Private duty nurses care for one patient at a time. The patient can range in age from newborn to elderly, and treatment can be provided in the patient’s home (most common), hospital, assisted-living facility, or nursing home.
Their job duties depend on the needs of their patient, such as:
The nurse’s orders come from the patient’s physician, and they may include monitoring blood pressure and temperature, helping with range of motion exercises, changing bandages on wounds, administering medications either intravenously or orally, caring for catheters, and providing patient and family education. The nurse must document every aspect of care in the patient’s chart as well as note assessments on the patient’s health status.
Depending on the patient’s condition, private duty nurses may provide massage therapy, administer chemotherapy drugs, refill oxygen tanks, monitor for seizures, or help a patient relearn to walk.
It’s quite common for patients on ventilators to hire private duty nurses, especially if they live at home. The nurses are responsible for maintaining the ventilator, providing tube feedings, keeping the patient’s throat clear of extra secretions, inserting urinary catheters, turning the patient, and monitoring the patient for infection.
Private duty nurses who care for newborns take vital signs and provide feedings. If the baby has a medical condition, the nurse may feed him through a feeding tube or administer medication. At times, healthy newborns are cared for by a private duty nurse because the mother requires an extended recovery after delivery.
Wealthy patients often hire a private duty nurse even if they don’t need careful monitoring. Instead, the nurse may drive the patient to and from medical appointments, monitor vital signs, and remind him to take any daily medications.
Private duty nurses may also provide personal care services such as cleaning and cooking for their patient.
Preparing for an Emergency
Caring for a patient in a home environment can be difficult for nurses, and they must be prepared for situations such as a compromised airway. If such an emergency arises, the nurse must provide basic life support.
Private duty nurses are registered nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from an accredited institution.
They must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in the state they wish to work.
Before becoming a private duty nurse, one must have at least one year of clinical experience in acute, medical-surgical, or emergency care situations. Other requirements include Basic Life Support certification, first aid training, and training in ECG reading and intravenous therapy.
The job outlook is promising as the need for private duty nurses is on the rise due to the fact a lot patients are choosing to be cared for at home because of the high daily care expenses in hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes. Many patients also prefer to have care at home because it’s easier for friends and family members to visit.
The median annual salary for private duty nurses was nearly $70,000 in 2013, though it ranges from $31,000-$85,000. Salaries depend on geographic location, employer, certification, and level of education. It’s said that the best opportunities for private duty nurses are found in New York, New York; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Atlanta, Georgia.
These nurses are eligible to work as freelancers or they can gain employment through a hospital or nursing agency. To learn more about private duty nursing, please contact us. We can help you determine if it’s the right nursing field for you as well as provide you with information about programs across the country.