The Duties of Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses


October 25th, 2010

The healthcare industry is a large part of the professional job market, employs millions of people each year, and continues to show signs of significant growth and job opportunities. One of the largest components of the industry is made up of nurses, in which there are many different types of nurses in the field. Two types of nurses that are closely related and work with the same type of patients include hospice and palliative care nurses. The care that hospice and palliative care nurses provide are generally the same, however what differs is the way that they practice and the amount of time they have with their patients.

Hospice and palliative care nurses focus on providing aid and physical care to terminally ill patients and their families. In short, they generally promote the qualify of life for their patients by assisting them with everyday tasks, as well as making them comfortable and offering them support. Hospice nurses provide primary care under a federal program that allows their patients to die in the comfort of their own homes, surrounded by their family and friends. On average, hospice patients usually die within one month, according to Nurse Source. Palliative care nurses care for those with a longer prognoses, but still have illnesses that are incurable, and work to relieve their symptoms and suffering.

The main difference between these nurses and nurses specializing in other areas, is that hospice and palliative care nurses are not aiding patients in recovery, just to make them as comfortable as possible, with minimized pain and suffering. Hospice and palliative care nurses frequently work closely with other health care providers, such as physicians, to help the patient and their families cope with accepting their patient’s conditions. They frequently monitor and record patient’s symptoms and histories, administer medication, provide emotional support to the patient and their families, and make the patient and their family as comfortable with the situation as possible.

Hospice and palliative care nurses can work in a number of settings including hospitals, nursing and retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and hospices. Some nurses also work in the homes of their patients as well. These nurses must be qualified as registered nurses to practice, and must have completed an additional 2 year training requirement in hospice. They must have knowledge and training in pain and system management, disease processes, loss and grief issues, patient advocacy, and ethics, amongst others.

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