how to become a home health nurse

Home health nursing is a nursing specialty in which LVN or RN nurses provide comprehensive, one-on-one treatment to patients in their own homes instead of at a medical facility. They specifically treat the elderly, critically ill, disabled or those recovering from surgery, injuries or an accident.

If you want a medical career where you get to provide personalized care to a few select patients in a more intimate environment, then becoming a home health nurse may be a great choice for you.

How Can You Become a Home Health Nurse?

  1. Education: Obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). St. Louis College of Health Careers offers a comprehensive practical nursing program that will thoroughly prepare you for a career in home health.
  2. Licensure: Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse (RN)
  3. Clinical Experience: Gain clinical experience by working in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes, which can provide you with real-world nursing skills and knowledge
  4. Certification: Some employers may require or prefer you to have specific certification in home health nursing. Consider pursuing certifications like the Certified Home Health Nurse (CHHN) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
  5. Apply for Home Health Positions: Look for job opportunities in home health agencies, hospices or private practices. Apply with a strong resume that highlights your nursing education, clinical experience and relevant certifications. While prior nursing experience can be beneficial when applying, it is not always a strict requirement. Many home health agencies provide orientation and training to help nurses adapt to the unique challenges of home care.

What Skills Are Required to Become a Home Health Nurse?

To be a home health nurse, you need to be proficient in nursing assessments, wound care, medication management, therapeutic guidance and other clinical skills. You also must be able to make quick decisions and adapt to changing situations, especially since you won’t be working in close proximity to any colleagues. These are essential to ensure you provide safe and effective care while operating outside of the hospital or other typical medical settings.

Excellent communication skills are also crucial. Home health nurses need to clearly explain treatment plans and build trust with patients and their families, showing understanding and compensation so they know you’ll be with them every step of the way.

Challenges and Rewards of Home Health Nurse

The Benefits

  • Autonomy: Home health nurses have greater independence and flexibility in managing their schedules and patient care plans.
  • Personalized Care: Working one-on-one with patients allows for personalized care and the opportunity to build strong patient relationships.
  • Varied Settings: Home health nurses experience a diverse range of environments.
  • Fulfillment: Making a positive impact on patients’ lives and assisting them in their recovery journey can be highly rewarding.

The Potential Disadvantages

  • Isolation: Home health nurses may experience isolation due to limited interaction with colleagues compared to hospital settings.
  • Travel: Frequent travel to patients’ homes can be time-consuming and physically demanding, especially since you’ll be in charge of acquiring your own transportation. However, some agencies may provide mileage reimbursement.
  • Safety Concerns: Home environments can present safety challenges for nurses, especially in unfamiliar neighborhoods, being isolated with patients or when dealing with aggressive pets.
  • Documentation: Extensive documentation is required for each patient visit, which can be time-consuming.

Are There Opportunities for Career Advancement in Home Health Nursing?

Yes, home health nurses can pursue advanced practice roles, such as becoming a clinical nurse specialist or a nurse practitioner, with further education and certification.

We Equip Aspiring Home Health Nurses With the Skills and Knowledge They Need to Thrive

The Practical Nursing program at St. Louis College of Health Careers provides thorough training for a career in home health with a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for a wide variety of job opportunities. From learning to develop a plan of care to providing daily care to patients, you’ll leave SLCHC with confidence and a comprehensive understanding of the field. Call 866-529-2070 today to learn more about our program and start your application.

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