What is a Home Health Nurse?

If you are considering a career in nursing, but don’t want the routine of a hospital or clinic, or if you are a nurse who needs flexibility in your work schedule, you might consider becoming a home health nurse. Home health nursing offers generally higher pay than facility nursing does and your schedule is more flexible. In addition, you can work as much, or as little, as you want.

What is Home Health Nursing?

The term is sometimes confused with home care, but it is an entirely different career. The federal government, on its Medicare website, defines home health as a “wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.” Home health care includes things like wound care, educating patients and their caregivers about protocols, giving intravenous medications or injections, pain control and monitoring severe illness among other services.

Often, home health nurses see several patients in a day. They mainly work with the elderly, but may assist younger patients with developmental delays or mobility issues like cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. They confer with the patient’s doctor to ensure that their patients are taking medications correctly, collect lab samples and deliver them to the clinic or hospital, fill mediplanners and syringes, counsel with the patient and his family and locate resources for patient care. That includes doing things like finding cheaper versions of medications so that patients can afford them.

They also do post-surgery wound care and monitor patients whose health is fragile to determine when it is necessary to “step up” care, according to All Nurses. Home care involves assisting clients with the activities of daily living such as dressing and grooming, housekeeping, socialization and reminders to take medications as well as transporting clients to and from appointments.

What Are the Advantages to being a Home Health Nurse?

Home health nurses work in different environments, meeting new challenges each day. They can work one shift a week or full time, take off when they need to care for a family member or want a vacation, and can arrange their daily schedules to meet their other obligations. While salaries are generally higher to accommodate the need to buy health insurance and other benefits provided by clinics and hospitals for their employees, many agencies that hire home health nurses also have benefit packages. Nurses sometimes are required to agree to pick up a minimum number of shifts per week or per month.

The only difference in licensing is that home health nurses can become certified through the American Nursing Credentialing Center by passing an examination and meeting other criteria. One of the perks of this type of nursing is that these nurses earn a higher median salary. Although the amount you earn varies by geographical location, the median salary for a home health nurse is $74,026 per year. Because of the aging of America, and recent changes in healthcare laws, the outlook for this profession is bright. Medicare and other insurances would rather pay for an “as-needed” nurse to attend to medical needs that do not require hospitalization instead of placing their policyholders in after-surgery or respite care in long-term care facilities.

Related Resource: Nurse Case Manager

This is a great career for nurses who need more flexibility, especially for those nearing retirement. Nurses who love making a difference in an individual patient’s life and meeting new challenges daily will do well as a home health nurse.