Home Health Nurse: In-Demand Specialty for Travel Nursing Jobs
Home health nurses make it possible for patients to receive the care they need in their own homes.
The demand for home care has grown dramatically over the last several years, partly because of the aging of the population and partly because of the increased recognition that serving patients outside of the hospital and in the home environment is both cost-effective and conducive to better outcomes.
These unique abilities are highly valued and will become more so in the face of the national nursing shortage. The more challenges home health agencies, hospitals and nursing facilities have filling openings for these essential nursing professionals, the greater the need for travel home health nurses will become.
What is a Home Health Nurse?
As the name suggests, home health nurses provide care in patient’s homes, usually following discharge from a hospital or other medical facility.
Home health nurses provide patient care to all kinds of patients with all kinds of medical needs. They may work with geriatric patients or premature infants. They frequently follow up on mothers and infants post-partum, post-surgical patients and patients who need preventive education in order to minimize the need for future hospital visits.
Home health nurses work independently and provide care to all kinds of patients with all kinds of medical needs.
No specific education is required for home health specialization. Still, home health nurses need excellent communication skills, empathy and the ability to work autonomously. Home health nurses need to be confident making decisions, as they work without the benefit of other healthcare professionals or equipment readily available.
Home health nurses are generally affiliated with specific health care facilities that assign them to a list of cases. They spend their working hours driving to patient homes to fulfill a plan of care assigned by a physician.
Home health nurse responsibilities often include:
- Physical assessments of patient needs and progress
- Administering medications, including intravenous infusions
- Taking vital signs
- Assisting with activities of daily living
- Working with the patient and their caregivers
- Overseeing other home care professionals
- Developing a care plan with physicians
The job descriptions for home health care nursing vary based upon the individual nurse’s credentials. At the highest level of education and training, a home health nurse can become a home health clinical nurse specialist. This requires a Master’s of Science degree in Nursing (MSN). Home health nurses can also be Registered Nurses, Licensed Vocational Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, or Certified Nurse Assistants.
Home Health Nurse Salary and Job Growth Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a home health care nurse is $75,870.
Compensation will vary based on numerous factors, including years of experience, education, region and type of care facility.
The average annual salary for a home health nurse is $75,870.
Home health can expect plenty of job growth over the course of their nursing career. While there is already a national nursing shortage driving demand for nurses to all-time highs, the need for home health nurses is expected to be more acute than in any other specialty. That’s because of the combined factors of an aging population, increasing prevalence of chronic disease, and longer life spans. The U.S. Department of Labor projected that the need for registered nurses in home health care would exceed that of nurses in hospitals by more than 15%.
When you combine these statistics with the fact that home health nurses generally require years of experience, it is clear that home health nurses can expect they will continue to be well compensated and valued.
Top Paying Cities for Home Health Nurses in 202
Home health nurse positions are available in locations ranging from major metropolitan cities to rural areas experiencing a significant shortage of healthcare providers. The care these nurses provide makes a real difference to the communities they serve.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, here are the best paying cities for home health nurses in 2021:
- Lakes, AK: $93,803 per year
- San Francisco, CA: $93,040 per year
- Santa Clara, CA: $92,253 per year
- Washington, DC: $91,155 per year
- Los Angeles, CA: $90,159 per year
Home Health Nurse Education Requirements, Certifications, and Professional Groups
Home health nurses may be Registered Nurses, Licensed Vocational Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses, or Certified Nursing Assistants. Each has its own educational requirements, as follows:
- Registered Nurses must earn either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and pass the NCLEX exam in order to be licensed. They can also choose to pursue an advanced practice nursing degree by earning a Master’s of Science degree in Nursing (MSN).
- Licensed Vocational Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses must graduate from accredited nursing programs and pass a licensure exam.
- Certified Nursing Assistants cannot dispense medication and do not require licensure.
Though no specific certification is available for home health nursing, there are special professional home health nurse organizations that can provide additional educational resources to help home health nurses improve their skills. These include:
- National Association for Home Care & Hospice
- Leading Age
- International Home Care Nurses Organization
The Pros and Cons of Home Health Nursing
Pros of Home Health Nursing
- With home health care nursing positions expected to grow at a rate of 15%, the career offers significant job security.
- Working in home health requires a significant amount of independence and autonomy that not every clinician possesses.
- Working in home health offers scheduling flexibility and the ability to control your own work hours.
Cons of Home Health Nursing
- Home health nursing requires much more time to be spent on record-keeping and documentation.
- Home health nurses have the opportunity to establish personal relationships with their patients and their patients’ families in the environment in which they feel most comfortable.
- Working in people’s homes may expose you to environments and interactions that make you feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe.
Nursing as a Home Health Travel Nurse
One of the biggest rewards of being a home health nurse is the ability to work independently outside of a clinical setting. Home health nurses provide much-needed care in a way that allows real relationships to form between patient and caregiver.
The type of independent, dynamic nursing professionals who crave this more personal one-on-one nursing experience also tend to enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people. That makes travel nursing a natural choice for home health nursing professionals.
The type of independent, dynamic nursing professionals who choose home health nursing also tend to enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people.
Travel nurses enjoy many unique benefits, including salaries that are significantly higher than what they would make in a traditional work setting, plus additional perks including guaranteed hours for each assignment, overtime pay, sign-on and referral bonuses, and daily allowances for meals and incidentals. Travel nurses are frequently entitled to additional benefits including housing stipends, tuition assistance, and the ability to enroll in 401(k) retirement plans.
Enjoy all the benefits of home health nursing while enjoying the ability to see the country and providing invaluable care for their patients.