Home IV therapy nurses provide medical and nursing care for patients in their own homes. Medication that is administered intravenously is called IV therapy, and since patients receive this care at home, the home IV therapy nurse specialty was created. There is a huge demand for this type of nursing since the cost for patient care is diminished but the quality of the care remains high when a home IV therapy nurse is involved in the patient’s care.
Most people think that the home IV therapy nurse only provides intravenous medication. For example, most of us realize that any cancer patient receiving medication at home is being seen and cared for by a home IV therapy nurse. So what else does a home IV therapy nurse do?
In addition to administering medications to patients, a home IV therapy nurse implements doctor’s orders. These orders may be diverse and usually consist of performing venous and arterial punctures, administering blood products, and providing the patient transparenteral nutrition (also called total parenteral nutrition and abbreviated TPN) via a medical infusion pump. TPN is administered to people who cannot or should not eat due to their illness. TPN provides essential nutrients and is tolerated more easily by a patient who is weak or has a compromised immune system.
Home IV therapy nurses also monitor patients for infections at dressing and infusion sites, initiate emergency treatment if needed, assess the patient for allergic drug reactions, assess the patient for any medical complications and alert the doctor when needed, and document the treatment plan that has been carried out and how well the patient has responded to that treatment.
IV therapy nurses work in varying settings, such as at hospitals, for home health agencies, and at physician’s offices. The home IV therapy nurse must be technically adept to handle patients with various illnesses and varying conditions. This type of work appeals to a person who craves autonomy, is creative, loves to educate patients, loves to work in different environments, enjoys travel from site to site, and communicates well with all people involved in the patient’s care. Empathy and compassion are key personal traits that enhance patient care provided by the home IV therapy nurse.
The educational training provided by a home IV therapy nurse is essential for good patient home care. The patient and family members can be trained by the home IV therapy nurse to administer the IV medication(s).
Educational requirements desired for a home IV therapy nurse are an RN with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a diploma, or a degree such as a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN). Medical-surgical nursing experience is desirable which should include IV, venous access, and phlebotomy training.
Working as a home IV therapy nurse is challenging but always rewarding. Consider this special niche in nursing if you like to travel, educate patients and their families and make a significant contribution to patient care.