How to become a home health care nurse

Nursing General Information and Overview for Home Health Care

Home health care allows the patient and family to maintain their dignity and independence. According to the National Association for Home Care, there are more than 7 million people in the United States who need home health care nursing services due to acute illness, long-term health problems, permanent disability, or illness. terminal.

Home Health Care Basics

Nurses practice in various settings: hospital settings, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care. Nursing home health care is a growing phenomenon as more patients and their families want to receive care in their homes. The history of home health care stems from Public Health Nursing, where public health nurses made home visits to promote health education and provide treatment as part of community programs. Today, academic programs train nurses in home care, and agencies place home health care nurses with sick people and their families, based on the experience and qualifications of the nurse. In many cases there is a shared relationship between the agency and the academic institution.

There have been many changes in the field of home health care. These include Medicare and Medicaid, and long-term care insurance reimbursement and documentation. It is important that the nurse and the nursing agency are aware of the many factors that go into these rules and regulations resulting from these organizations. Demographic and demographic changes are also taking place. The baby boomers are nearing retirement and will present new challenges for the home health care industry. Technology and medical care in hospitals have led to a shorter hospital stay and greater rehabilitation at home. There are also increases in outpatient medical procedures with follow-up home care. This has resulted in decreased mortality rates from these technologies and healthcare has led to increases in morbidity and chronic disease making the need for home healthcare a higher priority.

Home Health Care Nurse Job Description

Through a variety of skills and experience, home health care nurses specialize in a wide range of treatments; emotional support, patient education recovering from illness and injury for young children and adults, for women who have recently given birth, for the elderly who need palliative care for chronic illnesses.

A practicing nurse must have the skills to provide care in a unique setting, such as someone’s home. The nurse is working with the patient and the family and must understand the communication skills for this dynamic. The relationship is evident in all nursing positions, but working in a patient’s own living space requires a different level of skill and understanding. There is autonomous decision making as the nurse no longer works as a team with other nurses in a structured setting, but instead she is now a member of the ‘family’ team. The host family has cultural values ​​that are important and are different for each patient and must be treated with extreme sensitivity. Other skills include critical thinking, coordination, evaluation, communication, and documentation.

Home health nurses also specialize in caring for children with disabilities that require additional skills such as patience and understanding of the needs of the family. Children today live with disabilities that would have resulted in mortality just twenty years ago. Genetic disorders, congenital physical deficiencies, and injuries are just a few. Many families are familiar with managing a child’s needs, but still require expert care that only a nurse home health care provider can provide. It is important for a home health care nurse to be aware of the family’s experience of the child’s condition for proper care of the child. There are many complexities involved, but most importantly, a positive attitude and positive reinforcement are paramount to a child’s development.

Medication coordination between the nurse, physician, and home health pharmacist ensures proper handling of the exact science behind giving the patient the correct dosage, timing, and combinations. Home health care nurses must be familiar with pharmacology and receive training on the different medications used by patients in the clinical setting.

Many advanced practice nurses are familiar with medication regiments. They have completed graduate programs. Home health care agencies believe that a nurse should have at least one year of clinical experience before entering home health care. Advanced Nurse Practitioners can accelerate that training by helping new nurses understand the home health care market and teaching.

Employment and Salary

According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 2.4 million nurses in the United States, the largest health care occupation, yet many academic and hospital organizations believe there is a serious nursing shortage. The nursing shortage was 6% in 2000 and is expected to be 10% in 2010. The median hospital nursing salary is $53,450 and 3 out of 5 nursing positions are located in the hospital. For home health care, the salary is $49,000. For nursing care facilities, they were the lowest at $48,200.

Training and continuing education

Most home health nurses obtain their education through accredited nursing schools throughout the country with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN), or a Master’s in Nursing (MSN). According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2004 there were 674 BSN nursing programs, 846 ADN programs. In addition, in 2004, there were 417 master’s programs, 93 doctoral programs, and 46 BSN joint doctoral programs. The associate degree program takes 2-3 years to complete, while bachelor’s degrees take 4 years to complete. Nurses can also earn specialized professional certificates online in geriatric care or life care planning.

Additionally, for those nurses who choose to advance into administrative or research, consulting, and teaching positions, a bachelor’s degree is often essential. A bachelor’s degree is also important for becoming a clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner (US Department of Labor, 2004).

All home health nurses have supervised clinical experience during their training, but as noted above, advanced nurse practitioners have master’s degrees and, unlike bachelor’s and associate degrees, have a minimum of two years of post-clinical experience. Course work includes anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology and behavioral sciences, and liberal arts. Many of these programs have training in nursing homes, public health departments, home health care agencies, and outpatient clinics. (US Department of Labor, 2004).

Whether a nurse is training in a hospital, nursing facility, or home care, continuing education is necessary. Health care is changing rapidly and keeping up with the latest advances improves patient care and healthcare procedures. Universities, continuing education programs, and Internet sites offer continuing education. One such organization that provides continuing education is the American Nurses Association (ANA) or through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


There are many rewards to becoming a home health care nurse. Some rewards include the relationship with the patient and her family, autonomy, independence and critical thinking. The 21st century brings with it many opportunities and challenges. We must face these challenges head-on: There is an aging baby boomer population, a growing disease factor due to increased medical technology and patient care, and a growing shortage of nursing care.

Becoming a home health care nurse today is exciting and an opportunity to make a difference one life at a time. With clinical experience and the right education, a home health care nurse will lead the future of health care.

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