April 17, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
An AIDS care nurse looks after patients suffering from the different stages of HIV and AIDS. These dedicated nursing professionals are some of the most prominent caregivers in the lives of many AIDS patients. Besides acting as caregivers and administering medications, AIDS care nurses also act as patient advocates and educators and are always there to offer their patients a shoulder to cry on when times get tough.
It takes a special sort of person to become an AIDS care nurse. Along with excellent nursing and communication skills, you should also be genuinely non-judgemental and compassionate. Most importantly, before you consider working in this field, it is vital that you rid yourself of all the myths surrounding AIDS. It is impossible to do your job well if you are harbouring any misconceptions about this disease.
Emotional maturity is also a necessary trait that you must possess if you are looking to become an AIDS care nurse. Although treatment for AIDS has come a long way, there is still no cure for it and most of your patients will die from the disease, many of them in your care. You must have the fortitude to be able to deal with the loss of a patient in a healthy manner. If death is something that bothers you tremendously, this may not be the best choice of career for you.
As an AIDS care nurse, your primary responsibility will be to monitor patients and keep track of any changes in their health. This typically involves performing regular physical examinations and collecting blood samples to be sent for testing. You will also often need to address problems patients have with their medications. This could be by way of offering tips to help manage side effects or by helping patients develop a dosing schedule.
Since this disease compromises a patient’s immune system, they are much more susceptible to contracting other infections. While many of these would not be dangerous to healthy individuals, they can lead to serious complication or even death in an AIDS patient. As an AIDS care nurse, you will have to treat these secondary infections, which could range from meningitis and pneumonia to tuberculosis and even the common cold.
These professionals also act as educators. They are often faced with the task of teaching both patients and their loved ones about the disease and how to keep themselves and others safe. Some AIDS care nurses may even speak out in schools and communities, teaching people exactly what HIV and AIDS are and how to protect themselves.
These nurses work with all kinds of patients irrespective of age, gender, race or class. You could be treating infants who may have had the disease passed on to them from their mothers during childbirth to older accident victims who may have contracted the disease during a blood transfusion.
AIDS care nurses are usually employed by hospitals, clinics and specialists’ offices. These nurses also find employment in community health centres, home care agencies, assisted living facilities and hospice care centres. There are also several organisations that have paid and volunteer openings for those who wish to travel to developing countries, where this virus is much more common.
To become an AIDS care nurse, you will have to become a registered nurse (RN). Taking additional courses in AIDS and HIV while earning your degree can be very helpful if you want to practice in this specialty. While all employers don’t require any formal education in this area, many of them do.
To become a certified professional, at least two years of experience working with AIDS patients is recommended, though it is not always mandatory. After some experience in the field, you would be eligible to sit for the certification examination, which is conducted by the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board.