What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

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Written by Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN Freelance Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Ann Real, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Nurse in scrubs taking blood pressure of a senior woman in her home.

If you’re interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN), but you don’t want to work in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, home health nursing could be right for you. This career path is poised for growth thanks to the fact that by 2030, the entire generation of baby boomers — 61 million people — will be aged 66 to 84. And all those people will require high-quality healthcare services.

Unlike other RNs, home health nurses work directly in patient homes, providing an extra level of care to patients with certain health issues. Exactly what does a home health nurse do? Let’s find out.

What Is a Home Health Nurse?

A home health care nurse is an RN who is specially trained to provide care outside of traditional healthcare settings. Many home health nurses work with elderly or disabled patients. Others see patients who have been recently discharged from a hospital and may need help when they go home.

What Does a Home Health Care Nurse Do for Patients?

Home health nurses help patients with a variety of diagnoses. For example, you may provide palliative care to a person undergoing cancer treatment, or you may help a recently discharged patient care for a wound. It really all depends on the particular needs of each individual patient. Take a look at home health nurse duties that an employer might list in a job posting.

What Does a Home Health Nurse Do on Their Visits?

While all patients’ needs are different, there are some general home health nurse responsibilities you’ll take charge of. Your duties may include:

What does a home health care nurse do for patients beyond direct caregiving? Good question. Home health nurses are also important teachers, helping a patient in their care (and a patient’s family and friends) know more about their diagnosis and treatment plans.

How to Become a Home Health Care Nurse

Home health nursing can be exceptionally rewarding, but it also requires a certain level of proficiency and nursing expertise. There are a few home health nurse requirements you must meet before you are able to work in this position.

1. Get a nursing degree, either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). What’s the difference between ADN vs. BSN? In general, ADN programs take two years to complete. BSN programs, on the other hand, take about four years and tend to be preferred by employers.

2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN). This examination usually takes several hours and covers many topics in nursing, such as nursing practice, medicine, and the legal aspects of nursing. Learn more about the latest NCLEX exam.

3. Gain experience. Many healthcare organizations prefer that home health nurses work several years in a hospital setting before taking care of patients in their homes. In some cases, a home health nurse agency may require its nurses to have experience in highly specialized environments, such as critical care.

While you’re on the path to becoming a nurse, you might want to consider a career as a home care aide. This option allows you to gain experience in the field and develop essential clinical skills as you work towards your nursing degree.

How Much Do Home Health Nurses Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a home health nurse salary is $82,920 per year on average, compared to the national average RN salary, which is $89,010 per year. Home health nurses are often paid on salary. However, others are paid for the number of patient visits they complete each day. How you’ll get paid depends on your employer. For a better idea of what you might earn in your area, check out the current home health nurse jobs available right now.

Benefits of Working in Home Health Nursing

Flexibility

Since a home health care nurse sees patients in the patients’ homes, the nurse can usually make his or her own schedules. You won’t be committed to shift work like you would be in a hospital setting.

Independence

Home health nurses must be comfortable practicing without any supervision or backup. These careers give RNs the ability to practice at the top of their license, using all their clinical skills to provide top-notch care.

Strong Relationships

Home health nursing often offers greater opportunity to develop strong relationships with your patients. These relationships may last for years, providing a rewarding experience for both you and your patient.

Wish You Had More Career Options?

The short answer to “What does a home health nurse do?” is “a lot.” Are you looking for work opportunities that let you deliver high-quality care? Find out how IntelyCare can help you find the right nursing jobs for your skills and interests.