While many nurses choose to work in hospitals, it is just one of the many places they can pursue their careers. They could also choose to work from home, or rather, their patients’ homes. A home health nurse is a certified nurse who provides one-on-one care to patients. They usually have a facility in which they receive their assignment and drive to the patient’s home to administer care.
Home health nurses have many of the same responsibilities as a nurse working in a regular medical facility. They can administer medication to patients, assist with daily activities, measure vital signs and monitor changes to their patients. Home health nurses can take care of elderly patients with long-term illnesses, but they can also help individuals who are recovering from an accident or surgery.
If you are someone who likes to be on the move and would like to work in a more non-traditional clinical setting, home healthcare nursing could be for you! Here are three steps to take if you’re interested in becoming a home healthcare nurse:
1. Get your nursing degree
Before you decide to become a home health nurse, you will need to get your nursing degree.
Every employer will have their own unique requirements for prior education and experience. Nurses with a diploma in practical nursing, associate degree in nursing, or bachelor’s degree in nursing can potentially qualify for these types of jobs.
While your degree might not influence your ability to work as a home health nurse, your nursing responsibilities will vary according to your degree level. With your ASN or BSN as a registered nurse (RN), you will be able to have greater autonomy as a nurse and provide a wider range of care for your patients. With your diploma, you can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs are skilled in task-based nursing care, which comprises a large portion of home healthcare.
Home health nurses also have the option to specialize in certain fields, including:
- Mental health
- Community/public health
Before you determine which degree you want to pursue, you should explore the educational and specialty requirements for where you would like to apply.
2. Become licensed
After getting your degree, you’ll have to take the National Council Licensure Exam either for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) or Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). You will need to pass the NCLEX in order to become licensed to work as a nurse.
All other requirements vary from state to state and are dependent upon your specialty, so be sure to research your state’s home healthcare licensing requirements.
3. Gain experience
Some employers will also require you to have work experience before they will hire you to work as a home health nurse.
If you have prior work experience in a hospital, nursing home, or clinic, it can help you stand out as a candidate for a home health nurse.
While not always required, working as a nurse elsewhere before becoming a home health nurse can help you gain valuable insight and skills that you can later use in your career.
Is home health nursing a good career?
Home Healthcare News reports that there will be about 1 million home healthcare jobs created by 2028, mainly because of the growth in the aging baby-boomer population. This seems to be a trend throughout the industry as RNs are expected to see a 6% increase between 2022-2032 according to the BLS.*
Some benefits of working as a home health nurse include:
- Flexibility and variety: As a home health nurse, you may have more flexibility than a nurse working in a hospital. Some agencies also allow you to pick your hours. You’re not just assisting in patient care, you might also train new employees or help with home health aide classes.
- Independence: If you’re a person who likes to work independently then you would enjoy being a home health nurse. Although you’re interacting with your patients, you are responsible for your own time and your patients.
- Personal relationships: Working as a home health nurse, you get to work with some of the same patients regularly, which means you can get to know them on a more personal level. You also have the opportunity to see them progress and serve as their support system through every aspect of their recovery or illness.
ADN nurses: take the next step
Advancing your education is key to discovering the career path of your choosing.
You can go from RN to BSN online in as little as 1 year and potentially open many doors to future career possibilities, including potential new specialty pathways of your choosing.