The Special Role of a Hospice Nurse

January 11, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I had a dear friend of mine battle cancer for three years before the disease took her life. I had the honor of staying with her when her husband had errands to run and I took her to some of her doctor’s appointments and tried to get her mind off of the pain for a second or two. It was one of the hardest, most precious things I have ever done in my life. I only had a slight glimmer of what a hospice nurse does and I give them my upmost respect.

As a nurse with an RN to BSN degree there are tons of areas that you can specialize in. Last post I discussed the new role of the nurse health coach and today I saw an informative article on the life of a hospice nurse. Granted, it takes an amazingly compassionate and grounded person to pursue this career, but I can think of few roles that are more important and heartwarming.

In The Missourian reporter Melanie Loth followed hospice nurse Dorothy Rainwater to fully understand what the day in the life of a hospice nurse is truly like. “For Rainwater, illness and death have become commonplace. And she has learned to draw a necessary line in her life between professional and personal.

“You go into the whole thing with the knowledge that this is all going in one direction,” she says. “The day is going to come when the patient is going to go on.”

The life of a hospice nurse is a team effort to make the final days of a terminal patient as comfortable as you possibly can. “Home care aides, chaplains, social workers, volunteers and nurses work together to care for patients and keep each other informed of patient needs: Home care aides tend to basics such as bathing or changing bed pads. Chaplains help patients and family spiritually as death nears. Social workers deal with emotional and psychological issues about death; they also schedule visits with families after a patient’s death. Volunteers visit patients simply to talk and provide company. The nurses are in charge of monitoring the patient’s physical condition, recommending medicines, and at core, controlling pain.”When all of these factors work together, it makes the end of a patient’s life valued and comforts both the patient and the surrounding family members.
Being a hospice nurse is a difficult job that takes a special person. With your BSN degree, you can find a plethora of avenues to help hurting people.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit