What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

Home health nurse at IntelyCare

If you’re interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN), but you don’t want to work in a hospital, home health nursing could be right for you. Unlike other RNs, home health nurses work directly in patient homes, providing an extra level of care to patients with certain health issues.

Home health nurses are specially trained to provide care outside of traditional healthcare settings. Many of these professionals 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 are the typical responsibilities of a home health nurse?

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.

There are some general responsibilities you’ll take charge of. You’ll need to examine patients, track their progress through recovery, and administer certain treatments. Most home health nurses know how to collect blood samples, monitor vital signs, and respond to emergencies. Home health nurses are also important patient teachers, helping those in their care know more about their diagnosis and treatment plans.

How can you become a home health nurse?

To become a home health nurse, you’ll need to get an advanced degree – either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). In general, ADN programs take two years to complete. BSN programs, on the other hand, take about four years.

After receiving your degree, you’ll need to 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.

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, prospective employers may require experience in highly specialized environments, such as critical care nursing.

What are the benefits of working as a home health nurse?

Flexibility

Since home health nurses see patients in their homes, they can usually make their 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 jobs give RNs the ability to practice at the top of their license, using all their clinical skills to provide top-notch care.

Stronger relationships

Unlike other nursing specialties, home health nurses have more opportunity to develop strong relationships with their patients. These relationships may last for years, providing a rewarding experience for both you and your patient.

What is the average pay for a home health nurse?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses working as home health nurses earn an average of $77,600 every year. That’s about $37.31 per hour. Plus, the job outlook for home health nurses is expected to rise by 9% through the year 2030.

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.

Advice on becoming a home health nurse

Strong time management skills, coupled with the ability to think critically and solve problems can help you succeed as a home health nurse. It’s important to remember that, to keep your RN license, you’ll need to meet continuing education requirements on a regular basis. Home health nursing can be exceptionally rewarding—but it also requires a certain level of proficiency and nursing expertise.  

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