- A palliative care nurse focuses on pain management and improving quality of life care for patients.
- Salaries for palliative care nursing depend largely on education, experience and certification.
- Those in the nursing field may choose to specialize in palliative care.
People rely on healthcare not just to stay alive longer but to improve their quality of life. A palliative care nurse treats patients with the primary aim of providing pain management and improving quality of life for patients.
Palliative care nurses may work with the terminally ill to manage pain and other uncomfortable symptoms caused by the progression of their disease. They may also work with patients who can be cured through treatments to make their experience more comfortable. Here are some specialties to consider if you're interested in a palliative care nurse job.
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Ready to start your journey?
How to Become a Palliative Care Nurse
Are you ready to pursue a career in palliative care nursing? Here's what the roadmap for palliative care nursing looks like:
- Obtain an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and complete coursework in palliative care.
- Complete the NCLEX-RN certification and any required state certification.
- Complete the relevant palliative care certification from the Hospice and Palliative Care Credentialing Center (HPCC) for your desired role.
A bachelor's degree is not required to work as an entry-level palliative nursing assistant or licensed practicing nurse (LPN). Those interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN) or an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) will need an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing to qualify for the NCLEX exam.
Higher paying roles in palliative care nursing, like ARNPs, require previous experience and master's degree or higher in nursing. These programs usually take 2-3 years to complete. Those interested in these roles can start getting experience by starting at an entry-level position or by completing an internship. Those with experience working with the terminally or chronically ill can go on to work in palliative care nursing.
5 Types of Palliative Care Nursing Specialities
Home Health Nurse
- Average Annual Salary: $66,000
- Job Outlook: 33%
- Licenses/Certifications: NCLEX-RN certification (optional)
A home health nurse provides curative and palliative care to patients in their own homes or in assisted living facilities. They might dispense medicines, ensure that the patient's medical equipment is functioning properly, and ensure that the house meets safety standards.
They will supervise other at home health aides and coordinate with physicians and pharmacies to ensure the patient is receiving effective, compassionate care. A home health nurse might have several patients in their care at the same time. Those with managerial skills will be able to excel at this role.
Hospice Registered Nurse
- Average Annual Salary: $70,000
- Job Outlook: 9%
- Licenses/Certifications: NCLEX-RN certification, CPR certification
A hospice registered nurse works with patients in late stages of terminal illness. They will coordinate with the patient's team to create and implement a care plan. Hospice care workers may work or be on call during holidays. They may work in a hospital or in a patient's home.
Most hospice RN positions require you to have prior experience in geriatrics, hospice nursing, or as a professional nurse. Hospice nurses are expected to have knowledge of the hospice care program and their role in it.
Hospice Nurse Case Manager
Hospice nurse case managers manage patient care and ensure that proper procedures are being followed at all times. They record case-related information and create care plans. They must be proficient with basic office software and telephones to communicate with prospective patients, families, and other involved healthcare professionals.
Hospice nurse case managers should understand the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual or religious needs of terminally ill patients and their families. Those in this role should have communication and interpersonal skills to collaborate with team members and communicate with patients and their families.
- Average Annual Salary: $77,000
- Job Outlook: 9%
- Licenses/Certifications: NCLEX-RN certification, oncology nursing certification (optional)
Oncology nurses specialize in treating cancer patients. They may assist oncologists by providing treatment to inpatients or outpatients. They may administer chemotherapy and educate patients on what therapies can be used to manage pain, discomfort or side effects caused from cancer treatment. They may work with those who are terminally ill.
Those interested in working in this role need to be compassionate and able to handle high-stress environments. They also need to be physically strong enough to assist patients with mobility when needed.
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner With Pain Management Skills
- Average Annual Salary: $102,000
- Job Outlook: 45%
- Licenses/Certifications: ARNP certification, state license
ARNPs have more extensive training than RNs and therefore can perform functions beyond the scope of an RN. These include:
- Prescribing medication
- Administering physical therapy and exams
- Ordering tests and procedures for patients
They can complete physician-level duties without the physician being present. The ARNP is responsible for relaying information about patients to the physician. ARNPs with pain management skills might choose to work in certain medical fields like:
- Acute care
Palliative Care Nursing Salary
Salary expectations in this field vary depending on education and role. According to Payscale, the median salary for LPNs is $48,000 while the median salary for ARNPs is $101,000. By continuing education through completing certifications or post-secondary education, you can access higher paying jobs in palliative care nursing.
