How to Become a Home Health Nurse

Home Health Nurses provide specialized care to patients at home after they have been discharged from a hospital, clinic or other type of medical facility. They work both with patients and their families to administer follow-up care after the treatment in hospital.
According to information provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 2.9 million registered nurses (RNs) in the country as of 2019. If you want to join their ranks in the coming years, then this piece is for you. It contains step-by-step guidance on how to become a Home Health Nurse in the US.

Should I Become a Home Health Nurse?

Education Required Diploma, Associate or Bachelor’s Degree
Major Requirement Nursing
License/Certification Required
Experience/Training Required
Key Skills Active Listening, Communication, Service Orientation, Problem Sensitivity, Medicine and Dentistry, Physical Fitness.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National $77,460 (Registered Nurses)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 12% (Registered Nurses)

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*NET Online

Home Health Nurses, also known as Home Care Nurses, need to be self-starters because the majority of their work hours are spent outside a designated health facility. They must also be able to manage their time efficiently and have strong communication skills to deal with people from diverse backgrounds. Working as a home health nurse can be physically demanding as it often requires moving, turning or lifting patients who cannot do so themselves.

Career Outlook

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for registered nurses (RNs) in the country will increase by 12% from 2018 to 2028. The rising demand for nursing services (to care specifically for patients dealing with arthritis, diabetes, obesity, etc.) and an ageing population will be the biggest drivers of this growth in employment opportunities.

Steps to Become a Home Health Nurse

Follow the steps outlined below to become a Home Health Nurse in the United States.

1. Earn a High School Diploma To enroll in a nursing education program, you must first complete a High School Diploma or the alternative GED (General Educational Development) Certificate.

2. Enroll in a Nursing Degree Program :To work as a Home Health Nurse, you need to pursue an education program that leads to one of the following careers.

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Becoming an LPN or an LVN has a relatively shorter educational route. You need to complete a state-approved and accredited nursing diploma or certificate program which lasts for about 1 year.
On the other hand, the following educational pathways are available for aspiring RNs.

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Diploma in Nursing

The 2-year Associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is the most common among students. On the other hand, the 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a lot more detail-oriented. Diploma programs for RNs are normally 2 to 3 years long.

3. Get Licensed :After completing the degree, you need to get licensed. RNs can do that by taking the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). For LPNs and LVNs, the relevant assessment is the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Passing these exams is mandatory to earn a license and work as a qualified nurse.

4. Gain Experience and Find Employment:Once you have your license, you can start finding employment as a Home Health Nurse. Employers often prefer to hire experienced people, especially those who have worked in critical care in the past. To that end, working in the intensive care unit or an emergency room of a hospital can give you the necessary exposure.

5. How Long Does It Take to Become a Home Health Nurse?:It depends on the chosen nursing education program. An Associate’s degree is 2 years long while a Bachelor’s degree takes 4 years. RN diplomas can take 2 to 3 years while LPN/LVN certificate programs usually last for 12 months.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Home Health Nurse?

Following are the requirements for becoming a Home Health Nurse.

  • Should be at least 18.
  • Be a legal US citizen.
  • Finished high school. A GED Certificate is also acceptable.
  • Complete a nursing degree/certificate/diploma.
  • Get licensed.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Home Health Nurse?

The latest records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Registered Nurses (RNs) took home $77,460 in annual mean salary in 2019.

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