What is a Typical Day Like For a Hospice Nurse?

Working as a hospice nurse is never an easy task, regardless of how many years you have had in the field or how experienced you are with patients. Handling the passing of a patient can be extremely overwhelming emotionally and mentally, which is why it is essential to understand the typical day of a hospice nurse if you are considering the career path choice.

Morning Hours

Completing paperwork and getting organized in the first hours of the morning is how a hospice nurse will begin the day. It is also common to attend meetings and sometimes conferences with other staff in your department. Visiting anywhere from 3 to 6 patients in the morning hours is typical, depending on your hospice setting and caseload as well as your daily routine. Assisting a patient may take anywhere from 20 minutes to more than 2 hours, according to your patient’s needs. Other morning tasks include taking phone calls and completing additional paperwork.

Meeting With Patients

Any time there is free time throughout a shift, and it’s not a traditional break or lunch hour, a hospice nurse has the option to check in on patients and spend time with them individually. Assisting patients in hospice is a way for a nurse to give company to those who may not have family or friends available to visit, while still providing necessary medical and food and beverage assistance.

Educational Seminars and Meetings

A hospice nurse has to attend many programs and educational training sessions. Learning about skin care, pain management, and medications and their potential side effects is essential when working as a hospice nurse. It is also necessary to Understand all of the typical signs and symptoms associated with death. This can be learned through a combination of training programs, residency and on-the-job experience.

Caseloads Vary

Caseloads for hospice nurses vary depending on where you are employed as well as the type of patient you are taking on personally. If you have patients in rapidly declining health conditions, you will likely have a lesser caseload as more time is required to work with them. The average number of cases to take on simultaneously is about 10, varying with the patients’ health conditions you are dealing with each day throughout your shift.
Just understand that there are likely to be plenty of fluctuations with your schedule based on your patients’ needs. When you want to work as a hospice nurse, it is highly recommended that you research the various employers that are hiring. Find a place of work that is right for the number of caseloads you are capable of taking on.

The more you understand what a typical day for a hospice nurse involves, the easier it is to know if this is the professional career for you. The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association also suggests volunteering in a hospice setting and talking with other hospice nurses. Knowing the typical responsibilities of a hospice care nurse may help you determine if taking on a similar position is the right choice for you.

Further Reading: What Does a Homecare Health Nurse Do?