How to Become a Certified Hospice Nurse Aide

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Nurses aides assist the nursing staff with patient care. They may check vital signs, assist with minor procedures, give baths and assist patients with personal care. Responsibilities may vary depending on the place of employment. Nurses aides work with various types of patients, including hospice patients. Because the physical and emotional needs of a hospice patient may differ from other patients, special training may be needed to become a hospice nurses aide.

Go through a program to become a certified nurses aide. Be aware there is not a specific educational program to become a hospice nurses aide. Program length varies, but it usually takes a few months to complete the classes and become a certified nurses aide. Classes can be found at community colleges, hospitals and adult education centers.

Learn how to give sponge baths, change dressings, lift patients properly and do blood sugar checks. These are some of the responsibilities a nurses aide may have when working with hospice patients. Keep in mind job duties may vary slightly depending on where you work.

Apply for jobs. Hospice nurses aids may be hired by home health companies, private individuals, nursing homes and hospice centers and hospitals.

Become certified through the National Board for Certification of Palliative and Hospice Nursing. To obtain the certification, an applicant must have graduated from a nurses aide class and have completed 2,000 hours of work as a nurses aide. The candidate is than eligible to take an exam. Once the exam is passed and all work experience is verified, the certification is awarded.

Take a class on death and dying. Hospice patients are not only dealing with physical issues, but emotional and spiritual issues surrounding end of life. Taking a class on death and dying will help you understand how to work efficiently and be a comfort to patients nearing the end of life. Although it is not necessary for certification, it will help you better understand your patients.

Join the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association. This organization promotes the field of hospice nursing. Information on careers for hospice nurses aides may be found. Membership includes discounts on certification exams and a subscription to nursing journals.

Work with a patient's families to help teach them how to care for a loved one. Education may be a part of the responsibility of the hospice nurses aide. For example many hospice patients may wish to leave a hospital and spend their final days at home. They may still require care, which a family member may be able to do. A hospice nurses aide may teach family members how to change a dressing, give oxygen and take vital signs.


Find ways to deal with your emotional stress and prevent burnout. Working with hospice patients can be draining. Dealing with patient deaths on a regular basis can be stressful. Find ways to deal with your own emotions to stay healthy, both physically and emotionally.

About the Author

MaryAnn DePietro has been a professional journalist since 2000, specializing in health, fitness and medical articles. She is also a certified respiratory therapist. Her work has appeared on websites such as eHow and ModernMom and in publications including the “Sacramento Bee, “Press Tribune“ and “Succeed.” DePietro holds a Bachelor of Science in rehabilitation from Penn State University and a degree in respiratory therapy.

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