National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

hospice nurse working with patient
Written by
Jeremy Booher
November 20, 2022

Hospice and palliative care are both honorable and necessary nursing specialties. Often, these two disciplines are referred to in a pair because hospice care and palliative care are quite similar - it's just with palliative care, there is no intent to treat the disease and only to provide comfort measures. It takes a lot of compassion in healthcare to work with patients during their final stages of life. Read more about hospice care on our nursing specialty ultimate guide dedicated to this noble field.

What is Hospice and Palliative Care Month?

November is a month dedicated to reaching out throughout the country and raising awareness of hospice and palliative care's unique services. The main focus of the hospice is life. The dying patient and the families and friends of the patient are provided spiritual, emotional, and specialized quality care. Although the patients are at the end of life, hospice makes it as comfortable as possible for the dying patient and their friends and family.

Hospice Care For the Dying:

If you're admitted to a hospice care center, all therapies have ended, and the chance of recovery is not possible. With hospice, patients can still be treated. The whole intention of hospice is to comfort the patient and friends and family to make the passing patients' last days as meaningful as can be.

Palliative Care:

If you have a terminal illness such as cancer, palliative care takes care of the person's needs and the disease. Palliative care intends to provide comfort and address the psychological, social, or spiritual problems one might be facing.

Nurses Deal With Grief:

When working at a hospice or palliative care center, nurses go to work to tend to the dying. They take care of and do all they can to meet a person's needs in their last days, along with listening to the family members grieving. 

This daily job of a hospice nurse can be traumatizing. They are not machines. They are professionals but can suffer just as any person would. Most people can't handle the sadness of watching people die, let alone for years, depending on how long the nurse has endured the job—working in a field as emotionally taxing as hospice could contribute to nursing burnout. A nurse might want to seek counseling to deal with overwhelming grief if it becomes an issue. For this reason, Hospice and Palliative Care Month is so important.

RN, LPN, and CNA Jobs in Hospice:

  • RN: As a registered nurse, you will be looking over the treatment of the terminally ill patient. Case management nurses often work in hospice as well as those who provide direct patient care. Upon taking this job, you will be trained and specialize in giving treatments and assessments of the terminally ill. RN jobs in hospice include frequent collaboration with caregivers and the patient's family. 
  • LPN: A licensed practical nurse (LPN) takes a special kind of person, considering you will be working with the dying. The licensed practical nurse will assess symptoms and pain management while working with a team involved in the patient's care plan. The LPN's job requires a compassionate, sensitive, and caring person to work with these patients while being strong enough to deal with death.
  • CNA: Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) can also work jobs in hospice and palliative care. Working under the supervision of an LPN or RN, a CNA will be relaying the needs of the patient while assisting in all basic tasks such as:
  • Feeding
  • Bathing
  • Turning the patient
  • Changing bed linen
  • Cleaning the patient's area 
  • Helping with equipment set up

Working In Hospice Or Palliative Care:

Jobs dealing with the terminally ill will have their challenges, such as doing everything you can for a person knowing the result is death. You will hear stories of their memories, watching them grieve and deal with the dying person's family and loved ones witnessing their pain. 

At the same time, it's rewarding to a person's soul, knowing they did all they could do for a person in their final days or hours, taking care of them until their last breath. This job is not for everybody, but it's a job that is crucial in healthcare, and we praise the men and women who compassionately care for these people in their final stages of life. Many people who work these jobs for any length of time tend to realize their mortality, live life as happily, and build as many good memories as possible. After seeing people die and hearing stories from the patients and families, they learn to value the life they have. Therefore, healthcare jobs in hospice drive to the core of the nursing profession by creating an impact on the lives of others during those vulnerable moments.

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Blog published on:
November 20, 2022

Meet Jeremy, a contributing copywriter, editor, and publisher at Nursa who specializes in topics around licensing, clinician salaries, and per diem job locations.

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