How to Find a Palliative Care Nursing Job
Wondering how to find a palliative care nursing job? There are a number of organizations that offer networking opportunities, memberships, and job postings specifically for those in the palliative care field. You can browse job postings for palliative care nursing at:
You can also demonstrate expertise by completing certifications offered by the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center HPCC. Over 14,500 health care professionals hold HPCC credentials. The certification demonstrates a commitment to professional development and continued education in the field as certificants will increase their knowledge of hospice and palliative care by seeking and maintaining certification.
Take advantage of the career services colleges offer to students and alumni. Many career centers offer remote services. You can also network remotely by attending online events and virtual career fairs.
Palliative Care Nursing Professional Organizations
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
HPNA offers resources to help professionals prepare for HPCC certification as well as membership and networking opportunities.
American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
AAHPM offers courses in the field as well as a membership program that gives you access to networking and advocacy opportunities.
Center to Advance Palliative Care
CAPC posts open positions in palliative care from across the US. They also host online events, training, and courses.
Frequently Asked Questions About Palliative Care Nursing Jobs
What is the highest paid palliative care nurse speciality?
ARNPs are the highest paid palliative care nurse specialty, with top earners making an average salary of $126,000, according to Payscale data from June 2022. Nurse practitioner jobs are projected to grow by 45%, over five times the average growth for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
ARNPs need an RN certification to pursue a masters in nursing. They will then need to pass a national nurse practitioner certification exam and complete any other licensure requirements for the state they wish to work. This career pathway is great for RNs who want to increase their earning potential and work more independently in healthcare settings.
What palliative care nursing speciality is the most popular?
According to the BLS, there are currently over 3 million registered nurse jobs. Because patients benefit from palliative care regardless of their age or whether their illness is curable, chronic, or life threatening, palliative care skills are valuable for most jobs in healthcare.
Those interested in palliative care nursing can choose to develop skills like pain management, bereavement, and geriatrics. RNs can also choose to specialize in a wide variety of fields where there is an acute need for palliative care. Some popular palliative care nurse specialties are oncology and hospice.
Can I become a palliative care nurse with an online degree?
Yes, you can become a palliative care nurse with an online degree. Accredited online degrees are just as credible as degrees earned through traditional instruction. When a program is accredited, a third party evaluates the program to see if it meets educational standards.
Online degree programs have their perks. They tend to be cheaper than traditional in-person programs and offer more flexibility for students. Considering how beneficial continuing education and experience can be in this field, you should consider taking advantage of online programs and certification exam preparation materials. Some palliative care nurses may even be able to complete an online master's degree in nursing while working full time.
How much money can I make as a palliative care nurse?
Your earning potential as a palliative care nurse depends on specialty, education level, certification, and experience. For instance, according to Payscale data from June 2022, an LPN can earn $33,000-$64,000. Later, LPNs could complete their RN certification and become a registered nurse. RNs have a salary range between $48,000-$95,000, according to Payscale.
ARNPs can earn anywhere between $86,000-$126,000 annually but need a master's degree in nursing. With continuing education and experience, palliative care nurses can increase their earning potential and be able to perform a wider variety of tasks independently in their workplace.
What is the fastest way to become a palliative care nurse?
Though continued education can open a variety of pathways in palliative care nursing, you can become a palliative care LPN by completing an LPN program. LPN programs typically take 12 months to complete, but some accelerated programs take as little as six months to complete.
Aspiring palliative care LPNs must also achieve a passing score on the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nurses exam (NCLEX-PN). LPNs can later pursue a bachelor's degree in nursing and pivot to an RN role.
Are there 5 forms of palliative care? ›
- Understand the options for palliative care. ...
- Hospital palliative nursing. ...
- Palliative care in a care home. ...
- Hospice day care. ...
- Palliative care at home.
Palliative care nurses need to be proficient at providing counselling, and understanding when a resident feels angry, or sad. They need to be empathetic and receptive to individuals' feelings and provide support during these difficult times.What is the role of a specialist palliative care nurse? ›
Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialists support patients and their families who are experiencing cancer and other life limiting illnesses. Palliative care clinical nurse specialists are registered nurses with specialist knowledge and qualifications in cancer and palliative care.What are the 3 main goals of palliative care? ›
- Relieve pain and other symptoms.
- Address your emotional and spiritual concerns, and those of your caregivers.
- Coordinate your care.
- Improve your quality of life during your illness.
- Pain management. Most terminal illnesses cause significant physical pain. ...
- Treating symptoms. ...
- Counselling and therapy. ...
- Assistance with living. ...
- Patient mobility. ...
- Connection. ...
- Understanding. ...
- Help for families and loved ones.
