As a nurse case manager for HopeHealth Visiting Nurse, I care for patients who are home recovering from an illness or injury. Like many of my colleagues, I chose a nursing career to help people. I chose home care because it is clinically challenging and I see different types of patients and cases every day.
My first job after nursing school was in a skilled nursing facility. It was a hectic unit that pulled me in many directions. I sometimes felt like I had tunnel vision, treating symptoms rather than the patient as a whole person.
I practiced in this environment for several years until deciding it was time for a change. The first reason was my family. I have four beautiful children and as much as I love being a nurse, I love being their mom and wanted more work-life balance. The second reason was I wanted more time to connect with my patients.
A mix of clinical challenge and work-life balance
When researching different nursing fields, I kept coming back to home care. I had a few friends at HopeHealth who told me how much they loved working there. Stepping out of my comfort zone and starting with a new organization was nerve-wracking, but I decided to go for it and made the switch. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It is extremely special that patients welcome me into their homes. I see a glimpse of their lives and provide care on a personal level.
From the very beginning, I’ve seen how HopeHealth Visiting Nurse is different. I have all the tools I need to succeed and never feel like “just another nurse.” Even though I work on my own in the field, I’m never truly alone and that team atmosphere is unprecedented for me. For the first time in my career, I feel supported in my day-to-day work.
I also love having more time to spend with my patients and their families. It is extremely special that patients welcome me into their homes. I see a glimpse of their lives and provide care on a more personal level.
Working in home care is also humbling because I see patients during their most vulnerable times. It’s rewarding to be a small part of their success while they navigate through a difficult diagnosis, injury or setback.
Finally, home care nursing has given me the work-life balance I craved along with the opportunity to grow into a better nurse.
At the end of our conversation, Jeannie looked at me and said, “You know, you’re the first nurse during all of this that has actually taken the time to listen to me.”
The home care patients I’ll never forget
Every nurse has cared for patients who make a lasting impact personally and professionally. Those are the memories that stick with us forever, and I’ve made two such memories since joining HopeHealth.
Jeannie* was one of my home care patients discharged from the hospital with an ostomy. When parts of the urinary or digestive system malfunction, a surgeon creates an artificial opening in the abdomen, called an ostomy, to allow for the removal of bodily waste. Many patients struggle emotionally with the impact of this surgery, and Jeannie was no different.
The first time I visited her, she cried and told me how overwhelmed and scared she felt. I sat down and listened patiently. I promised her we would work together until she was comfortable with her ostomy.
At the end of our conversation, Jeannie looked at me and said, “You know, you’re the first nurse during all of this that has actually taken the time to listen to me.” That really stuck with me.
“Keep this message, and whenever you have a down or doubtful day, read it. It’s filled with truth.”
Naomi* was another patient I remember fondly. She was living with terminal cancer.
Home care nurses often care for cancer patients. Sometimes, if their symptoms progress, we help transition them from home care to hospice care. That was the case for Naomi, yet she was terrified to start hospice. She thought that meant giving up.
Naomi was very close to her niece, Sharon, who lived in North Carolina. She asked me to call Sharon after each visit and provide an update, which I was happy to do.
After several weeks in my care, Naomi decided it was time to start hospice. While this might not seem like a success, to me it meant she felt comfortable and safe enough to make this impossible decision. I was honored to support her through her journey.
Shortly after Naomi transferred from my care into hospice, I was surprised to receive this note from Sharon:
I’m not sure if you’ve been notified, but wanted to let you know that my aunt passed away Monday night at 11:56 p.m. She was peaceful and had her family around her.
I cannot tell you how much you have meant to me over the weeks. You started this journey with me. I would not have been able to support her without you. For that, I am forever grateful. Every patient you touch is so very blessed to have you.
Keep this message, and whenever you have a down or doubtful day, read it. It’s filled with truth.
I do read this message often. It reminds me how forever grateful I feel for opportunities to make an impact on patients like Naomi and their families.
My fellow home care nurses at HopeHealth have similar stories. Although the health care industry is changing daily, our reason to practice this profession remains the same. We help patients move from tears to independence, from fear to security, and HopeHealth supports our vision.
I feel truly accomplished in my career and am thankful for HopeHealth’s support. I look forward to many more life-changing moments with my patients.
*Patient names changed to protect privacy.