What is home health nursing? Home health nursing. involves traveling to patients' homes to provide healthcare services in private settings. Home health nurses often work with elderly or disabled patients, and those recovering from serious. conditions. In addition to healthcare, home health nurses provide patient and family caregiver education.
If you’re thinking about switching careers to nursing, you should take some time to examine the many specialty areas you could pursue. A nurse’s specialization can be defined by medical condition (e.g., oncology) or patient population (e.g., pediatrics). Or it may be based on workplace setting, such as home health nursing.
What is home health nursing? You’ll learn all about it here, along with how to become a home health nurse. For those looking for a career change, becoming a nurse can begin at Northeastern University. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program allows qualified applicants to earn a nursing degree in as few as 16 months. No prior healthcare experience or education is needed.
Home Health Nurses Work Outside of Hospitals
Many registered nurses (RNs) work in hospitals or outpatient physicians’ offices. Home health nurses work directly in their patients’ homes. While working for a home health agency, a home health nurse travels to patients’ homes throughout the day, providing one-on-one care.
Patients who need home health services are often elderly, disabled, critically ill or at the end of their life. Others were discharged from the hospital after suffering a serious injury or illness and are completing their recovery in the comfort of their own home.
Home health nursing offers a unique opportunity to get to know your patients on a deeper, more personal level. You’ll do more than take vital signs and administer medications; you’ll also offer a compassionate ear. In addition, this nursing specialty provides RNs with greater autonomy and more flexible scheduling.
Daily Responsibilities of a Home Health Nurse
Let’s take a closer look at the question, “What is home health nursing?” by exploring the typical job responsibilities. Although protocols may vary from employer to employer, a home health nurse will report to their agency at the start of each shift, typically remotely via phone or tablet. They’ll receive their daily assignments (if they have not already), call patients to schedule, and then begin visiting patients in their homes.
Individual patients require varying types of care. In general, however, home health nurses may perform any of the following skills:
- Evaluate patients’ progress, assess symptoms, and record observations
- Take vital signs
- Develop a personalized care plan and coordinate healthcare services among different providers and clinicians
- Evaluate patients’ responses to medications and other treatments
- Provide wound care
- Draw labs
- Administer intravenous infusions and other medications
- Assist with the activities of daily living (ADLs) and patient mobility
In addition, patient and family caregiver education is a significant component of home health nursing. Since you care for your patients in their homes, you may interact with their family members far more often than in a hospital. You must help patients and family members understand the diagnosis and treatment plan and teach caregivers how to care for their loved ones.
Did you know that some nurses can work remotely? Learn about 5 remote nursing careers and get career tips here.
How to Become a Home Health Nurse in 4 Steps
Home health nursing can be a rewarding career, offering more flexibility and autonomy than you’d find as an RN caring for inpatients in a hospital. There are four main steps toward pursuing a career as a home health nurse.
1. Earn Your BSN
First, you’ll need to earn your nursing degree. If you have prior non-nursing college education, you may qualify for the ABSN program at Northeastern University. The ABSN program confers a baccalaureate nursing degree, but instead of four years, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as 16 months.
During the program, you’ll take a blend of online coursework and nursing skills and simulation labs. The coursework teaches nursing theory and concepts, while the labs allow you to develop nursing skills and learn to identify appropriate responses to various clinical situations. You will also complete multiple clinical rotations, where you’ll be placed in healthcare settings to provide direct patient care under supervision.
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN and Obtain Licensure
After earning your nursing degree, you’ll be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). All aspiring nurses must pass this exam to apply for and obtain state licensure. The NCLEX is challenging, but passing it depends more on your ability to form appropriate clinical responses than rote memorization. Still, you should expect to spend much of your free time studying for the NCLEX and begin preparing for it shortly after starting the ABSN program.
3. Gain Clinical Experience
Home health agencies and hospital departments that send visiting nurses to patients’ homes often require job applicants to have some clinical work experience. Plan on working in a hospital setting as an RN for about two years or longer before you can apply to a home health nursing job.
Gaining work experience will allow you to refine your clinical skills. You’ll also improve the other skills needed for home health nursing, including:
- Interpersonal skills
- Initiative and accountability
- Communication skills
- Patience and adaptability
4. Apply to a Home Health Nursing Agency
You’ll be ready to apply to a home health agency or hospital’s visiting nurse unit once you meet their eligibility requirements. It’s always a good idea to look for ways to set your resume apart from other applicants. Consider pursuing voluntary certifications for your specialty area, such as Gerontological Nursing Certification (GERO-BC) or Certified Wound Care Nurse (CWCN).
There are many different types of nurses besides home health nurses. Learn about other types of nurses here.
Home Health Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
The average home health nurse salary will vary depending on the employer, an RN’s years of experience and other factors. In general, however, you can expect solid earning potential if you choose to become a home health nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health nurses made an annual mean wage of $82,920 as of May 2022.
The BLS doesn’t track statistics for the job outlook for home health nurses specifically. However, the job growth for all types of RNs is expected to be 6% from 2022 through 2032, faster than average, according to the BLS. This indicates that healthcare employers will likely hire about 195,400 new RNs during this period.
In addition, the home health nursing industry as a whole is expected to continue to grow. In 2021, the industry was valued at $88.5 billion. By 2029, it’s projected to expand to about $153.19 billion. This significant growth is due to several factors, including the rapidly aging population in the U.S. (elderly individuals are more likely to use home health services) and the cost-effectiveness of convalescing at home instead of in hospitals.
Additionally, advanced healthcare technologies used in private homes make home healthcare more accessible to those with varying medical conditions.
In short, now that you know how to become a home health nurse, the growth of the industry and the salary potential may prove quite attractive.
Still trying to decide if nursing is right for you? Check out these 5 reasons to make a career change to nursing.
Begin Working Toward a Nursing Career at Northeastern
At Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, you could earn your BSN in as few as 16 months. Our ABSN program offers two convenient locations near Boston, MA, and Charlotte, NC. Whether you choose home health nursing or another specialty, your future career provides the chance to make a difference in your community.
Contact one of our friendly admissions counselors today to see if you meet the ABSN requirements.