Pain and symptom management; Psychological, social, emotional, spiritual, and practical support; and. Support for caregivers during the illness and after the death of the person they are caring for.What are the 4 domains of palliative care? ›
Symptom control ▪ End of life care planning ▪ Physical needs ▪ Psychosocial needs ▪ Spiritual care needs What are the eligibility criteria for referral to specialist palliative care service ?What are the four aspects of palliative care? ›
- Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.
- Intends neither to hasten or postpone death.
- Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
Â The five priorities focus on: recognising that someone is dying; communicating sensitively with them and their family; involving them in decisions; supporting them and their family; and creating an individual plan of care that includes adequate nutrition and hydration.What Speciality is palliative care? ›
While other physicians focus on patients' general health or treating their disease or condition, palliative medicine physicians concentrate on preventing and alleviating suffering and improving quality of life.
Is palliative care a nursing specialty? ›
Nurses with a wide variety of care backgrounds can become palliative care nurses. Those who have experience with geriatric care and certain terminal diseases like late-stage cancer and heart disease are good candidates for this specialty.What are the roles and responsibilities of a palliative care? ›
Palliative care uses a team approach to support patients and their caregivers. This includes addressing practical needs and providing bereavement counselling. It offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.What are the 8 principles of palliative care? ›
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process.
- Neither hastens nor postpones death.
- Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
- Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of care.
- Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.
Respect the dignity and autonomy of patients, patients' surrogates, and caregivers. Honor the right of the competent patient or surrogate to choose among treatments, including those that may or may not prolong life.What is palliative care main focus? ›
Patients in palliative care may receive medical care for their symptoms, or palliative care, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness. Palliative care is meant to enhance a person's current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family.What are the five attributes of caring? ›
According to Roach (1993), who developed the Five Cs (Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Conscience and Commitment), knowledge, skills and experience make caring unique.Are there different levels of palliative care? ›
This type of medical life care consists of five different stages. Here's an in-depth explanation of each of the five stages so you or your loved one can better understand the role of palliative care.What are the 4 domains of palliative care? ›
Symptom control ▪ End of life care planning ▪ Physical needs ▪ Psychosocial needs ▪ Spiritual care needs What are the eligibility criteria for referral to specialist palliative care service ?What are examples of palliative care? ›
- Nutritional changes.
- Relaxation techniques.
- Emotional and spiritual support.
- Support for children or family caregivers.
It's a care type that's often misunderstood, with many believing that it's only suitable for those living with a late stage terminal illness. In fact, there are five stages of palliative care which can take place over a number of years, and understanding these can help you decide when and how to put care into place.
What is the difference between palliative care and end-of-life care? ›
Palliative care is available when you first learn you have a life-limiting (terminal) illness. You might be able to receive palliative care while you are still receiving other therapies to treat your condition. End of life care is a form of palliative care you receive when you're close to the end of life.What makes palliative care different from other care? ›
Palliative care helps people with a life-limiting illness to improve their quality of life and manage symptoms. Life-limiting illness means a condition, illness or disease that is progressive and cannot be cured. Palliative care is available to people of all ages and at any stage of their illness.What is Level 2 palliative? ›
Level 2: Provided in any location, using a palliative care approach by health care professionals who have additional knowledge of palliative care principles and use this as part of their role.What is palliative care main focus? ›
Patients in palliative care may receive medical care for their symptoms, or palliative care, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness. Palliative care is meant to enhance a person's current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family.What is the priority of palliative care? ›
In Palliative Care, Comfort Is the Top Priority.What is the focus of care in palliative care? ›
End of life and palliative care aims to help you if you have a life-limiting or life-threatening illness. The focus of this type of care is managing symptoms and providing comfort and assistance. This includes help with emotional and mental health, spiritual and social needs.How do you discuss palliative care with a patient? ›
- Make time. ...
- Make space. ...
- Turn off your cell phone and pager. ...
- Find out what the patient knows. ...
- Listen carefully to the patient's response. ...
- Discover the patient's goals.
Palliative care helps people manage physical symptoms and emotional stressors and focuses on patient's goals for care, values and what's important to them. It also aims to improve quality of life for both the patient and their family.What is the last breath before death called? ›
Gasping is a brainstem reflex; it is the last respiratory pattern prior to terminal apnoea. Gasping is also referred to as agonal respiration and the name is appropriate because the gasping respirations appear uncomfortable, causing concern that the patient is dyspnoeic and in agony.What are the five emotional stages of dying? ›
1. The stages of the Kubler-Ross theory include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
What are the 5 priorities of end-of-life care in England? ›
Â The five priorities focus on: recognising that someone is dying; communicating sensitively with them and their family; involving them in decisions; supporting them and their family; and creating an individual plan of care that includes adequate nutrition and hydration.