What is a Home Health Nurse?

Home Health NurseA home health nurse is a health care professional who provides critical medical services for patients at home. According to the federal governments’ Medicare website, home health care is actually less expensive and more efficient and convenient.

Who are Home Health Nurses?

Home health nurses provide critical care for patients in their homes. Most patients are elderly or disabled, but others are recovering from accidents or dealing with chronic illnesses. Home health nurses do basic things, such as bathing and dressing, but also perform specialized care, such IV therapy and medication administration. Some home health nurses only perform basic duties, but others are RNs who assess home environments and work with other health care specialists. Some home health nurses work with patients for many years, but others visit many different patients every day. Most home health nurses will document symptoms, take vital signs, clean wounds and monitor patient health and needs. Some RNs may supervise home health aides and coordinate between physicians and patients.

Home Health Nurse Education

The majority of home health nurses are RNs who have four-year degrees, such as the standard Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Some have a two-year associate degree in nursing with additional training. In order to become a home health nurse who provides clinical services, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree will be required. Most medical schools offer these MSN degrees through two-year accelerated programs. Upon graduation, students must obtain licensure to become Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) through their local state board of nursing.

Home Health Care Process

When some patients are discharged, they return home with complex paperwork, bottles of medication and serious health needs. Patients with certain conditions or limitations need help to fully recover and manage their health conditions. A few days after hospital discharge, home health nurses will visit the patient, perform a physical assessment and review the patient’s understanding of instructions, medications and treatments. Many patients need coaching and teaching in order to take care of themselves. During the first visit, these nurses assess mobility, competence and physical environments so they can provide adjustments, such as strategically placing throw rugs to prevent patients from tripping. They also create a plan that has goals and specific instructions. During every subsequent visit, assessments and progress are checked.

Job Requirements

Home health nurses must have impeccable writing skills, because they must continually create and maintain care plans, incident reports and formal emails to health care supervisors and professionals. They must be able to work independently without supervision while still following established policies and procedure related to patient safety and quality care. These nurses must have excellent time management skills because after they visit their daily patients, they must submit online reports in timely and accurate manners. This is very important for billing purposes and patient record accuracy. Interpersonal skills are needed because they must persuade physicians to continually review and sign off on progress notes and treatment plans. Because home health nurses travel so much, they must have excellent driver records.

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Being a home health nurse is a great career for those who enjoy traveling, meeting new people and working alone.