If you're thinking of moving into the home health care field as a nurse, it is important to be aware of the regulations regarding home health care providers. While the legal requirements for being a home health nurse do not vary widely from those for nurses in hospitals, nursing facilities or clinics, there may be additional qualifications that home health agencies will require before hiring you, based on the nature of the work you will be performing and the specific patient population.
Education & Licensing
To practice nursing in any setting, you must have attained the proper education and be licensed by your state's Board of Nursing. Home health care agencies are regulated by state just as any other health care provider is, and thus they are required to verify the licensure of their staff.
Some home health agencies may require nurses to obtain additional certifications or training. These areas may include CPR certification, IV certification for vocational/practical nurses, or training in Alzheimer's care or psychiatric care. The agency may hire you to work as a home health nurse without these qualifications already being met, and give you the opportunity to obtain them by a certain date. Additionally, the agency may pay for your training or certification costs.
Because home health nurses work largely independently, many home health care providers prefer their nurses have a certain amount of experience -- usually at least a year. This ensures the nurse is adequately prepared to handle crises, can work unsupervised or without a lot of direction, and is fully competent in the primary aspects of providing nursing care.
Depending on the location where you are working and the specific requirements of the agency you contract through, you may need to meet additional requirements to become a home health nurse. For instance, you may have to provide your own reliable transportation. Some agencies require nurses to carry their own professional liability or malpractice insurance in addition to what is covered by the agency's insurance plan. Additionally, depending on your status as an employee or as an independent contractor, you might be required to pay for any training or continuing education required to maintain your nursing license.