November 17, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Home healthcare may seem like a slower-paced and less stressful alternative to many of the other nursing paths. In addition, the flexibility and independence of this specialty only adds to its appeal. While this may sound like a career choice that is suitable for everybody, there are certain aspects of this specialty that makes it not a good fit for all. If you are considering a career in home healthcare, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine whether or not you’d be happy and successful in the field.
Most people love the idea of being able to work independently but are you really up to it? Working in healthcare is a huge responsibility and in home healthcare that responsibility is magnified. You are completely responsible for the patient 24/7 and you will not have anyone to help you. You have to make decisions that directly affect your patients and a mistake can often have serious and even fatal consequences. Are you confident enough to be able to shoulder such enormous responsibility? If you feel you need a lot of supervision you may not do so well in this field and may be more comfortable working in a different setting such as a hospital.
People skills are very important in this line of work. Unlike a hospital, where you may be able to take on roles that require minimal patient contact, in home healthcare your job will depend on how much your patient likes you. You have to be able to communicate well with the patient, interact with the rest of the family and generally become a part of the patient’s life.
A lot of nurses do not realize how good their clinical skills are until they have to work alone. In a hospital, there is a lot of support staff to help with major work. However, as a home healthcare nurse you will need to have an immense amount of experience and skill in order to be able to handle multiple jobs while taking care of one patient. Not only do you have to be skilled in general first aid and emergency techniques but you also need to have specific knowledge about any illness that the patient is suffering from. Most importantly, you should be able to stay calm and tend to emergencies alone before professional medical help can arrive.
A nurse who works alone should be able to take the initiative and be proactive when it comes to a patient. Remember that there is no management and no doctor who will give instructions or ideas in this case. The nurse is completely responsible for choosing the best course of medication and helping the patient as much as possible.
If you are considering getting into this field but are not sure if it the right choice, the best way to find out would be to try it out. Offer to fill in for another home healthcare nurse the next time they need to take a few days off. Doing a trial stint will help you figure out whether this career is right for you instead of jumping into it headfirst.