How to Get a Job as a Hospice Nurse

Michele Warg
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As a hospice nurse, you work as a liaison between patients and a hospice physician. In this role, you assess new patients and develop and implement care plans. Although caring for patients during their last moments of life can be challenging, a hospice nurse career is very rewarding. Learn more about what it takes to become a hospice nurse, and decide if this career is right for you.

Most hospice nurse positions require a bachelor of science in nursing. Nursing degree programs include a combination of classroom instruction and supervised instruction in a clinical setting. Some programs also require an internship at a health care facility. There are few specialized hospice nurse degree programs; however, most programs do cover gerontology and hospice care basics. If your goal is to work in hospice care, arrange to have your supervised instruction take place in a hospice care facility so that you gain experience in this field.

A limited number of hospice nurse positions require only the completion of a licensed practical nurse program. A licensed practical nurse program is similar to a bachelor program in that it includes a combination of classroom and clinical instruction. However, the licensed practical nurse program takes approximately two years to complete as opposed to four years for a bachelor's program.

Once you complete the nursing education program, you must take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, before you can begin your hospice nurse career. Additionally, most states have licensing exams that you must complete prior to obtaining a registered nurse certification.

If you choose to complete a licensed practical nurse program, you must take the licensed practical nurse examination. After you complete the NCLEX or licensed practical nurse exam, you can apply for an interim permit. This permit allows you to practice nursing in a limited capacity under the supervision of a licensed nurse while awaiting the results of the exam. It usually takes six to eight weeks to receive test results.

Having experience in the medical field improves your chances of getting a job as a hospice nurse. An excellent way to gain this experience is to work as a nursing assistant while you complete the educational requirements to become a nurse. This builds your skills and makes your resume more appealing to potential employers. As a student in a nursing program, you will usually meet the requirements for nursing assistant certification. However, you must also take a nursing assistant certification exam.

Getting a hospice nurse job requires a lot of time and dedication. The educational programs are rigorous, and the certification exams require a significant amount of preparation. However, these requirements prepare you for a rewarding career and teach you the skills necessary to provide end-of-life care for patients.

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