Shortage in hospice care, nurse says demanding job isn’t for everyone

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WALNUT GROVE, Mo. — Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but there seems to be a shortage in hospice nurses. 

George Martin, a hospice nurse for Integrity Home Care and Hospice, agrees. 

“It seems like there are very few young nurses,” Martin said. “Most of them are 50 and above. If you’re just in it for the paycheck, you don’t need to go into nursing, because you have to care for your patients.”

While the job is demanding, some hospice nurses may not be paid as much as you may think for the taxing job. According to Indeed, the average hospice nurse salary in Missouri is 16 percent below the country’s average.

Martin has been a hospice nurse for two years.

“The emphasis is to keep people comfortable and keep them at home, so that they can pass at home with their family around them as opposed to a sterile environment in a hospital,” Martin said.  

One of his patients, Benny Parrish, says he appreciates George. 

“George is the best,” Parrish said. “He has kept me out of a nursing home and kept me out of the hospital.”

But it’s a very demanding job to care for people that could soon pass. 

“It can be very emotionally draining and hard at times because you see these people several times a week and they’re friends. Benny is my friend,” Martin said. “It’s very powerful when you help somebody, you help somebody work through that.” 

When asked if he found his job rewarding, Martin told OzarksFirst he did. 

“Oh, very much so,” Martin said. “A win is when people pass peacefully at home, with their family and loved ones around.”

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