Careers in Nursing: What is a Home Health Nurse?

Submitted by Andrew Steger on Thu, 02/03/2022 - 20:53
A home care nurse with her elderly patient

As a result of age, mobility issues, or chronic illness, many patients require medical assistance within their own homes. For these unique circumstances, home health nurses are often hired for the job.

What is a home health nurse? Home health nurses are trained to provide long-term, nursing care to patients with chronic conditions. From monitoring symptoms to assisting with movement, home health nurses perform a wide variety of duties in this line of work.

If you’re interested in this unique career path, read on for everything you need to know about being a home health nurse.



What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

Registered nurses (RNs) who work in home healthcare spend most of their time working with a smaller pool of patients or even just a single recurring patient. This is because home healthcare takes up quite a bit of time, sometimes requiring daily, round-the-clock monitoring and assistance.

For some nurses, this position is preferable to a high-intensity environment—such as the emergency room or intensive care unit. Home healthcare offers stable work, consistent hours, and allows nurses to develop deeper relationships with their patients.

Similar to a nurses who specialize in gerontology, some of the most common responsibilities of a home health nurse may include:

  • Administering medications

  • Assessing vital signs

  • Helping patients move around the home and perform daily tasks

  • Performing physical assessments

  • Conducting assessment of the home environment

  • Treating wounds

  • Developing treatment and care plans

  • Educating the patient and patient’s family on the plan of care

  • Collaborating with the interdisciplinary care team

While these are just a few examples of home nursing care, it’s important to note that home health positions differ case-by-case. This is because every patient has different conditions, symptoms, and needs from their home healthcare provider.


Where Do Home Health Nurses Work?

Although home health nurses tend to work in patients’ homes, they can be employed by a number of healthcare facilities, including:

  • Hospitals

  • Healthcare agencies

  • Retirement homes

  • Hospice centers

  • Community facilities

Basically, any facility that assigns nursing professionals to a specific patient can employ a home health nurse. While a majority of work will be done at patients’ homes, you may still be required to report back to your original place of employment.


How Much Do Home Health Nurses Make?

The median salary for a home health registered nurse (RN) in the U.S. falls around $73,000 per year. Of course, certain variables can have an impact on this figure. For example, the following areas of the country have higher rates for home health nurses:

  • Richmond, CA – Average salary of $84,286 per year.

  • Stamford, CT – Average salary of $82,074 per year.

  • Bellevue, WA – Average salary of $81,889 per year.

  • San Francisco, CA – Average salary of $78,997 per year.

The salary you earn as a home health nurse may also depend on the facility you’re employed at, the patients you treat, and the level of experience you have in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 7% increase in home health jobs throughout 2029, which may have an effect on salaries and hourly pay as well.


Good Traits of a Home Health Nurse

Each field of nursing comes with a unique set of responsibilities, benefits, and challenges. These variables ultimately lead to some nurses being better equipped for a certain line of work than others. If you’re interested in a career as a home health aide, consider whether or not you possess these important characteristics:

  • Empathy and compassion – Patients who require home healthcare often struggle with chronic conditions and a loss of independence. For this reason, home healthcare can sometimes be an emotional job. Nurses with high levels of empathy and compassion may have an easier time relating to patients, making them feel comfortable, and creating a positive environment within their home.

  • Communication – Similar to empathy and compassion, communication is also crucial when working as a home care nurse. In this type of situation, having a medical professional in your home can be awkward or uncomfortable at first. By creating an open line of communication, home health nurses can form a better relationship with their patients and avoid crossing any boundaries.

  • Flexibility – Your schedule as a home health nurse will differ quite a bit from working in a hospital or private practice. The number of hours spent with each patient per day depended on the needs of the patients. Some may only require a bi-weekly visit while others require daily or even 24 hour hour care. Employers will delineate the expectations for hours and days of the week at time of employment.


Is Home Health Nursing a Good Career?

Now that you understand what a home health nurse does, you may have one final question that hasn’t been answered: is this a good career path?

For many people, the answer is yes! Home healthcare is a major industry that is only expected to grow, thus providing stable job opportunities and reliable pay. Nurses who work in home healthcare may also benefit from the low-intensity work environment and the meaningful relationships they form with their patients.

If these elements of nursing interest you, then a career as a home health nurse may be the path for you. To help you find your perfect fit, we’ve compiled a list of high-quality, accredited online ABSN programs. Simply enter your Zip code below to find which program(s) are available in your area.


The content published on our blog is reviewed by credentialed healthcare professionals to give you the most up-to-date and professionally accurate information. This particular article was professionally reviewed by Colleen Sanders, RN, FNP-BC on February 2, 2022.