JAANUU » What Are Home Health Nurses and How Do You Become One?

What Are Home Health Nurses and How Do You Become One?

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Some healthcare professionals want a career in nursing but don’t necessarily want to work in a hospital. Maybe the constant buzz of activity inside a more extensive facility stresses you out, or perhaps you want the flexibility to travel or spend more time in a home environment.

Or maybe you simply wish to forge closer connections with your patients by addressing their needs one-on-one.

Or perhaps you want to mix up the colors of your scrub sets instead of conforming to the same dress code day after day.

Working as a home health travel nurse allows you to do all this and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about nurse homecare and what to expect on the job.

Home nurse definition

Man wearing classic straight leg pant olive scrubs

Sometimes, medical care extends beyond hospitals and secondary care homes. For some patients, nothing beats the comfort of their own home and living a fairly independent life with the help of a home nurse.

What is home nursing exactly? 

Home nurses are mobile workers who travel to patients’ homes, providing various types of assistance. They act as caregivers for operation recovery, oversee chronic health issues, support the elderly and complete daily chores for disabled patients, among other tasks.

What does a home health care nurse do?

Beyond checking those vital signs to make sure their patient doesn’t need a repeat trip to the hospital, other responsibilities that fall under the home health nurse job description include:

  • Providing general companionship
  • Completing rehabilitative services, like helping patients regain their mobility after an accident
  • Assisting with personal grooming activities, such as dressing, bathing and eating
  • Helping with household chores

Different home health nurses have different credentials and specializations.

  • Registered nurses (RNs): Just like in the hospital, RNs oversee medical exams, record vital signs and administer medication. (You’ll need to be dressed head to toe in professional scrubs, too.) 
  • Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs): These nurses are primarily responsible for elderly and disabled patients and send status reports to their supervisors. They manage wound care and assist with monitoring vitals. 
  • Nurse assistants: As a liaison between patients and medical staff, assistants are involved with daily tasks, such as meal prep or bathing. Like certified nurses, they too must wear scrubs on the job.

How to become a home health nurse

Nurse wearing eyelet top gray scrubs

Helping patients from the comfort of their homes can be a gratifying career. All patients have different care needs, but your role can greatly improve their quality of life. Working as a home health nurse can give you more variety than in a hospital setting without the chaotic schedule of a travel nurse. 

However, you’ll need a few skills and certifications.

What are the requirements to become a home health nurse?

Registered nurses (RN)

This position comes with better pay and placement opportunities. To qualify, you’ll first need your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), then you’ll need to pass your NCLEX-RN exam. Sometimes you can achieve your RN status through an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), but a BSN makes you more competitive in the job market. 

A BSN takes an average of four years to complete. Some nurses, determined to specialize in a particular area, complete their Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN), adding a few more years to the educational grind. 

Licensed practical nurses (LPN) and licensed vocational nurses (LVN)

LPNs and LVNs need to complete their training via an accredited one-year program, typically run by a technical school or a community college. You’ll have to pass the NCLEX-PN exam, too.

Nursing assistants

You don’t require a degree for this particular role. However, you can obtain certification to make your job prospects more competitive.

What else do you need?

We’re done with the educational requirements, but wait! You also need soft skills like attention to detail, strong organizational skills, and plenty of physical stamina. You’ll be doing a lot of “lifting and shifting” on this job, so wear a comfortable scrub set that works well for your body type. Interacting with your patients requires a friendly camaraderie, especially if those patients are separated from loved ones.

That means strong interpersonal skills are a must. And remember, you’ll be working alone or with a small team, so make sure you have independent decision-making skills that allow you to be comfortable taking charge. 

How much does a home health nurse make?

Plus woman wearing insulated jacket wine scrubs

The person you care for usually provides your home health nurse salary (not the hospital or a central employer). This means it differs from many other nursing careers. Sometimes a healthcare plan like Medicare, Medicaid or insurance companies for worker’s compensation will pay the salary. 

Your pay grade will vary depending on certifications and employers. RNs earn an average salary of $75,330 per year. LPNs and LVNs make $48,820 per year, while nursing assistants earn $30,850. However, home health aides make $27,080 on average

Why should you choose home care services?

In the coming years, the field of at-home medical care is projected to grow by 33%, according to the BLS. That means your job prospects for this field are promising and will improve. The need for more affordable healthcare options and the reality of our post-pandemic world is driving this growth. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been prime spots for COVID-19 outbreaks. Many patients are opting for home care.

If you’re looking for more info on what you’ll need for this position, read up on medical scrubs and who wears them.

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