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Career Story: Registered Visiting Nurse

Registered Visiting Nurse

Job Title: Registered Nurse-Homecare

Type of Company: I work for a homecare agency based out of the area's hospital.

Education: AS, Early Childhood Education, Becker Junior College •• AS, Nursing, Three River Community College

Previous Experience: I was a certified nurse's assistant at a nursing home several years prior to returning to school to become a nurse. I became a homecare nurse right after graduating from nursing school.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility as a homecare, or visiting, nurse is to care for sick or injured people in their homes. These people are stable enough to have been discharged from the hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center, but need ongoing nursing care to assure they continue to improve or heal in their home setting.

One of a visiting nurse's biggest responsibilities is case management. It's not unusual for me to have 20-30 patients I'm in charge of. I have to look at each of them and determine what kind of care they'll need to improve or remain safe at home. One of the things I can arrange for is physical therapy, where the therapist visits the patient and helps the him exercise muscles that were weakened by illness or injury. I can have a home health aide visit the patient to help her shower or bathe until she's capable of doing it on her own. I can have a medical social worker assist her to find ongoing services: a homemaker or companion for long-term assistance after nursing services is complete.

One of my main goals is to try to improve patients' health and well-being while keeping them from having to go back to the hospital. Another major part of my job is teaching people how to care for themselves and avoid re-hospitalization. I also do smoking-cessation training, and train people in diet and exercise so their cardiac status improves, or how to test for and control their diabetes.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are getting to know so many different types of people, working with a wonderful group of nurses whose goals are much like my own, and knowing that I am making a difference in somebody else's life.

The worst part of my job is when I think about all of my patients and wondering how they're doing while I'm on vacation!

Job Tips: If you are considering a career in nursing, start early, before you have children if possible. Nursing school takes up a lot of time and although I started it when I was 36 and had 2 small children I found it very hard to juggle school and children. However, if you already have a family, don't worry; it can be done!

Additional Thoughts: Although I chose to start my nursing career in homecare, there are lots of different kinds of nursing that you can pursue. Homecare worked for me because of the flexible schedule. Once my children are older I may pursue a job in labor and delivery or the operating room, or even the Emergency Room! There is no end to the possibilities. If you continue your education you can even become a nursing instructor.

Nursing is a career that will always be needed and, as older nurses retire, there will be plenty of opportunities for new nurses to step in and help those in need!

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