nurses is expected to increase faster than the average. Due to the rapidly aging population, which needs the services of home health nurses the most, and advances in technology, which allow more complex procedures to be completed in the home, demand for home health nurses is expected to be particularly high. More new RN jobs are expected to be created than any other occupation, mostly because of the need to replace aging registered nurses as they leave the profession. Factors such as the growing elderly population, general growth of healthcare, rising median age of registered nurses, increased emphasis on preventative treatment, technological advances will keep registered nurses, including home health nurses, in high demand.