How do I Become a Visiting Nurse?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Someone who wants to become a visiting nurse will need to receive training and certification as a nurse, and then to decide whether to work independently or for an agency or hospital. Visiting nurses are a very important part of the health care system, providing skilled nursing services to people at home. By using the services of a visiting nurse, people can be at home, rather than in the hospital, and a greater degree of independence can be achieved for patients who require skilled nursing services.

Visiting nurses will help patients within their homes and provide in-home care.
Visiting nurses will help patients within their homes and provide in-home care.

Training as a nurse requires attendance in nursing school. Nursing programs vary in length, depending on the end certification, such as Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). The program includes classroom work as well as clinical training with patients. Once trained, a nurse can pass a certification exam which admits him or her into practice as a nurse.

Visiting nurses need a high level of empathy.
Visiting nurses need a high level of empathy.

Often, someone who wants to become a visiting nurse starts out by working in a clinic or hospital to get experience. This can be valuable when applying for home health care positions, because employers and patients alike want to see evidence that a nurse has practice in a clinical environment. Other visiting nurses apply directly into agencies which place visiting nurses, and they may start out accompanying a skilled nurse and eventually taking on patients of their own.

Most visiting nurses work standard, eight-hour shifts.
Most visiting nurses work standard, eight-hour shifts.

For someone who wants to become a visiting nurse who intends to gain experience first, experience can also be used to establish connections. Some hospitals, for example, have a visiting nurse program and it may be easy to transfer into with some experience in the hospital. Likewise, hospitals may refer patients to programs run by private companies, in which case the hospital may recommend a nurse when he or she seeks a position there.

Visiting nurses may help with rehabilitative care.
Visiting nurses may help with rehabilitative care.

Another advantage to getting experience in clinical practice is that it allows someone who intends to become a visiting nurse to gain experience in a specialty, which can later be used to apply for specialty certification. Being a pediatric nurse or cardiac nurse can provide a nurse with skills which may be in depend for patients who want the option of receiving care at home.

Visiting nurses may help anemic people with blood transfusions.
Visiting nurses may help anemic people with blood transfusions.

In addition to pursuing placement with a home nursing agency, someone who wants to become a visiting nurse can also consider working independently or starting a new agency. This requires a significant outlay of cash, as the nurse needs supplies and also needs to purchase insurance. It can also take time to build up a network of patients who will provide a steady supply of work.

Visiting nurses might perform non-medical activities as well when caring for the elderly.
Visiting nurses might perform non-medical activities as well when caring for the elderly.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

SarahSon

I had a friend who was employed as a visiting nurse and she loved her job. She had worked many years at the hospital before this and was totally burned out from that job.

She went in to homes and took information and vitals for people who were applying for life insurance. Part of her duties involved taking blood pressure, drawing blood to send in and recording health information.

After working many years and long days at the hospital, this was refreshing for her. She was able to be around people, and still practice some of her nursing skills.

She spent a few hours every week in the office making phone calls and doing paperwork, but most of the time she was traveling around from house to house.

sunshined

My daughter worked part time as a home health nurse, which is the same thing as a visiting nurse, while she was getting more education.

This was the perfect solution for her as it kept her active in her field, but she was able to work part time as she also worked on her studies.

There were many times when she was given a choice of taking a particular job or not. Some of her jobs didn't require a whole lot of work, and she was mostly there just to make sure they were taking their medications, and following proper procedures.

She worked nights for awhile and most of these situations were not very stressful as they just needed someone there to monitor the patient during the night.

As many people would prefer to stay in their home if at all possible, I think the field of visiting nurses will continue to grow and provide job opportunities for many nurses.

bagley79

My cousin has had a few different nurse jobs, but currently works as a visiting nurse. She is employed by an independent agency and usually has one or two patients that she works with at one time.

Some of the jobs are much more demanding than others, but she likes being a visiting nurse more than working on the floor of a hospital. There is a little bit more freedom and less overall stress.

She knows if she gets in a situation that is over her head, she has people she can contact right away for help. I don't think she gets paid as much as she did before, but for her, the other benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

John57

I can see why visiting nurses would need hospital or clinical experience before becoming employed as a visiting nurse. From what I have seen, visiting nurses work alone, and you would want someone who had some years of experience under their belt.

If someone just graduated from nursing school, I don't see how they would have the experience needed to handle many of the situations by themselves.

My mom had a visiting nurse visit her a few times a week when she was still living in her own home. This nurse had many years of experience and this enabled my mom to stay in her home longer than she would have without her assistance.

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