Why Work in Hospice Care?
The thought of looking into someone’s eyes as they face the end can be daunting. On the other hand, watching a patient say their final goodbyes to friends and family in a comfortable and pain-free environment is one of the most rewarding experiences in the field of medicine.
Perhaps that’s why more and more nurses and their assistants are making the transition to palliative care. Reserved for the seriously ill, doctors resort to hospice care only when:
- Conventional medical care no longer provides hope of treatment.
- The patient has six months or less to live.
Unfortunately, many myths about end-of-life care persist. Given the misperceptions, it’s important to separate fact from fiction, and highlight a few of the reasons why so many choose to care for the terminally and chronically ill.
Hospice Care Is Rewarding
Common beliefs to the contrary, end-of-life care is neither morbid nor depressing. In fact, many hospice workers say it is intensely rewarding and surprisingly uplifting.
Furthermore, studies have revealed that patients who receive early palliative care not only survive longer than those who don’t, but also suffer less from depression.1
When caregivers provide comfort for chronically ill patients, they’re not fixating on death so much as honoring the final precious moments of life. They’re helping patients get through the pain and confusion of their illness, while standing side by side with loved ones to offer that last touch of human warmth and tenderness.
The healthcare system is increasingly overburdened, and much of those costs come from chronically ill and elderly patients.2 End-of-life care can save valuable money and resources, easing the burden on the entire network.3
As grim as it sounds, such a cost-effective option is vital in today’s healthcare landscape, and each hospice worker is critical to ensuring that every patient receives adequate care.
When you consider that 70% of Americans would prefer to die at home,4 and more than 80% of patients with chronic disease want to avoid hospitalization and intensive care,5 hospice care makes sense.
Comfort Care Is Personal
Dollars and cents are important, but they’re hardly the most significant reasons to choose palliative care. On the contrary, it’s the human dimension that offers the most compelling source of satisfaction.
In a medical industry that’s increasingly depersonalized, hospice service provides one of the last links with the more individualized care of the past.
When you work with the chronically ill, you’re not treating a disease so much as a unique human with distinctive physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. There is honor, dignity, and contentment in that, for both the patient and the caregiver.
Palliative Care Is Challenging
It may not be as fast-paced as hospital work, but palliative care can be just as challenging. Healthcare providers are no longer wracking their brains to keep a patient alive; they’re helping patients make the transition to dying.
The only job of a caregiver is to ease the patient’s physical and mental pain, and to help them live as comfortably as possible in the short time allotted to them. That mission carries with it a special set of challenges, burdens, and rewards. In particular, hospice nurses must:
- Bring a warm and positive attitude
- Have a great deal of patience
- Maintain good communication skills
- Be compassionate and accepting
- Be able to listen
Whether they work in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or someone’s home, nurses are always learning. Hospice care is no different. In addition to practicing basic medical skills, medical assistants learn a great deal about people and interpersonal communication.
They also gain a valuable sense of perspective. Death is a reality that everyone must face eventually. More than anything, hospice care teaches caretakers to appreciate the value of life, and to savor each and every moment.
About ABC Medical Training Programs in NYC
ABC Training Center offers a full range of medical assistant and nurse aid training programs, including home health aide classes in NYC and CNA programs in the Bronx.
- New England Journal of Medicine, cited by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
- CNN poll cited by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
- Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, cited by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.