What Is a Home Health Nurse?

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What is a home health nurse and what does a home health nurse do? Home health nurses provide a range of healthcare services to patients in their own homes, such as wound care and self-care education. Some home health nurse qualifications include interpersonal skills and the ability to work independently.

nurse helping patient at home lift arms

Nursing is incredibly diverse and filled with opportunities and specialties to consider. If you decide to switch careers to healthcare, you have many options. One of those is home health nursing. What is a home health nurse, and what does a home health nurse do?

As the job title suggests, a home health nurse provides care to patients in their homes. You must meet the home health nurse qualifications, and you can begin at Concordia University Texas (CTX). Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track allows you to graduate in as few as 16 months.* You’ll graduate prepared to tackle the challenges of home health nursing.

What Is a Home Health Nurse, and Should You Become One?

So, what is home health nursing, exactly? Not all healthcare services are provided in a hospital or doctor’s office. Some patients have trouble getting to a doctor’s office to receive care. Instead, they may rely upon a home health agency. Nurses who work for a home health agency travel to patients’ homes to conduct assessments, administer infusions, and provide other nursing care the patients need.

If you decide to become a home health nurse, you’ll likely work with many elderly homebound patients who need extra care to stay out of the hospital. However, it isn’t just elderly patients who can benefit from home health nursing. You may provide care to critically ill or disabled individuals or patients recovering from surgery, a severe accident, or a significant injury.

Now that you can answer the question, “What is home health nursing?” you may wonder if it is your right career path. Only you can determine this, but consider the following:

  • Do you enjoy developing more profound, long-term working relationships with your patients?
  • Would you enjoy a nursing career that would take you to different locations daily?
  • Do you have excellent interpersonal and communication skills?
  • Are you prepared to take the initiative and work with autonomy? In other words, can you handle challenges independently without the benefit of other providers nearby?
  • Are you open-minded to patients’ diverse cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, home health nursing may be the right choice. Next, let’s look at the question, “What does a home health nurse do?”

school nurse helping child with band-aid

Still trying to figure out if switching careers is right for you? Check out these top 10 reasons to become a nurse!

What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

A home health nurse’s day-to-day tasks vary, depending on the needs of their patients. For example, a patient entering hospice because of lung cancer may need help setting up durable medical equipment, and their family caregivers may require a great deal of guidance. On the other hand, a patient recovering from surgery would likely need assistance with wound care and medication management.

A home health nurse will receive their assignment for the day and gather needed supplies if not already on hand. Then, they’ll travel to their patients’ homes, performing tasks such as:

  • Taking vital signs, conducting exams, and updating patient records
  • Administering injections and intravenous infusions
  • Providing wound care
  • Evaluating patients’ responses to their treatment plans and coordinating with physicians and other providers
  • Assisting with the activities of daily living (ADLs)
nurse entering patient's home

Pros and Cons of Home Health Nursing

Before deciding if home health nursing is right for you, it can be helpful to look at the pros and cons of home health nursing.

Some of the advantages of being a home health nurse include:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Independence and autonomy
  • Ability to care for a diverse patient population
  • Potential to develop rewarding relationships
  • The ability to work closely with patients’ family caregivers
  • The rewards of watching patients recover or make progress toward goals

Although there are certainly many advantages, there are also a few drawbacks. These can include:

  • You need to bring medical equipment and keep supplies organized
  • Unpredictable workplace environments
  • Lack of support from colleagues at patients’ homes
  • Extensive time spent traveling to case assignments

How to Become a Home Health Nurse

If you’ve decided that this career path could be right for you, it’s time to look closer at how to become a home health nurse. The typical home health nurse qualifications are as follows.

Earn a Nursing Degree

The first step toward meeting home health nurse qualifications is to go to nursing school. If you don’t have any prior college education, then a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) track is a good choice.

ABSN student in sim lab holding chart folder

If you do have prior college education in an area other than nursing, you may qualify for the ABSN track at CTX. One of our friendly admissions counselors will review your academic records to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements. The ABSN track allows you to graduate in as few as 16 months.*

You’ll start with nursing coursework, which you can complete online at Concordia Texas. The online coursework allows you to review the material as often as needed without worrying that you might miss important information during a lecture. You’ll also complete interactive learning activities.

In addition to the online coursework, you’ll attend in-person nursing skills and simulation labs to practice developing core nursing skills. You’ll put these into practice during clinical rotations (“clinicals”) at area healthcare facilities, where you’ll provide patient care under the supervision of an experienced nurse. Upon graduation, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

Obtain a Nursing License

The NCLEX-RN is the next necessary step in meeting home health nurse qualifications. This rigorous licensure exam requires you to understand nursing theories and concepts and be able to apply them appropriately in different clinical scenarios.

The NCLEX is an adaptive, computerized test that asks you to assess scenarios based on case studies and choose the most appropriate clinical responses. This format evaluates your critical thinking and decision-making abilities.

Once you pass the NCLEX, you can apply for your state-issued nursing license.

Gain Bedside Experience in a Healthcare Facility

After getting your nursing license, you can apply for your first nursing job. However, it’s best not to apply to a home health agency right away. Remember that home health nurses work with a great deal of autonomy. Nurses need extensive clinical experience at the bedside before they are ready to work independently in patients’ homes. It would be best if you planned on working at a hospital or other healthcare facility for a few years before applying to your first home health nursing job.

ctx nursing student helping a patient

While gaining clinical experience at the bedside, you can actively work on cultivating the following skills that may prove helpful in home health settings:

  • Patient and family caregiver education
  • Chronic disease/disability management
  • IV therapy
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Respect for patients’ differences in cultures, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and values
  • Interpersonal skills
Nurse with stethoscope in NICU

There are many great nursing careers to consider. Explore these top 21 nursing specialties you can pursue!

Start Your Journey Toward Nursing Today!

Now that you know how to become a home health nurse, are you ready to start? Concordia University Texas offers an accelerated pathway toward earning your nursing degree. You could earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months if eligible.*

Contact our admissions team today and connect with your dedicated admissions counselor, who will assist you through every step of the process.

*Upon successful completion of prerequisite courses.