Becoming a Nurse in Home Health Care


An Overview of Nursing Care Delivered in the Home

With the help of home health care, the patient and their loved ones can continue to live with respect and autonomy. More than 7 million Americans require home health care nursing services due to acute illness, chronic health issues, permanent disability, or terminal disease, as reported by the National Association for Home Care.

Fundamentals of Home Health Care

Nurses work in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and private residences. More patients and their families opt for in-home health care nursing services. Home health care can trace its roots back to public health nursing, in which nurses go to people’s homes to educate them about preventative maintenance and treat them as part of more significant community outreach initiatives. Nurses can now specialize in home care by taking university courses, and agencies match qualified nurses with patients and their families. The agency and the university often work together in some capacity.

The landscape of home health care has shifted significantly in recent years. Long-term care insurance claims and Medicare/Medicaid paperwork are examples. The nurse and the nursing agency must understand the complexity of the laws and restrictions imposed by these groups. Demographic and population shifts are also occurring. The home healthcare business may face new obstacles as baby boomers enter retirement. Thanks to advancements in technology and healthcare, patients typically spend less time in the hospital and more time rehabilitating at home. There has been an uptick in outpatient medical procedures requiring subsequent home care. Because of advancements in technology and medical care, the death rate has dropped. Still, more people are now living with chronic diseases and injuries, increasing the importance of home health care nurses.

Job Duties of a Nurse in Home Care

Home health care nurses have diverse expertise and treat patients from newborns to the elderly needing palliative care for chronic conditions by providing emotional support and education about their requirements.

A nurse in the field must be prepared to work in various environments, including the patient’s house. The nurse’s ability to communicate effectively with patients and their loved ones is essential. All nursing roles require a certain degree of rapport, but attending to a patient at home requires specialized abilities. Since the nurse is no longer part of a larger, more formalized team, she can make her own decisions as a “family” team member. Every patient is different, and the host family’s cultural values should be considered carefully. The ability to think critically, coordination, assessment, communication, and documentation, are other abilities.

Care for disabled children is a subspecialty of home health care nursing that calls for a unique set of competencies, including compassion and sensitivity to the family’s situation. Just twenty years ago, children with disabilities would have been killed. Injuries, illnesses, and birth defects are only a handful of the many potential causes of physical handicaps. Despite familiarity with their child’s care, many families still require specialized attention that a home health care nurse can only provide. A home healthcare nurse must be informed of the family’s knowledge of the child’s condition to provide the best treatment possible. There are many moving parts, but the most crucial thing for the kid’s growth is a good attitude and lots of praise.

The home health care nurse, physician, and pharmacist should all work together to ensure that the patient receives their medications at the right time, in the right amount, and in the right combination. Pharmacology studies how drugs work in the body, and home health care nurses should be educated on the many medications their patients use.

Many experienced nurses have extensive knowledge of drug schedules. They are educated to the postgraduate level. Home healthcare companies often recommend that nurses have at least one year of clinical experience before working in this field. Experienced nurses can speed up the process by educating new nurses on the home healthcare market and how to instruct.

Position and Compensation

Though nursing is the largest healthcare occupation in the United States (with 2.4 million registered nurses), many hospitals and universities fear a severe lack of qualified nurses. In 2000, there was a 6% shortfall of nurses; by 2010, that number is predicted to rise to 10%. Three out of every five nursing positions are in hospitals, paying an average of $53,450 annually. The average annual wage for a home health aide is $49,000. The lowest average salaries were found in nursing homes, at $48,200 annually.

Learning and development

The majority of home health care nurses hold either an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), or a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) from one of the many reputable nursing institutions in the United States. There were 674 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs and 846 Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) programs in the United States in 2004. In 2004, there were also 46 BSN-Ph.D. combined programs, 417 master’s degree programs, and 93 doctoral programs in nursing. Associate degrees can be earned in two to three years, whereas bachelor’s degrees need four years of study. Several advanced practice nursing programs are available online, such as those for Geriatric Care and Life Care Planning.

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for nurses who wish to advance into administration roles or to do research, consult, or teach. Clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners all require a bachelor’s degree (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004).

As was previously stated, all home health care nurses do supervised clinical rotations as part of their education. Still, advanced practice nurses have master’s degrees, at least two years of post-clinical experience, and formal education. Anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, behavioral sciences, and liberal arts are only a few topics covered in the curriculum. Nursing homes, public health departments, home health agencies, and ambulatory care clinics are familiar instruction places for many of these programs. U.S. Department of Labor (2004).

A nurse’s education never ends, whether she works in a hospital, a nursing home, or in a patient’s home. The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, making it more critical than ever to keep up with the most recent advances in the field. Continuing education can be found at many different institutions, including universities and online. The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) are two examples of groups that offer CEUs to registered nurses.


Becoming a nurse in home health care has several advantages. Getting to know a patient and their loved ones, having responsibility for one’s actions, and using one’s reasoning are all positive outcomes. The 21st century is full of exciting possibilities and dangerous threats. An aging baby boomer population, a rising morbidity rate due to improvements in medical technology and patient care, and a concurrent lack of nursing staff are all obstacles that must be overcome.

Home healthcare nursing is rapidly expanding, and nurses in this field have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives truly. A home health care nurse who has worked in the area and received the appropriate training will be in the vanguard of medical practice in the future.

By Michael V. Gruber, MPH, a My Nursing Degree Online contributor who writes and compiles content for nurses interested in online CE. Michael’s background in public health and medicine gives him a distinct vantage point on the current nursing shortage situation, and he uses this to write in-depth pieces about nurse education and career development for the Nursing Career Blog.

Learn about the requirements for certification as a Home Health Care Nurse and current job vacancies on My Nursing Degree Online [].

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