What Is a Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse?


November 5th, 2010

In general, hospice care and palliative care operate from the same sort of philosophy: both forms of care seek to provide a patient with relief from whatever pain ails him or her, rather than attempting to cure or treat the cause of the pain. However, in the United States, hospice care refers to end-of-life care, whereas palliative care is more applicable to the care of patients who are suffering from incurable and/or seriously debilitating diseases.

In either case, both forms of care require a special kind of nurse to assist patients, doctors, and family members. A hospice and palliative care nurse should be able to perform the usual duties of a nurse, such as administering medicine and shots and day-to-day care in order to keep the patient physically comfortable. In addition to this, many hospice and palliative care nurses are responsible for managing the patient’s entire care plan, from assessing and diagnosing problems to planning and implementing treatment, which may require that the nurse coordinate with other health care institutions and doctors. A hospice and palliative care nurse also assists the doctor who is treating the patient as he or she performs procedures to ease the patient’s pain.

However, where hospice and palliative care nurses should be especially skilled is providing relief from mental suffering, especially the suffering that occurs in the face of death or unending illness. Hospice and palliative care nurses should be exceptionally gifted in interacting with other humans, and they should have a clear philosophy that affirms the power of life while also giving importance to dying as a natural human process. By combining strong communication skills and generous sympathy, hospice and palliative care nurses can create a comfortable environment for the patient.

In addition to comforting their patients, hospice and palliative care nurses should be skilled at interacting with family members. They should understand how family members might struggle to adjust to this next stage in their loved one’s life. Furthermore, hospice and palliative care nurses should help family members easily navigate treatment and care options for their loved one. A hospice and palliative care nurse will not be alone in this cause, as hospice and palliative care is administered by a variety of professionals; however, he or she should still be extra sensitive and skilled at handling emotional situations.

If you are interested in becoming a hospice and palliative care nurse and believe you have the skills and qualities to be successful in this career path, then you should look into how you could earn such a job. Do plenty of research, including talking to hospice and palliative care nurses, and also look into enrolling in a nursing degree program.

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