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Skills & Competencies of a Hospice Nurse

by Naomi Millburn, studioD

If you're considering a career as a hospice nurse, an understanding of the job beyond standard nursing duties is key. Hospice nurses are generally employed to care for people who are terminally ill. The job often calls for a focus on making sure patients are as relaxed and at ease as possible, instead of concentrating on potential future recovery.

Educational Background

Having the right nursing background is essential for hospice nurses. If you want to be a hospice nurse, you have to begin as a registered nurse, with options such as attending nursing school and completing a nursing bachelor of science program at a college or university. The educational process for being a registered nurse also involves education in proper nutrition, human anatomy and biology, for example. Once you're officially a registered nurse, you can zero in on your specialty by receiving certification as a hospice employee. To achieve state certification in hospice nursing, you need a minimum of two years working as a registered nurse -- full-time -- in a hospice setting.

Pain Management

Understanding pain management is a primary focus for hospice nurses. If a patient has a limited amount of time to live, the goal is to ensure that he can do so with as little discomfort as possible. A hospice nurse must be skilled in the realm of pain management. She should be on hand to analyze a patient's symptoms -- and adeptly figure out how to handle them to ensure maximum physical ease. Being a hospice nurse entails duties such as administering medications and taking notes on patients' statuses.

Empathy as a Strength

Hospice nurses should be competent in interacting closely with other people. And most importantly, hospice nurses must be empathetic. It's common for hospice patients to experience anguish as they get to the final stages of life. Since hospice nurses work so closely with these patients, they must be able to accommodate the patients' physical discomfort and their emotional discomfort. If a patient is nervous and scared, a hospice nurse should be willing to offer help in the form of attentive listening. Strong communication abilities in general are vital for hospice nurses.

Analytical Skills

Much of a hospice nurse's work involves analyzing situations. Hospice nurses need closely monitor patients for indications of problems. They need to be attentive to any changes their patients experience. If a patient all of a sudden is feeling immense head pain, the hospice nurse has to quickly figure out what might be wrong and how to proceed in dealing with it. Problem-solving skills are vital for success in hospice nursing.

Even Disposition

You have to remain collected and in control even in panic-inducing situations if you're a hospice nurse. If a patient has a medical emergency, it's your job to handle it without losing your cool. Urgent situations are the name of the game in the medical field.

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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