Hospice nurses are health care professionals who are trained to care for terminally ill patients. These nurses work with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals to ensure the patient's quality of life, and to make their last days as easy, painless, and comfortable as possible. They offer patients physical, emotional, and psychological support, and provide individualized care based on each patient's unique needs. The term "hospice nurse" is often used as an all-encompassing term for a variety of different professionals in the nursing field. However, when someone refers to themselves as a hospice nurse, they more than likely work under one following credentials: Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA), Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPLN), Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN), or an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (ACHPN).
Some tasks and duties that are commonly carried out by hospice nurses include the following:
Hospice nurses are typically employed wherever end-of-life care is needed. Common workplaces include:
How a person becomes a hospice nurse will depend on a few factors. For example, if one wishes to become a hospice nurse assistant (CHPNA), he or she will only need to finish high school/acquire a GED, gain a number of hours of experience in a hospice setting as a nursing assistant, and pass the standardized certification exam. The path that one must take to become a licensed hospice nurse (CHPLN) is slightly different. At the least, CHPLN candidates will need to complete a state-approved licensed vocational/practical nursing training program, acquire an LVN/LPN license, and gain at least two years of experience before they are eligible for the hospice credential. Becoming a registered hospice nurse (CHP) or an advanced hospice nurse (ACHPN) takes more time than the previous two credentials, requiring a nursing degree and RN license. Lastly, prospective advanced hospice nurses will need to do everything that's required to become a registered hospice nurse, plus they'll need to earn a graduate degree in nursing, become a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, and gain some experience in the field before they're eligible for the advanced hospice practice credential.
To become a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA), the following educational requirements must be met:
To become a Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPLN), the following educational requirements must be met:
To become a Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPN), the following educational requirements must be met
To become an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (ACHPN), the following educational requirements must be met:
Not necessarily. Whether or not a hospice nurse will need to hold an RN license will depend on which certification they choose to pursue.
The various hospice certifications that are available can be acquired through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC).
Certified Hospice and Palliative Nursing Assistant (CHPNA)
Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPLN)
Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPN)
Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (ACHPN):
Because hospice nurses work with patients who are going through perhaps the most vulnerable period of their lives, the career can be incredibly emotionally rewarding and taxing at the same time. As baby boomers continue to age and their healthcare needs grow, the demand for hospice nurses is also expected to grow.
According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for a hospice nurse is about $64,696. How much money a hospice nurse makes will depend on factors like the geographical location of their employment, which educational credentials and certifications they have, how much overtime they work, who they're employed by, and how much experience they have. The kind of employee benefits that a hospice nurse receives will also depend on the factors mentioned above, but typically includes medical insurance, paid time off, and more.