Specialized Careers in Nursing – Home Care Visiting Nurse
These days not all nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing home facilities. Canada’s healthcare system has a growing need for options that help patients remain at home and out of the hospital, and Home Care Visiting Nurses play a critical role.
Visiting Nurses are nurses who will visit patients in the patient’s home, to provide basic and intermediate level medical care. The tasks a visiting nurse can do will depend on the nurse’s training, but can involve things such as health assessments, pain and symptom management, catheter and ostomy care, administering IV and chemotherapy drugs, diabetes management, wound care, or performing diabetic foot care. Being able to treat patients in-home is crucial to the health care system, as there are many patients who would need to regularly visit the hospital as an outpatient, or spend days, weeks, and months in hospital, leading to longer wait times and fewer available hospital beds.
Education requirements for Visiting Nurses are the same as any other nursing professional. You will need to complete at least a Bachelor’s degree in nursing through a registered nursing school. In some cases you can start the nursing program in first year; otherwise you may need to take a year or two of general science before applying to the nursing program. Additional schooling or professional growth courses may also be required if you intend to specialize in a specific field of nursing, such as Palliative Care, Paediatrics, Alzheimer’s and Dementia patient care, or wound care. All nurses in Canada must also write a licensing exam and register with their provincial Nurses Association.
VN’s work independently as a private-hire nurse contracting directly with families and patients, or are employed by one of the many for-profit and not-for-profit home health care agencies that operate across Canada. Working privately, you accept the patients and workload that fits your lifestyle. If you are employed with an agency, you will typically be hired at a specific status (such as a Casual, Part Time, or Full Time), and will be assigned a caseload of clients by the office. Private or agency VNs also do shift work, such as overnight shifts with chronic care patients who require medications and monitoring. Some agencies offer school shift nurses, who will attend to children and young adults on-site at the patient’s school to monitor, assist with medications and symptom management, and most importantly to ensure that these children have the opportunity to attend school and gain an education.
Wages range from $20 to $45/hour for both Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), depending on the province, territory, or city. Whether you have any specializations will also affect wages, as specialty nurses can be in higher demand. Overall earnings can also differ whether you are independent or with an agency; while private nurses can often expect higher wages, employment through an agency often will provide you with a consistent and reliable schedule and hourly earnings, as well as a benefits package.