A palliative care nurse is a health care provider who treats and counsels patients who are dying from incurable diseases. Nurses collaborate with doctors and other medical professionals to diagnose, treat, and care for patients with terminal illnesses. They provide information, counseling, and support to patients and their families in order to help them cope with extremely difficult circumstances. An experienced palliative care nurse may also conduct research on terminal diseases and advanced care practices, develop new patient care policies, advocate for public awareness, and teach nursing courses at hospitals and colleges.
Patients with incurable diseases often struggle to find the strength and hope they need to enjoy their final days. A palliative care nurse’s job is to make sure that such patients get the best possible treatment for their pain and symptoms. Professionals frequently form close bonds with their patients, offering advice, empathy, and friendship when they are most in need. Nursing is a physically and emotionally demanding profession, and nurses must be able to deal with loss and tragedy on a regular basis.
Palliative care nurses meet with friends and family members to help them cope with the situation and discuss end-of-life treatment options, in addition to providing direct care to patients. Many nurses conduct research in order to develop new public policies and determine the most effective ways to deliver palliative care. Professionals frequently participate in hospital or community discussions to present their findings and make recommendations for procedure improvements.
To become a nurse practitioner, a prospective palliative care nurse must typically complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing and a two-year master’s program. To gain practical experience and prepare for their eventual careers in palliative care, most new nurses intern for at least one year in an emergency room or hospital setting. To become a certified palliative care nurse, candidates must typically pass extensive written exams administered a nationally recognized organization. The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association in the United States offers certification (HPNA). Most other countries rely on organizations like the HPNA to ensure that job candidates are adequately prepared.
The majority of palliative care nurses work approximately 40 hours per week, though their schedules are rarely predictable. The hours and days that a palliative care nurse works are determined the health of the patients he or she is caring for. When a patient is nearing the end of life, a nurse may be required to work weekends, overnight shifts, or double shifts in order to provide continuous care. Following the death of a loved one, many nurses continue to meet with family members to offer encouragement and emotional support.