Hospice and palliative care nurses are registered nurses who specialize in providing compassionate care for patients with life-threatening illnesses that may be terminal. Care goals focus on relieving symptoms, rather than curing disease, and ensuring the patient is kept as comfortable as possible. Working with terminally ill patients can be emotionally challenging, but it can also be the most rewarding career choice.
Hospice/Palliative Care Nurse Salary
According to 2020 PayScale salary data, palliative care nurses in staff positions earned an average salary of $76,500, while a hospice RN earned $66,873. In a 40-hour work week, this works out to about $1,471 weekly and $36.76 hourly for palliative nurses and $1,286 weekly and $32.15 hourly for hospice nurses.
Travel hospice/palliative care nurses can expect to earn more with an average gross weekly salary of $1,639 recorded by NurseFly in 2019. This salary includes taxed pay, but it may also include tax-free pay for housing and meal stipends when a travel nurse can claim a permanent tax home.
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Hospice Nurse FAQs
How Much Do Hospice Nurse Jobs Pay?
For jobs available on NurseFly as of Sunday, November 29th 2020, the average weekly pay for Hospice Nurse jobs is $2,069, but can pay up to $4,017 per week. In 2020, Hospice Nurses jobs on Nursefly paid a gross average weekly pay of $1,746 per week working an average of 36 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, and housing which add up to an average value of $1,199 per week.
- min - $1,427
- avg - $2,069
- max - $4,017
What does a Hospice/Palliative Care nurse do?
Hospice and palliative care nurses often work together. However, hospice nurses provide care and comfort for terminally ill patients, while palliative care nurses focus on symptom control for patients with life-threatening, potentially terminal, illnesses. Both types of nurses provide hands-on patient care to ensure comfort and quality of life.
The primary purpose of hospice and palliative care is to reduce or eliminate pain and other symptoms to create an environment that’s as free of discomfort as possible. They also provide emotional support to patients and their families, while educating everyone involved in various ways to manage symptoms and what to expect as symptoms progress. Other tasks may include:
Monitoring vitals to evaluate patients’ health
Helping patients adhere to medication schedules
Collaborating with patients’ family members and healthcare professionals
Assisting patients with mobility to encourage physical activity
Maintaining and monitoring medical equipment
Assisting with personal care needs
Helping families make end-of-life decisions
Offering bereavement support when illness results in death
How to become a Hospice/Palliative Care Travel Nurse
It’s possible to become a hospice or palliative care nurse with an associate degree in nursing, but some employers prefer candidates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After completing a degree from an accredited nursing program, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam, complete state licensing requirements to obtain RN licensure, and earn certifications in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support.
Earning the Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse credential through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center can help RNs advance their career in this specialty. Many travel hospice/palliative care nursing employers require one to two years of recent hospice experience.
Where do Hospice/Palliative Care nurses work?
Most acute care hospitals now have a full palliative care team and hospice is consulted and brought in if need be. Palliative care nurses may also work in acute care settings. Hospice care nurses may work in various settings, but hospice patients often prefer to receive care in their private homes when possible. Otherwise, hospice nurses may work in residential care institutions, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and residential hospice facilities.
What skills make a good Hospice/Palliative Care nurse?
Hospice and palliative nurses are extremely skilled at pain management because it can be a fine line between alleviating pain and over-sedating a patient. They’re also skilled at recognizing and managing various other symptoms, such as dyspnea, anorexia, fatigue, delirium, nausea, and constipation. Skills in symptoms recognition and management should extend to emotional symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and fear.
Strong communication skills are the most important soft skills of good hospice and palliative care nurses. They especially need compassionate listening skills so patients can vent their uncertainties. Good written and oral communication skills also ensure information about treatment options and prognosis is accurately passed along.