Palliative Care Nurse

What Is a Palliative Care Nurse?

Palliative care nurses, sometimes referred to as hospice nurses, are nursing professionals who provide care for patients who are nearing the end of their lives. Since recovery for the vast majority of patients under the care of these nurses isn't generally feasible, relieving patient and familial suffering via comprehensive appraisals of their spiritual, psychosocial, and physical needs is extremely important for the palliative care nurse, which can be a delicate task. In order to work effectively with patients who are dying, palliative care nurses need to possess an abundance of emotional strength, compassion, and maturity.

What Are Some Palliative Care Nurse Duties?

Common duties that palliative care nurses are tasked with may include:

  • Make home visits to patients who are too sick to make a trip to the hospital
  • Assess and monitor a patient's pain level
  • Dispense medication on schedule
  • Employ different means to reduce patients' pain levels while being mindful not to over-sedate them
  • Educate patients, their loved ones, and caregivers on symptom management
  • Provide physical, psychosocial, and spiritual support
  • Assist terminally ill patients in saying their goodbyes
  • Employ methods to alleviate a variety of symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, etc.
  • Counsel patients on how to effectively deal with end of life emotions
  • Maintain a suitable environment for patients

Where Do Palliative Care Nurses Work?

Palliative care nurses are found wherever there are patients facing terminal illness or injury in the end-stages, to include:

  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Private in-home care
  • Other continuing care settings

How to Become a Palliative Care Nurse

The process of becoming a palliative care nurse starts with earning an RN degree and license. In some cases, those who have completed CNA or LVN/LPN training programs will be accepted as viable candidates to employers. While completing a degree, students should attempt to take courses and gain experience in geriatric care.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become a palliative care nurse, the following educational requirements should be met:

  • Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license

Do Palliative Care Nurses Need an RN Degree?

In most cases, palliative nurses will hold RN licenses. However, depending on the setting and employer, LVNs/LPNs may be acceptable.

Step 2: Required Palliative Care Nurse Certifications/Credentials

There are a number of certifications within the palliative care nursing specialty which are offered through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center. They are as follows:

Palliative Care Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

The healthcare system in the United States is currently going through drastic changes in an attempt to ready itself for the increasing medical demands of the aging baby boomer generation. As more people from this generation continue to reach old age, palliative care nurses will play a significant role in meeting the growing need for palliative healthcare.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Compassion, empathy, the ability to understand physical, and emotional aspects of patient care, strong assessment skills, excellent interpersonal communication skills, leadership, teaching skills, teamwork skills, knowledge of pain management, and the ability to provide stress relief to patients and their families
  • Job Outlook - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of available jobs for RNs is projected to increase by approximately 16% between 2014 and 2024. As the populous baby boomer generation ages and as their need for trained healthcare professionals grows, it's reasonable to assume that the demand for palliative care nurses will also grow.

What Is the Average Salary of a Palliative Care Nurse?

According to, the average annual salary for a palliative care nurse is about $76,500. Important factors that may play a significant role in the earning potential of a palliative care nurse include things like employing organization, geographical location, the amount of nursing experience they have, what their educational background looks like, and more. In addition to receiving a base annual salary, most full-time palliative care nurses can expect to receive employee benefits packages which are likely to include medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage, in addition to paid vacation and sick leave.

How Much Do Palliative Care Nurses Make per Year?

  • $62,000 – $81,000 annually

How Much Do Palliative Care Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $31.03 average hourly wage

Palliative Care Nurse Resources