No matter their specialty, nurses are some of the most wonderful people to walk the earth. The combination of proficiency, professionalism, focus, and heart that goes into being a nurse is what makes the role such a highly regarded position by patients, families, and other medical support staff. There is one kind of nurse, however, that is arguably different than any other variety of nurse—the hospice nurse. While we’re not attempting to say that hospice nurses are better than other types of nurses, the role does require a very unique kind of person. In this piece, we’re going to look at some of the reasons why hospice nurses are such a special subset of professionals within the nursing profession.
Hospice Nurses Have an Adaptive Pace
To say that hospice care centers differ from other healthcare establishments is an understatement. Where the goals of most hospitals and clinics are to help restore the patient back to health as quickly as possible, hospice aims to provide the maximum amount of comfort as to patients and assist them through the dying process. Because of this, the daily pace of a hospice nurse differs significantly from other healthcare professionals. A hospice nurse’s pace must mirror the pace of the patient. Determining this pace is a unique skill that experienced hospice nurses develop over time.
Communication With Patient Families
While nurses across the medical field must be master communicators, hospice nurses have the immense task of communicating the particulars of a hospice patient’s status with family members. Family members of hospice patients are justifiably emotional and in need of answers. Choosing the right words to deliver certain pieces of information accurately, yet not harsh, is a skill less taught and more developed with years in hospice care. To make matters more difficult, hospice nurses are frequently asked point-blank questions about a patients’ life expectancy and other variables. In many of these instances, there are no precise answers to deliver, but the proper feedback must be given regardless.
Hospice Nurses Are Champion Listeners
In addition to caring for the physical needs of hospice patients, hospice nurses have a unique superpower—listening. There may be times when hospice nurses have no answers for patients or family members alike. What they will have to give is a caring ear. The slower pace of hospice care allows nurses the unique opportunity to lend an ear and help shoulder emotions from patients and loved ones alike.
Hospices Have to be Tough
Being a hospice nurse isn’t easy. One would think that they would have to remain in a bubble to keep from growing emotionally attached to a patient in the dying process. While this would be a safer way to work, they don’t—they allow themselves to be vulnerable and fully embrace their patients as people deserving of such respect. While this is understandably painful for them, they understand that being vulnerable is the only way to deliver the level of care necessary for their patients. Though they may shed a tear along with loved ones, they can return to work to the next day knowing that they gave their all in helping their patient navigate the dying process. Many attempt to be hospice nurses, but can’t handle the constant loss that comes with the job. While this is unfortunate, it means that those who remain are truly giving their all.