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Nursing Careers: Home Health vs Hospital Jobs

May 17, 2015, 08:55 AM

There was a time when nursing was a profession relegated to nuns on the battlefields during wartime. But with the boom in hospital development and the advancement of modern nursing in the 19th Century, opportunities for Registered Nurses have dramatically changed for the better. Career options for nurses are endless, and while many are drawn to the hands-on, fast-paced nature of acute and critical care in a hospital setting, there are plenty of opportunities in home health care as well. As home care continues to grow as an industry and as a resource for the elderly and disabled, it might be the perfect time for you to consider a career in home health.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Ulrich Joho via flickr

Independence & Autonomy

Unlike in an acute care or hospital setting, home health care nurses primarily work closely with patients instead of with other health professionals, giving them a greater amount of independence. While part of an overall clinical “team” including therapists and home health aides that are responsible for the patient’s care and well-being, home health nurses work independently to assess the patient’s medical status and needs, report progress, and create a plan of care. This aspect of home health is appealing for the fearless, take-charge nurse who enjoys the responsibility of active involvement in a patient’s medical care.


Depending on the kind of role you wish to undertake, your hours as a home health will be far more flexible than at a hospital which general operates in fixed 12-hour shifts and rotations. Visiting home health nurses can see up to six or seven patients on a daily basis, in their homes, arranging their own schedules and handling their own transportation.

Meaningful Interaction

Because home health nurses are the principal medical provider for home care patients who are primarily elderly, but also sometimes newly discharged from a hospital or confined to surroundings due to chronic illness, each interaction is meaningful. In addition, it is you, not a physician, who works with the family to inform them of changes and progress. You’ll also be the one educating patients about their illnesses and necessary medications as well as discussing their changing needs.

Quiet & Chaos-Free Setting

Unless you’re the type of nurse who thrives in chaotic and fast-paced environments, the quiet of the home setting can be a huge benefit of home health. Many nurses who transition from acute care and hospital nursing to home health welcome the slower pace which allows for more focused attention.

Not Just Geriatrics

While about 80% of home care recipients are seniors, home health care extends to any individual suffering from debilitating illness, include those recently discharged from the hospital, individuals recovering from major surgery, and the disabled. You will have the opportunity to work with patients across a wide spectrum of medical need, or to specialize in a specific area of home health such as memory care, cardiology, or respiratory care.

Like any other job, home health care also poses its challenges to nursing professionals, but the rewards are immense and often outweigh those challenges. For self-motivated, outgoing RNs with confidence in their clinical skills, home care is an excellent career path that can improve not only your quality of life, but the patients whom you serve as well.

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