Healthcare management jobs within a hospice are critical to achieving the underlying mission of hospice care, which is to provide supportive care to patients in the end stage of life due to an illness. Hospice provides palliative care to patients who have chosen this route to let the disease run its course instead of pursuing curative therapies that may prolong life yet bring on more pain and misery. Palliative care relieves symptoms, improving quality of life for patients while providing respite and emotional support to caregivers and family members. The decision to enter hospice is made by the patient, their family, and their doctor, and hospice staff ensures a safe, comfortable and caring environment where the patient’s end-of-life choices are respected.
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Nurse managers are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the hospice, which should be staffed with nurses of varying skills. Although the facility focuses on palliative therapies, many of these options require high-level skills such as the use and maintenance of gastrostomy and nasogastric tubes, colostomy and nephrostomy systems and other medical devices. The nurse manager ensures that proper safety protocols are in place and that nurses and other staff are adequately trained and supervised for the tasks that they are assigned to do. Nurse managers make staffing decisions including hiring, retention and employee assessments. In the hospice environment, they also have the critical task of interacting with patients and their families/caregivers to make sure that their needs and preferences are met.
Nurse managers typically have advanced degrees such as a master’s in nursing or public health. They will have a number of years of experience as a nurse in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities and visiting nurses pools.
Each hospice facility is required to have a medical director to ensure compliance with medication and medication administration protocols. Medication administered in the hospice setting intends to alleviate pain and keep patients comfortable. Many of these medications are controlled substances and should be administered with caution and only by authorized personnel. The nurse manager reports to the medical director, and the medical director ensures that the facility complies with safety regulations and ethical practices.
The medical director in a hospice is usually a physician with broad experience in medicine, including critical care, geriatric care, and hospitalist experience. The medical director may not have as much direct contact with patients and their families in the same way as the nurse manager.
Hospice Services Manager
The hospice services manager acts as the chief executive for the facility, performing the functions of chief operations officer and chief financial officer. This is the person who takes charge of the business end of hospice operations, ensuring that the facility is adequately staffed at all times. The hospice services manager may be the public face of the facility, performing public relations and community liaison tasks as needed. The hospice services manager is usually a nurse, physician or lawyer with experience in hospice operations and some business training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, enrollments in hospice programs have risen more than seven times in the last decade based on numbers from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Meanwhile, the number of hospice providers have increased threefold. Clearly, the need for hospice providers, in general, will continue to grow as will the need for healthcare management jobs within a hospice environment.