Hospice Nursing Training Programs

Hospice nurses provide end-of-life care. Find out what type of nursing degree you'll need, and learn what additional training and professional certifications are important in this field. Schools offering Adult Health Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Training or Education Is Required?

A hospice nurse must initially be a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) or a registered nurse (RN). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the first step is to complete a nursing program that's been approved by the state and may be offered through a technical, vocational or community college. Here, you'll learn to provide nursing care such as taking a patient's vital signs, assisting with mobility and hygiene, and in some cases, starting intravenous lines. You'll also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to earn your required state license.

If you would like to provide hospice care as a registered nurse, you can pursue an LPN-to-RN program or enter an RN program directly, usually through either an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. An accelerated BSN program may be an option if you already have a degree in another field. Advanced nursing education options include a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in palliative care, which also prepares you for a nursing career in hospice and palliative care. All states require that registered nurses pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in order to practice.

Nursing programs, regardless of the level, typically require that you take basic classes such as anatomy, physiology and nursing care principles plus clinical rotations providing patient care under supervision. RN programs and higher may also include biology, psychology and theoretical classes. Some graduate-level programs may allow you to take classes online, but clinical components that have to be carried out in-person are still usually required.

Training/Degree Programs Certificate in licensed practical nursing; associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing
Job DutiesEmotional and physical support, communication with medical professionals
CertificationVoluntary, granted through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center
Continuing EducationGraduate certificates and continuing education courses available; some coursework available online

What Would I Do With This Training?

Hospice and palliative care nurses provide emotional, physical and spiritual care to patients who may be suffering from life-threatening illnesses or conditions. Hospice nurses also interact closely with other medical professionals as well as with the families of the patient and may be called upon to offer support during the patient's transition from life. This area of practice requires that you are compassionate, emotionally stable and able to work as part of a team.

Do I Need To Become Certified?

Hospice certification is voluntary and might not be required by employers. It is offered by the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center (HPCC). You must have a minimum number of years' experience providing hospice and palliative care to patients, and you must also pass an exam. The certifications are valid for four years before recertification is required.

Certification options, depending on your educational and professional credentials, include Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse, Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse, Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator.

What Continuing Education and Training Options Do I Have?

Once you're working in the hospice and palliative care field, you can obtain additional training by taking continuing education and professional development courses. Courses are available in person or online and may allow you to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for working in specialized hospice or palliative care settings with pediatric, oncology, geriatric or critical care patients. Course topics may cover subjects such as terminal dehydration, ethical end-of-life care, organ donation, relieving gastrointestinal symptoms or religious and cultural aspects of providing end-of-life care.

You could take classes as stand-alone learning opportunities or as part of conferences offered by professional organizations. You could even pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate in palliative care. Required courses may include a theoretical exploration of palliative education and care of patients and their families; sometimes, these courses feature a clinical component.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Loyola University New Orleans

    Loyola University New Orleans responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Loyola University New Orleans:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
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    Online Programs Available

  • Benedictine University

    Benedictine University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Benedictine University:

    • Master

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  • Widener University

    Widener University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Widener University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

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  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

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  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

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  • Sacred Heart University

    Sacred Heart University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Sacred Heart University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
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  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

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  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

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  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master

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  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    • Doctoral
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