Should You Consider a Career in Hospice?

A career in hospice care affords many unique opportunities. Unlike other healthcare career choices, a career in hospice doesn’t revolve around patients seeking curative treatment. Hospice is a specialized field and there are multiple reasons why so many people choose to work in hospice care.

The hospice care field is comprised of healthcare professionals with a variety of backgrounds, educations and experiences. Jobs in hospice care include healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals, such as nurses, physicians, certified nursing assistants, home health aids, counselors, clergy, and social workers all play an important role in hospice and palliative care.

For healthcare professionals, a career in hospice care can be challenging and rewarding. A healthcare professional who chooses to work in hospice and palliative medicine concentrates on preventing and alleviating suffering and improving the quality of life for patients and their families facing the many challenges of living with a life limiting illness. They address physical, as well as emotional and spiritual needs.

"For most of us working in hospice, it is so much more than a job, it's a commitment to making an impact on the lives of  the patients we care for and their families."            
~Don Schumacher~ 

The professions below are all members of the hospice interdisciplinary team that provide symptom management, education, guidance and support to patients and families.
Accordingly, they all participant in 
developing an individualized plan of care for each patient and family. Interdisciplinary team members must be capable of compassionate communication with patients and their families, be resilient and empathetic, have keen observation and assessment skills, high ethical standards, excellent communication skills to alert doctors and others about changes in patient conditions. They also need the emotional and physical stability to deal with the challenges of severe illness and death.

Hospice Nursing Careers

Hospice nurses are registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVN) who provide nursing care. They work with patients, their families and other healthcare professionals to maintain the comfort and quality of life during the final stages of life. A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) works under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN).

Hospice Aid (HHA)-Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide (CNA)

A Hospice Aid (HHA) Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide (CNA) is a healthcare worker who works with patients under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). The focus of the care provided by a HHA-CNA is to comfort and support patients and families. Hospice Aid (HHA) Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide (CNA) may have more one-on-one interaction with a patient and acts as a liaison between the patient and the RN to make sure he or she has all the information about the patient that is needed. 

Hospice Social Worker 

Hospice social workers help both patients and their families navigate the difficult process of end-of-life planning; manage the mental, emotional, familial, and monetary stressors of a life limiting illness; understand their plan of care and be vocal about their needs; overcome crisis situations; and connect to other support services in the area. Hospice social workers are advocates for patients and their families, and possess a deep knowledge of what their patients and families need and what resources are available within and outside of hospice settings to help them.

Hospice Chaplain-Counselor

Hospice chaplains provide spiritual support to patients and their families. Chaplains make spiritual assessments of patients, taking into account mental, emotional, physical and spiritual stresses, and respond with appropriate counseling and care. Individualized plans may include spiritual consultations and performance of sacraments.

Hospice Nurse Practitioner

Hospice nurse practitioners perform face-to-face assessments that provide physicians with the information they need to evaluate patient recertifications for continued hospice eligibility. Conducting face-to-face assessments include meeting with the patient, reviewing the patient's chart, consulting with the patient's nurse and other team members and consulting with facility staff. 

Physician-Hospice Medical Director

A hospice physician oversees the hospice plan of care and is responsible for ensuring that the patient’s care and wishes are honored, that the hospice team is supported and that all care goals for the patient are met. Hospice physicians help the hospice team maximize patient comfort and support to enhance the patient’s quality of life. Hospice physicians certify and re-certify hospice patients. 

Think a career in hospice might be a good fit for you?

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