Career Spotlight: Home Health Nurse

home health nursing career

Home health care is a path for nurses seeking autonomy and one-on-one patient relationships. It offers nurses the opportunity to make a life-changing impact outside of the traditional medical setting.

What Home Health Nurses Do

Home health nurses use the fundamental skills obtained through nursing training and/or licensure to provide care for patients in their own homes. These patients may need at-home care due to injury or illness, or they require medical supervision but do not need or want to be in an institutional setting. 

Home health nurses care for anyone adjusting to or recovering from a diagnosis, surgery, or illness, including elderly adults and individuals with disabilities. The medical service they provide is wide-ranging, therefore they should have thorough knowledge and nursing skills. Home health nurses may specialize in wound care, cardiac health, geriatrics, or diabetes care.

Home health nurses work for agencies, government organizations, hospitals, or insurance companies. Depending on the employer and care they provide, a home health nurse could work either a traditional schedule or a flexible schedule. They have the option to work overnight or weekends, which helps to balance personal and work responsibilities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for home health nurses is expected to grow. Many medical procedures can now be done in outpatient settings. 

Home health nurses perform a variety of job duties, including:

  • administering medication and intravenous infusions,
  • assisting patients in daily activities such as mobility and grooming,
  • evaluating patient health and performing physical assessments,
  • monitoring and documenting vital signs, and
  • reviewing home safety and offering suggestions for improvement, if necessary.

Educating patients and their family members has also become a major part of being a home health nurse. The aim is to help patients remain independent and maintain wellness. Nurses must assess patient needs, challenges, and learning styles in order to effectively empower them to manage their health.

Independent, but Part of a Team

Some patients have many part-time caregivers, requiring careful coordination and communication. Although they are independent, nurses are not alone in providing home care and services to patients. In addition to nurses, a home health team may consist of social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, home health aides. Home health nurses should keep caregivers informed on the patient’s health.

A home health nurse may have to care for a variety of patients. This means traveling to multiple patients’ homes and potentially treating several patients in one day. Communication and collaboration skills are critical in situations when a home health nurse has to manage various care needs. They also need to be detail-oriented to maintain accurate and updated patient medical records.

Qualities of a Successful Home Health Nurse

Home health nursing is a career option that nurses with an advanced nursing degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), can pursue.

Because they are caring for patients in their homes, home health nurses need to be relaxed and personable. They must be patient and empathetic—traits that are needed for any type of nurse. Tech-savvy is also highly important given the mobile nature of their work and the growing use of telemedicine.

Additionally, home health nurses should be resourceful because they do not have access to the medical equipment and facilities provided in a hospital setting. Preparation and the ability to act on their own in sometimes unpredictable situations serves them well.

Make an Impact on the Everyday Lives of Patients

Home health nursing offers opportunities for nurses seeking to make a difference in patients’ lives beyond a hospital setting. It is a fulfilling career choice for nurses who have the education and experience to handle situations independently and resourcefully. Carlow’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program can prepare you for nursing in a variety of settings, including patients’ homes, hospitals and clinics, and residential care facilities.