When Angel Latrice Burrell first enrolled in nursing school, she wasn’t sure she could make it to graduation. The mom of four struggled to find adequate time to study and secure a steady income stream to pay her bills. Like many other nursing students, time and money were precious resources for Burrell, and the scarcity of both nearly led her to drop out of school.
But in August 2019, she found a home health aide job with Maxim that changed everything. “The job allowed me to pay my bills without feeling completely exhausted at the end of the day,” Burrell says. “I didn’t have to work long hours and had some downtime to study. It was extremely beneficial.”
What is a Home Health Aide (HHA)?
Home health aides care for people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or age-related health issues in a home setting. HHAs support their patients’ comfort and wellbeing by helping with daily tasks and routines such as meal preparation, medication reminders, personal care and hygiene help, companionship, and other tasks as needed.
A Tailor-Made Job for Nursing Students – A Look at Home Health Aide Duties
While HHAs work independently and provide basic medical services, they are supervised by a medical professional and do not need to have a nursing degree. For nursing students, being a HHA can be the perfect opportunity to hone nursing skills in a low-stress environment, while earning money.
For Burrell, it’s what ultimately allowed her to complete nursing school and graduate at the end of 2020. Every weekday, she attended school from 8 am to 2 pm, picked up her kids, and then worked her HHA job from 4 to 9 pm. “If you’re looking for a way to pay the bills and strengthen your nursing skills, this is it,” she says. “There are so many benefits of this type of work for being a successful nursing student.” Benefits such as:
- Flexible work hours. There are plenty of full-time, part-time, and PRN (“as needed”) home health aide jobs available. “It fits around your schedule and you can pick up more hours during lighter weeks,” says Burrell.
- Manageable workload. Nursing students don’t need another source of stress on top of a rigorous course load and studying requirements. If you’re looking for work, you want a job that doesn’t leave you feeling depleted with little energy to study. “Being a home health aide is not as stressful as having to go into a facility and be on your feat 24/7,” says Burrell. “Your work consists of caring for one patient, not 20 to 30 patients at once like you would have in a facility.”
- Time to study. Many HHA jobs allow for a certain level of “downtime” when patients have all of their needs met, particularly for aides working the night shift. For nursing students, this time is perfect for reading and studying. “I could focus on studying at work once my patients were well taken care of and all needs were met,” says Burrell. “It was so helpful when I could incorporate some studying into my job during the week.”
- A chance to strengthen your nursing skills. Being a HHA provides an opportunity to fine-tune what you’re learning in school and put it into practice in real-life situations. “As a home health aide, you really do everything for the patient and it gave me an idea of what being a nurse would look like after I graduated,” says Burrell. “I got practice in charting, forming a patient/client relationship, communicating with family members, collaborating with other healthcare workers, and dealing with different medications.”
Launchpad for a Career in Home Health Nursing
Not only does working as a home health aide develop general nursing skills, but it also serves as a foundation for a career in home health nursing, a branch of nursing that offers home-based care for patients after discharge from a hospital or other medical facility. In fact, there is considerable overlap between the tasks and responsibilities of a home health aide and a home health nurse. “As a HHA, you really learn how to form a relationship with your patients and learn how to care for them through continued one-on-one interactions,” says Burrell.
Benefits of Being a Home Health Nurse
And as a growing field in the healthcare industry, home health nursing offers significant flexibility, independence and the opportunity to cultivate more meaningful relationships with patients over time. Compared to facility-based nurses, home health nurses are less likely to work weekends and holidays, and are not subject to a hospital’s rigid shift schedule. As the primary caregiver for a patient, home health nurses also enjoy more autonomy in decision-making and can use their knowledge to innovate and transform a patient’s life. These nurses are often able to see the impact of their care by working with patients over an extended period of time, creating more job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. To get a sense of whether home health nursing is the right career for you, becoming a home health aide is a great place to start.
Maxim Healthcare Services is hiring part-time, full-time and PRN home health aides. View our current job openings!