Learn About Being a Home Health Nurse



What does a home health nurse do?

Home health nurses are skilled health care professionals who provide at-home, individual care for patients. These specialist nurses provide support to a range of patients and help them to maintain or improve their health. Patients may include people who have been discharged from a hospital following an injury, those with a chronic sickness, terminal illnesses, or disability. Patients may also be elderly or pregnant. The role is varied and depends on the specialty of the nurse. 

There responsibilities duties a home health nurse could perform, include:

Average salary

Home health nurse salaries fluctuate according to qualifications, experience and the employer. You will ordinarily be paid a stipend to cover your travel expenses. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

Home health nurse requirements

Home health nurses require a range of skills and qualifications. The following factors are the requirements for the role:


There are several options available to advance toward qualifying as a home health nurse. You may choose to become a registered nurse (RN), which means you will need at least an associate degree, although a bachelor’s degree may be more desirable to employers.

You can earn an associate nursing degree at a community college, vocational school or a specialized nursing school over two or three years of full-time study. There are three associate degrees available in nursing, the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) and the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN). Classes include health assessments, nursing skills, human biology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and medical law and ethics. If you choose a bachelor’s degree in nursing, this is a four-year course with more specialized classes.

Home health nurses can instead begin their career with an entry-level qualification that they gain by attending an accredited nursing education program. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits both licensed practical nurse (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurse (LVNs) programs offered in community colleges and vocational schools. You will need your high school diploma or GED equivalent to enroll. LPNs and LPNs essentially have the same qualifications but depend on your location. Most of these courses are one year in duration and cover nursing approaches, patient management, wound care and nursing specialties.


Your new employer will likely provide you with an orientation program that welcomes you and prepares you for the role. You might shadow a home health nurse as they visit their patients to learn about the procedures and necessary paperwork. You may also have workshops and classes based at the agency or hospital to train you on health and safety, risk management, values and objectives of the organization and infection control.


To work as a home health nurse, you must have the following license: 

National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)

Accredited by The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), this certification is a legal requisite. The exam consists mainly of multiple-choice questions with six hours to complete between 75 and 265 questions. The number of questions is determined by computer software as you complete the exam and it covers patient care and comfort, safety and infection control, risk reduction, physiological adaptation and pharmacology.

Earning other certifications can help you stand out as a professional in your field. You may choose to specialize as a nurse for specific disorders or particular age groups. Nursing careers and specializations are varied and include various certifications, such as:

Advanced Diabetes Management Certification

This certification is accredited by the ANCC, which also offers training materials. It is of interest to nurses of children and adults living with diabetes. You will have 3.5 hours to answer 175 questions.

Certified Breast Care Nurse

The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) offers this credential. You will need to take a three-hour-long examination and have 2,000 hours of nursing hours logged.

Certified Continence Care Nurse

This credential is available from the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board (WOCNCB). You must have 50 continuing education hours over the last five years and pass a 120 question four hour examination. 


If you are contemplating a career as a home health nurse, you will need to demonstrate a range of skills that include:

Organizational skills

You could be caring for multiple patients at any time who require different medication, care plans and management. Each patient must receive the care they need, and you must be able to manage your workload efficiently and effectively. 


Patients can be in delicate states, both physically and mentally. You must be able to reassure them and have empathy towards their situation. Both patients and their families need compassion and support.


Correctly recording patient and treatment information is vital as is being able to listen and relay information. You might need to pass care for your patient to another professional, and you’ll need all the necessary information explained and noted. Patient safety and comfort are maintained with excellent communication.

Attention to detail

Your patients rely on you following their care plans and medication dosages. You must be able to follow instructions precisely and take notes accurately. 

Home health nurse work environment

Home health nurses frequently work for a home health agency or the home health department of a hospital. Patients and home health nurses will be paired together depending on patient needs and the abilities of the nurse. The home health nurse travels to their patient’s home to administer care. The nurse depends on the needs of their patients. They may need to care for one patient for an entire shift, or they may travel to see several patients every day. There could be full-time or part-time hours, rotating shift patterns or working overnights. 

Home health nurses work directly with patients and their families for the majority of their working hours. You may have administrative tasks to complete, which may be done in a centralized office or your client’s home.

The job of a home health nurse could include the following environmental aspects:

How to become a home health nurse

Following these steps to start your career as a home health nurse:

1. Pursue education. 

Before you decide which course you should enroll in, you may find it helpful to review job listings for home health nurses in your state. They will provide you with an understanding of the level of education that employers look for. To start your career as an RN, you must earn an associate degree. However, an entry-level LPN position usually requires a high school diploma and an accredited nursing program.

2. Become licensed in your state.

You must complete this step to legally work in your state. 

3. Consider earning certifications. 

Depending on your employer, they may require certain certifications. When you are applying for jobs, you will likely be a more attractive candidate if you hold certifications.  

4. Write your resume.

Your resume is the first thing a potential employer will see. Ensure that you include education, qualifications, work history and soft skills that will make you a desirable candidate. 

5. Apply for jobs.

Search Indeed or in local job listings to find home health nursing jobs that are suitable for you and match your qualifications and experience. Some employers may state that you must have a certain amount of experience or in a specific sector of patients. You should tailor your resume and cover letter for each job application.

Home health nurse job description example

The Cardiac Clinic is looking for a home help nurse to assist us in our mission to provide post-acute care for cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary patients. Our goals are to provide the best possible level of patient care and to prevent re-hospitalization.  Your role will be to offer a range of services that include:

You must have current state licensure and at least three years of experience in a similar role.

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