A Guide to Private Duty Nursing: FAQ

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Written by Ayana Dunn, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
A nurse smiles at a patient during their private duty nursing shift.

If you value deep connections with your patients and are willing to live in their homes, then private duty nursing (PDN) could be a great career path for you. Below, we describe what private duty nursing is, outline some of its unique characteristics, and answer other commonly asked questions.

What Is a Private Duty Nurse?

A private duty nurse is a nurse who is responsible for the home health care of a single patient who may be medically fragile or have a complex medical condition. The PDN’s services are dedicated to that patient alone, and their duties are outlined in contracts unique to the situation. Some contracts last for the duration of an illness while others can be indefinite.

What Does a Private Duty Nurse Do?

A PDN’s expected tasks may include providing personalized care that’s unique to each patient’s specific needs. Overall, here are some common responsibilities:

  • Monitoring patients
  • Assisting with daily living activities
  • Wound care
  • Educating patients and families
  • Documentation
  • Utilizing in-home equipment, such as tracheostomies and feeding tubes
  • Medication administration
  • Range of motion exercises
  • Recognizing early warning signs of health issues
  • Creating and implementing care and recovery plans

What Is the Difference Between Private Duty Nursing and Home Health Care?

Some people prefer to receive care in the comfort in their own home, so private duty nurses sometimes live with the patients and families. These PDNs are responsible for providing continuous skilled nursing care to the patients.

Home health nurses don’t live with families, but work regular shifts or periodically visit the home to complete specific tasks. Additionally, home health care is typically covered by Medicare, but the services of PDNs are not.

How Do Private Duty Nurses Find Clients?

Some PDNs market themselves by word of mouth or post their services online. Others are matched with clients through PDN agencies that handle the administrative tasks.

How Do You Become a Private Duty Nurse?

In order to work as a PDN, you have to earn your ADN or BSN degree and then pass the NCLEX exam to get your RN license. It’s helpful to gain a few years of bedside experience providing skilled nursing care before becoming a PDN. The amount of necessary experience is based on the clients’ needs and PDN agency requirements.

Keep in mind that PDNs must provide care without backup or supervision. This means that you are responsible for the patient’s care whether it’s a regular day or an emergency situation. It’s important to have bedside experience before becoming a PDN — for the patient’s sake and your own peace of mind.

Is There a Private Duty Nursing Certification?

You can get a Private Duty Home Care Certification through the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. Obtaining a certificate shows your commitment to this field. If you don’t have that specific certification, a certificate in your previous specialty can boost your chances of employment and your patient’s confidence in your abilities.

Do Private Duty Nurses Get Benefits?

No, PDNs don’t typically receive health benefits because most are contracted workers. They’re usually responsible for their own insurance, retirement plans, and must negotiate vacation time with their clients or a family member of their client.

What Is a Typical Schedule for a Private Duty Nurse?

A PDN’s schedule is unique to the contract between themselves and the family. Usually, their shifts are seven days a week, with a maximum of 16 hours per day.

Are Private Duty Nurses Responsible for Anything Outside of Their Clients’ Healthcare Needs?

A PDN’s responsibilities depend on the contract they have with the client or family. Some nurses help pediatric clients with schoolwork or assist the family with household chores. Read contracts closely and advocate for yourself if you feel like you’re being asked to complete a task you didn’t agree to.

How Can Private Duty Nurses Maintain Boundaries?

Since PDNs live with their patients, they often start to feel like a part of the family, and they can sometimes get pulled into performing tasks they didn’t sign up for. It’s especially important for nurses in these situations to calmly and professionally speak up for themselves when they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed. If you were hired through an agency, you also have the option to reach out to them for guidance or request that they address the issue on your behalf.

What Is a Private Duty Nurse Salary?

PDN salaries can fluctuate based on your specialty, years of experience, contract specifications, and cost of living. The average salary for a PDN in the U.S. is $85,790 per year.

Are You Considering Private Duty Nursing?

This rewarding path is one of many ways you can make your nursing career work best for you. If you’re looking for scheduling freedom, consider applying to IntelyCare today to create the flexible schedule you’ve always wanted.