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Pros and Cons of Hospice Nursing

Find out if hospice nursing is right for you

Written by Michelle Reed on July 10th, 2012

Individuals often look for many different things in a career—high salary, good benefits, prestige, corporate development, personal advancement…The list goes on and on. However one of the most important aspects to look for in a lifelong pursuit, in a job is that of a “best fit” for oneself. The best fit in terms of a job is largely dependent on one’s personal satisfaction in a position, being called to serve in that capacity. When an individual finds a position that suits his or her innate ability and purpose, then he or she can truly pursue a career in such an area.

One particular field that requires such an endeavor is hospice nursing. While this career path is not for everyone, for individuals who are called to serve those in such need, it is not only a job, it is a passion. As such, hospice nursing presents specific challenges and benefits for any individual involved.

Challenges of Hospice Nursing

The most obvious challenge first, when serving in a field designed to offer end-of-life care, one has to mediate and struggle with issues of attachment and loss. As a nurse, one has very close dealings with patients and become quite attached, but nonetheless, the nurse’s service to the patient and family is to strictly make him or her comfortable. The settings in which hospice nurses serve can also be challenging. While some hospitals do have hospice care units, often hospice nurses serve in the home, which can be particularly unpredictable and unstable due to the circumstances. Another challenge in hospice nursing, or in any field really, is staying abreast of the current trends and needs in medicine. Medicine and medical care is constantly changing with new scientific research and technological developments. Being able to take the time to keep up with all that is changing in medicine is a difficult task. Finally, coping, coping with the stress of dealing with terminal illness day in and day out and not letting it affect one’s personal life is a challenging task.

Benefits of Hospice Nursing

No matter how long the list of challenges may seem, the benefits of serving in such a field of care far outweigh the difficulties. Treating terminally ill patients not only gives an individual the opportunity to touch a life, it typically presents the opportunity to touch a family. As the nurse’s responsibility is to make the patient comfortable and cared for in his or her last few weeks or days, making sure this is done well and done right is such a relief to families and to the patients themselves. Hospice nurses also have the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles including being part of a team to meet the needs of patients, serving patient and family to maintain everyone’s comfort and understanding, helping educate others on end-of-life care through educational settings, becoming an advocate for the patient or family to make sure needs or met, and many others.

While these are in no way comprehensive lists of the challenges and rewards of serving as a hospice nurse, they provide a brief glance into the world of individuals serving in this capacity. It is quite obvious that within this realm of nursing one is offered both daily challenges and daily rewards.

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