How to Become a Hospice Nurse: 5 Steps You Need To Know

how to become a hospice nurse

Working as a hospice nurse is one of the most rewarding jobs around. With hospice nursing, you will have the chance to take care of critical patients in the last moments of their lives.

Providing hospice care is focused on palliative care. You will provide support in ensuring that the patients will get the best comfort they need regardless of the stage of their disease.

Becoming a hospice nurse requires a unique set of qualifications and here are the five most important steps you need to know:

Step 1: Get Your Diploma

Before becoming a hospice nurse, the first thing you should do is to finish your degree and get your diploma.

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) is a common pathway but others are getting entry to the practice through an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) diploma.

The BSN program is different from the ASN program as it is a four-year academic degree in a tertiary education school or university. The ASN program, on the other hand, is a two to three-year nursing degree granted by nursing schools and community colleges. Both ASN and BSN diplomas are eligible for NCLEX-RN.

Step 2: Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)

After obtaining your diploma, you should get licensed as an RN by passing the NCLEX-RN.

Related Article: How To Pass The NCLEX-RN On First Try – 5 Tips Every Nurse Must Know

Just submit your application to the board of nursing where you wanted to be licensed. After that, you will get an Authorization to Test letter and you should use it in registering for the examination with Pearson VUE.

After passing the exam, you will get the license to practice as an RN.

Step 3: Obtain Experience

continuing education for nursing career

Hospice care facilities usually require experience in acute care nursing. This is needed as becoming a hospice nurse requires a lot of independent nursing actions and intensive care.

It will be great if you will have exposure to medical-surgical, geriatric and ICU nursing. Having one to two years of experience is usually required depending on hospice care facilities’ standards.

Step 4: Pass the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Certification Exam

There are some hospice care facilities that do not require the certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses but it would be best to get one even if you are already working in a hospice care facility.

You can get a certification from the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses in Pennsylvania. It’s the only board of nursing in the US that is recognized to certify hospice care nurses.

The board recommends that you must have a valid RN license and have at least two years of experience in hospice and palliative care nursing. After securing your application, you must pass the exam which consists of 150 itemized questions.

To know more about the eligibility criteria, fees, and online application, click here.

After passing the exam, the CHPN® credential will be given to you as your certification to becoming a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse.

Step 5: Work in Hospice Care Facilities

When you are a certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse, it will be easier to find work in hospice care facilities. The certification will allow you to become more knowledgeable in your chosen field of nursing. You will have more edge in getting the best options in hospice care jobs and you will be able to participate effectively in the interdisciplinary team caring for hospice patients.

Becoming a full-pledged hospice nurse doesn’t end at the Hospice and Palliative Nurses certification. Even if you are a certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse already, you should engage yourself in continuing education programs and professional activities related to hospice care. These activities will not only enrich your experience and competence in being a hospice nurse as they can be helpful in renewing your certification.

Renewal is required every four years through an exam or through the RN Hospice and Palliative Accrual for Recertification (RN HPAR). The RN HPAR will assimilate points for the continuing education program and professional activities you had related to hospice care so you can renew your certification without the need to take the test.

About the Author: Je Abarra is a nurse by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years. During her free time, she usually writes about her fascinations in health and nursing. She loves to provide tips and fun facts about nursing and healthy living. 

Also Read: 

Hospice Nurse Job Description – What Does A Hospice Nurse Do?
Hospice Nurse Salary – How Much Does A Hospice Nurse Make?
Hospice Care versus Palliative Care: What’s The Difference?
Hospice Nursing – Qualifications & Job Outlook