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Written by NS StaffJuly 21, 2011
Home Healthcare Nurse

Gina Garrison* always knew she wanted to be a nurse. As a child she battled with asthma and other illnesses, so nursing school seemed like a natural fit. Gina worked for many years on the hospital floors; comforting patients, working with doctors, and ensuring that the patients got quality care.

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She'd be the first person to admit in-hospital nursing paid well. Gina was able to buy whatever she needed and had money left over to take in troubled teens and help them through high school.

But, in the end, it wasn't enough for Gina. She loved helping people, but the bureaucracy of hospital work was too much. Gina wanted to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork. So, she moved to home healthcare nursing.

Gina registered herself with the agencies in San Francisco and went to work. She has regular clients she works with every day—helping them dress, take medication, do simple exercises—and some clients she works with when their normal nurse isn't around.

Her schedule is sometimes better and sometimes worse than it was in the hospital. Gina has been a home health worker for long enough that she has a regular client list and a number of organizations that would love to give her more work. However, her clients don't always need her between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday. One might need her at 6am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Another client needs her help every weekday at 1pm. Other clients need her nights and Sundays. She is free to tell clients she won't work certain days or hours, but if she doesn't work, she doesn't get paid.

If you want to work with patients on a more personal level, like Gina, consider home health nursing. You will get a chance to help children and adults of all levels of abilities. Some clients will be leading normal lives, and will just need you to help with bathing and grooming. Others will be much weaker, and you will be needed to administer medication, change dressings, and comfort them. In either case, you will make a great impact on your patient's lives.

* Name changed

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