Is a Career in Home Health Right for You?

01/30/2018

Is a Career in Home Health Right for You?

By Kathy Marshall, Contributor

Deciding what specialty of nursing you wish to pursue can seem overwhelming. One avenue that is not widely discussed is being a home health nurse. Home health nursing has become a vital part of overall medical care. With an aging population and a stronger focus on preventing hospital visits and stays, home health nursing is projected to continue to grow over the next few decades.

Home health nurses enjoy many benefits that other nurses do not get to experience. Independence, ongoing relationship with patients, and flexibility are just a few of those benefits.

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Independence

As a home health nurse, you will be tasked with providing quality care in a variety of circumstances and environments. While you are held to the same standards as any other nurse, you are responsible to make sure things get done. Charting must be especially detailed as you will be the main point of contact for your patient.

Home health nursing allows you to take the lead and truly be the best patient advocate you can be. Unlike nurses whose only interaction with their patients is in a hospital or office setting, you are witness to their living conditions and environment. The independence of home health nurses also equates to a high level of responsibility.

The independence of home health nurses allows them to assess their patients in a manner that cannot be done at an office or a hospital. People are typically more relaxed and forthcoming in familiar settings.

Establishing a Real Relationship

Some nurses thrive in an environment where they have a limited amount of time with the same patient. Others perform better if they can spend in-depth time with them. Home health nursing gives you the unique opportunity to meet your patient right where they are.

As your relationship with the patient and their family grows, you will be better prepared to address any potential concerns with the patient’s medical care or condition.  Patients will learn to trust you when they realize you are acting in their best interest.

When they are being treated in the hospital, patients in at-risk situations can be difficult to spot and possibly be overlooked. Caregivers can paint a very different picture to nurses in a hospital room than to a home health nurse that is present in the patient’s actual living quarters.

Being present with the patient in their day-to-day settings provides home health nurses with a greater insight into their overall needs. Lack of financial support that affects basics such as food, utilities, and medications can be addressed by connecting the patient with appropriate services, too.

Flexibility

If the thought of reporting to the same office or hospital day-after-day bores you, home health nursing may be just right for you. You are guaranteed to assess new patients in a different environment.

As a home health nurse, your schedule will be subject to change. And just like most hospital nursing positions, you probably will have on-call shifts. During these times you may have to respond to a patient’s residence after-hours. But while those instances will be few, having a flexible attitude will help you achieve a balance between work and play. 

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