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What Is a Home Care Nurse?

Home care nursing involves providing care to patients at their own home. Patients who need more than basic medical care, but who don't want or need to stay in the hospital, may use home health care. Read on to learn how you might become a home care nurse.

Home Care Nurse Job Description

In a home care nurse position, you're a registered nurse who travels to patients' homes to work. You'll perform general nursing duties, such as checking vital signs, administering medicine, dressing wounds, and checking the general health of a patient. You'll usually follow the direct orders of a doctor when administering care.

Patients you may care for include people who have just been released from the hospital and need follow-up care, individuals recuperating from surgery or injury, patients with chronic illnesses, or individuals who require medical attention and don't need to be admitted to the hospital. While you may have a regular schedule, you may be on-call, which means you will see patients when they need you or when an emergency arises.

Important Facts About Home Care Nurses

Median Pay (2019) $26.26 per hour*
Required Education Associate's degree
Key Skills Attention to detail, critical thinking, physical stamina, organization, clear communication, emotional stability, empathetic
Similar Occupations Physicians assistants, EMTs and paramedics, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (for all registered nurses)**

Sources: *PayScale.com, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Preparation

To become a home care nurse, you need to become a registered nurse. Each state sets its own requirements for licensing, but generally, you must complete an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses.

You may complete an associate or bachelor's degree program in nursing to meet licensing requirements. Programs may take 2-4 years to complete. They generally involve classroom work and clinical work that allows you to gain hands-on experience. You may want to complete a bachelor's program if you would like to advance your education.

Generally, nurses looking to advance in their careers require a master's degree. You may complete a master's degree program in community or public health that is designed for home health nurses. A graduate-level education is not typically required to become a home care nurse, but getting the extra training through a master's degree program may allow you to find a position more easily because you'll have documented training in home health care.

Certification

Certification is not usually required, but it can help you to prove your experience. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers certifications in a variety of fields. These certifications usually require experience and training in the specialty field. The ANCC doesn't offer certification for home health nurses, but it does offer certification in related fields, such as public health. You can also become a member of the Home Health Nurses Association (HHNA), which offers professional resources and networking opportunities for home health nurses.