A hospice nurse must have a degree in nursing and complete a practical nursing program that is approved by the state. Practical programs are available at the community, technical or vocational colleges. The program gives skills and knowledge to provide nursing care, such as assisting patients in hygiene and mobility.
Registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who seek to work with hospice patients can enroll in graduate certificate programs in palliative care. These programs include three to six courses, offering education in helping people suffering from terminal health conditions. Advanced nursing programs include a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in palliative care, which equips a person for a nursing career in hospice and palliative care. Basic courses required in all nursing programs include nursing care principles, physiology and anatomy. After earning a degree in nursing, students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to get licenses to work.
After becoming a hospice nurse, a person may consider continuing training by taking professional development courses such as organ donation, terminal dehydration and ethical end-of-life care. The National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurse offers certification for hospice nurses, but it is voluntary. Nurses must have the minimum number of years working as a hospice nurse to qualify.