Is becoming a home health nurse right for me?

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What do home health nurses do?

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How to become a Home Health Nurse

Becoming a home health nurse typically requires several years of education and experience in the nursing field. Here are some details on how to become a home health nurse:

  • Earn a nursing degree: The first step to becoming a home health nurse is to earn a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program. You can choose to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Many employers may prefer or require home health nurses to have a bachelor's degree, as it provides more comprehensive education and training.
  • Get licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN): After earning your nursing degree, you must obtain a license to practice as a registered nurse (RN). This involves passing the NCLEX-RN exam and meeting the requirements of your state’s Board of Nursing.
  • Gain nursing experience: Before transitioning to a home health nursing role, it's important to gain experience as a nurse. This experience can be obtained by working in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare setting.
  • Specialize in home health: Once you have gained nursing experience, you may consider pursuing additional education and training in home health nursing by obtaining certifications (see below).
  • Apply for home health nursing jobs: Once you have the necessary education, experience, and certifications, you can start applying for home health nursing jobs. These jobs may be available through home health agencies, hospitals, or other healthcare providers.
  • Maintain continuing education: As a home health nurse, you will need to maintain your nursing license and certifications by completing continuing education requirements. This ensures that you stay up-to-date with the latest advances in healthcare and provide the best care possible to your patients.

Certifications can be important for home health nurses, as they demonstrate a certain level of expertise and dedication to the field. Here are some certifications that home health nurses can consider:

  • Certified Home Health Nurse (CHHN) - This certification is offered by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and requires passing an exam. It is intended for nurses who have at least two years of home health nursing experience.
  • Home Care Coding Specialist-Diagnosis (HCS-D) - This certification is offered by the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and is designed for nurses who specialize in coding diagnoses for home health patients.
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) - This certification is offered by the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC) and is intended for nurses who work with patients who are nearing the end of their lives.
  • Wound Care Certification - Several organizations offer certification in wound care, including the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB) and the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy (NAWCO). This type of certification is especially useful for home health nurses who work with patients who have wounds that require ongoing care.
  • Certified in Care Coordination and Transition Management (CCCTM) - This certification is offered by the Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB) and is intended for nurses who coordinate care for patients as they move between different healthcare settings, such as hospitals and home health agencies.

There are several professional associations that cater to the needs of home health nurses, providing them with resources and support to advance their careers and improve patient care. Here are a few examples:

  • National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) - NAHC is a nonprofit organization that represents home care and hospice agencies in the United States. They offer various resources and educational opportunities for home health nurses, including webinars, conferences, and publications.
  • Home Healthcare Nurses Association (HHNA) - HHNA is a specialty organization of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice that specifically serves home health nurses. They provide networking opportunities, educational resources, and advocacy for home health nurses.
  • Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) - VNAA is a national association that represents nonprofit home health and hospice agencies. They offer resources and support for home health nurses, as well as advocacy for the home health industry.
  • National Gerontological Nursing Association (NGNA) - NGNA is an association that promotes excellence in gerontological nursing practice. They offer resources and support for home health nurses who work with older adults.
  • American Nurses Association (ANA) - ANA is a professional organization that represents all nurses, including those who work in home health. They provide resources and support for nurses in various specialties, as well as advocacy for the nursing profession.