The Five Best Things about Being a Hospice Nurse
By Myla Weakland, RN, BSN, CHPN, Senior Director of Hospice
In the nearly five years that I have been working in hospice I can’t begin to count how many times someone has said to me “How do you do it?” or “It takes a special person to do that kind of work” or “I could never work in hospice. That must be so sad!” I have served in various nursing roles during my time at Midland including on-call, admissions, team coordinator, and now as the director. I could go on and on about why I love what I do, but I will sum it up with the five best things.
1. Getting to know the patient and their family.
There aren’t many nursing jobs where you are able to see the same patient for weeks, months, and sometimes even years and have the opportunity to build relationships with them and their family. You get the chance to sit down and visit with them, hear to their stories, and get to know them as a person, and not just as a diagnosis.
2. Providing education and reassurance.
So much of what we do in hospice is providing education to patients and their caregivers. We aren’t always going to be there in the home around-the-clock, so our job is to teach and instill confidence. It’s so rewarding when you’ve spent time providing education about end-of-life care, symptom management, and day-to-day cares and you can tell when it clicks and all comes together for the caregiver. I love being a teacher!
3. Being more than just a nurse.
In hospice, you have to accept that sometimes discipline boundaries are going to be blurred. You may find yourself providing support or a listening ear when a patient has just received bad news. You could be helping a family work through a conflict or helping a patient with advanced directives. It’s not uncommon for families to ask you to pray with them. What I love most about this aspect of the job is that every day there are new challenges and you can never stop learning and growing as a nursing professional.
4. The team.
In hospice you will frequently hear the term “IDT”, which stands for interdisciplinary team. We have an amazing team of dedicated providers, nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, volunteers, and bereavement counselors that all come together to surround the patient and family with all aspects of care. Everyone has a voice and plays an equal part in the patient’s care. The collaboration and support amongst the team is remarkable.
5. Making a difference.
Hearing a family member say “We couldn’t have done this without you” or “You were a godsend” makes all of the hard work worth it. This profession isn’t easy by any means, but being able to guide and support people through what is often the most difficult time of their life is beyond fulfilling. It makes what I do more than just a job.