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my perspective on hospice

My name is Cristie, I am a registered nurse. I have been a nurse for 8 years. I have spent most of that time working in home care, specifically hospice home care. I love being a nurse, and I love working in hospice, most days I could not imagine doing anything else. However, there are times it is the most challenging and frustrating work. I find that there is a real fear and lack of knowledge regarding hospice, especially from physicians. They refer people so late in their illness, they do not really have an opportunity to gain all the benefits the program has to offer. There have also been many times that patients have been referred to us without really understanding what hospice is at all. I understand medicare is making cuts everyday and doctors have to be careful when referring patients to hospice, that they are actually appropriate for the program. But, that is not what I'm referring to..... I don't know if it is that doctors feel it is a failure on their part, they are trained to heal and when they can't they feel they have failed their patients; or, maybe they just aren't use to discussing the dying process. Maybe because its an everyday thing for me, I'm more comfortable being open about it. It just seems, for many doctors, discussing a patient's death is out of their comfort zone. Whatever the reason, it causes much frustration for me, my coworkers and occasionally my patients. Now while this is not true of all doctors, and certainly things have improved drastically in the years I have been working in hospice, it still remains a frustration when I walk into a house and someone is only hours from death, or even worse, when I walk into a house and the family says, " so what is the plan to get my family member better......."

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