What is a home health nurse?November 10, 2014
Nurses provide medical care in a variety of settings including a patient’s home. Patients may need home medical care for many different reasons. In some cases, a patient may still require on-going care, but not enough monitoring or treatment to require an inpatient hospital stay. That’s where a home health nurse can come in.
Home health nursing responsibilities
Home health nurses provide medical care and treatment to patients in their home. The type of responsibilities a nurse may have will vary widely. Nurses may meet with patients shortly after they are discharged from the hospital. They may perform an assessment, measure vital signs and make sure the patient understands how to take their medication.
Nurses working in home health may also provide treatment, such as wound care, dressing changes, administer IV medication and change catheters. In addition, home health nurses may assess the patient’s home environment to determine if changes or accommodations are needed due to the patient’s medical needs.
All ages of patients with various types of conditions may require home health nursing. Patients may have chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure or cystic fibrosis, which requires home health care. In other cases, acute illness or injury may create a need for temporary home health nursing.
The path to home health nursing
Graduating from a registered nursing program is the first step in becoming a home health nurse. After earning either an associate or a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you are eligible to take the nursing licensing exam.
After passing the exam and becoming licensed in the state you want to work in, it’s time to gain some experience. Most agencies that hire home health nurses require at least a few years of nursing experience. Nurses should consider gaining experience in medical/surgical nursing, emergency nursing or telemetry. After getting a few years of experience, you are ready to apply for a job in home health.
Strengths needed to work in home health
Nurses who are interested in working in home health are more likely to be successful in the field if they have certain strengths. One of the most important strengths to have is the ability to work well independently. You will be working alone in a patient’s home and need to trust your judgment and clinical skills. Home health nurses also have to have good people skills. Home health nurses should be able to communicate well with all types of people of all ages. They should also be comfortable explaining complex medical information to both patients and their family members.
It is also essential for nurses in home heath to be well organized and have good time management skills. Most home health nurses will have more than one patient to see in a day. In addition to providing patient care, nurses will also have to make time for paperwork and traveling between patient’s homes. Being able to work effectively in a timely manner is an important aspect of the job.