Home Nursing Skills Not Taught in the Classroom



Brittany R., RN, spoke during our recent graduation ceremony for Nurse Residents

Very few nursing schools actually teach “Home Nursing.” At least, that’s our conclusion after reviewing our Home Nursing Residency program for new graduate nurses. As homecare continues to grow, it’s essential to educate new nurses about what to expect in this expanding field of homecare. The realities of providing nursing care in the home environment can be surprising.

Last week, our Home Nursing Residency Manager, Brittany R., RN, spoke to a group of our employees about what our new graduates learned in their first year of nursing. This is what all home care nurses can expect to learn—whether you’re a new graduate nurse or a hospital nurse who is looking for a new opportunity!

It’s not as easy as it seems.

In Home Nursing, you have to be everyone: the nurse’s aide, mental health worker, massage therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, patient advocate, and yes, a nurse.

You have to be fast.

At the beginning, I was slow and would take my time to make sure everything was done the way I had learned in school. I found myself staying late after my shift to clean up and finish my charting. I learned quickly how to provide quality care without being “perfect.”

You’re always on a team.

Home Nursing can be isolating because you’re working by yourself. It’s important to remember you’re one member of a team. You’re on a team with the patient, the patient’s family, and even the patient’s physicians. You’re also on a team with the entire administrative office (clinical department, scheduling department, respiratory HME, etc.) and your fellow nurses. You are nothing without your fellow nurses! These are the people who mentor you, support you, and improve you every single day.

There are no stupid questions.

Ask anything. If you never ask, you’ll never know. If you don’t know something or are questioning yourself, just ask. And never apologize for asking questions!

This is a BIG responsibility.

This is a serious job and the consequences are very real! After all, your patient’s life is literally at risk if you choose to be anything but thorough and careful in every single action you take.

Own up to your mistakes and don’t cover them up!

Mistakes are impossible to avoid. As a new nurse, you’re going to make mistakes. But guess what? As an experienced nurse, you are still going to make mistakes. We’re all human and mistakes happen for all of us. The most important thing to keep in mind is to stay sharp and be honest and upfront when you notice an error—whether it is yours or someone else’s. It’s better to be re-educated and learn, rather than find someone else uncovering your mistakes.The last thing we want is for an error to result in a problem for the patient.

Embrace your style.

Every nurse has their own unique style. Figure out your style and embrace it. As long as you’re taking your job seriously, you’ll shine as a nurse because you’re being true to yourself.

There will be times you don’t like this job.

There are many times I haven’t liked my nursing job. Whether it was when I had to watch “My Little Pony” for the hundredth time or when one of my patients was taking out all of their frustrations on me. These are the times when you reflect back on why you became a nurse. Remember the “why,” and that will carry you through the toughest times.

Don’t follow the crowd.

There are a lot of practices, attitudes, and habits that you’ll be exposed to in nursing. Continue to jump over the bar, and never settle for mediocrity.

There’s nothing like experience.

Finally, nothing I’ve said above means anything without experiencing it firsthand. Your experiences are what shape you. You’ll be surprised at what you have accomplished over the first year of your career. It was demanding—and that is exactly the way it needed to be!

This talk was given by Brittany R., RN, during a recent Home Nursing Residency graduation ceremony. Brittany’s list was adapted from an article found on MightNurse.com by Kevin Pan on January 6, 2015.

Now it’s your turn: What other nursing skills would you add to this list?

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