CommunityHospice/Palliative CarePerspectives

Notes from a scared hospice nurse: I am afraid


I am afraid…..Every time I read a new hospice referral.

I am afraid…..Every time I walk into a dying patient’s room.

I am afraid…..Every time I start a conversation about hospice care.

I am afraid…..Every time I assess a dying patient.

I am afraid…..Am I missing something?

I am afraid…..Am I going to meet the patient’s needs?

I am afraid…..Am I going to say the wrong thing?

I am afraid…..How are they going to react?

I am afraid…..Every time I hold a patient’s hand

I am afraid…..Am I going to cry?

I am afraid…..Will I be confident enough?

I am afraid…..Will someone know I am afraid?

I do it anyway because someone needs to go into the room.

I do it anyway because someone needs to talk about the hard things.

I do it anyway because they need to know someone cares.

I do it anyway because patients need to know they are not alone and they can still get care.

I do it anyway because it makes me a better nurse.

I do it anyway because it makes my assessment better.

I do it anyway because it makes me more it makes my interventions better.

I do it anyway because it makes me more compassionate and empathetic.

I do it anyway because it makes me further my education to bring more knowledge to my patients.

I do it anyway because it lets the patient and family know they are important and their circumstances matter.

I am human and a nurse and I do the hard things anyway because that’s what nurse do.

I have been a nurse for 23 years and I am proud to say I’m still afraid.

The views and opinions expressed by Perspectives contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. These are opinion pieces and are not peer reviewed.


  • Harriette A Carr RN, MSN
    November 13, 2017 2:01 pm

    I would add I am scared every time I teach a class that I might get something wrong and the students will harm someone following my advice.

  • I’ve been a nurse for 22 years and a hospice nurse for 17. I agree with the writer of the above, although I’m not sure “afraid” is the proper word. I’m not even sure you can find the one proper word to describe what it feels like to do what we do, because there are so many. I have been on both sides — dealing with my dying father and having hospice services for him. It is certainly a unique experience and a unique job. Most people I meet, when I tell them what I do, they say, “Ah, how can you do that? It takes a special person to do that job”. I’m not sure I’m special, but it is a job not everyone can do.

  • Wow. As a brand new nurse, and a home healthcare nurse…I loved reading this. I love it because that is how I feel and I feel better knowing that even an experienced nurse of so many years you feel this way as well. Thank you for sharing!

  • I have never met a nurse that wasn’t compassionate, empathetic and caring. That is especially true of a hospice nurse. It certainly is a job that is needed but also an emotional job.

  • Love it Lisa perfectly put!

Comments are closed.

cheryl meeGet your free access to the exclusive newsletter of American Nurse Journal and gain insights for your nursing practice.

NurseLine Newsletter

  • Hidden

*By submitting your e-mail, you are opting in to receiving information from Healthcom Media and Affiliates. The details, including your email address/mobile number, may be used to keep you informed about future products and services.

Test Your Knowledge

Which of the following statements accurately describes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)?

More Perspectives