Description: RNs in this field provide care for patients in their own homes, such as those recovering from illness, an accident, or childbirth. This nurse visits a variety of acute and chronically ill patients who are "homebound" and in need of skilled nursing care under a treatment plan developed and signed by the patient's physician. The nurse may perform a wide range of tasks from collection of a laboratory specimen to changing a dressing to administration of chemotherapeutic agents. While the focus is typically on the patient, interaction with family members and community agencies often takes place. The average number of visits expected per eight-hour day is seven.
Job Outlook: Nursing as a whole will be one of the top 10 fastest growing professions in the U.S. in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home health care nursing will continue to grow at a rapid rate as patients' preferences for remaining in their own homes continue to mesh with economic imperatives: home health care is usually less expensive than hospital care.
Opportunities: Home health care provides the RN to practice in a one on one relationship with their patients and to use all of their generalized nursing knowledge to care for the whole person. Positions are usually quite flexible so there are hours available for nurses who wish to work full-time, part-time, and/or "on call."
Challenges: The autonomy of home health care practice is unique in the nursing profession and may be overwhelming for a nurse who prefers to practice always in team environment.