Why go into the field of nursing? To be assured of always having a job.
Why stay in the field of nursing? Because this profession has fueled my soul for decades. Every single day of work has been stimulating and gratifying. Every decade provided new avenues of growth, additional ways to provide service to others.
I recall starting out in 1978, night shift, at St David’s Hospital in Austin. The pay was awesome: almost six dollars an hour! Wealth had landed in my lap, financial security for my children’s future.
The work was exciting and scary, starting out in intensive care / cardiology. Back then there were no doctors in the hospital at night, just us nurses. It was in our hands to respond to life-threatening emergencies, resuscitate when needed, and cradle life in our hands. The trajectory of learning was rocket steep.
Before long, the night nurse job evolved to the head nurse role of a general medical unit. More learning, both clinically and professionally. Back then, nurses did all the hands-on patient care; bathing, walking, vital signs, medications, tubes, all things big and small. We knew every detail and every inch of our patients. It was a golden time as we were the repository of information. Our unique therapeutic touch communicated who we were and how we cared. Hospital nursing back then was personal.
Then the evolution of care swelled. The dawn of home health was flourishing and I had an opportunity to jump in. With the support of a national company, Norrell Home Health, I opened offices throughout Texas and then established a statewide network for home care services, Patient Alternatives Today.
After more than a decade in the field of home health, my family began expressing their opinions. An “intervention” was held to assert their concern over my long work hours and unrelenting burden of responsibility. Under pressure, I caved and transitioned to case management, a field that demanded fewer hours, less pressure, and more time for family.
As the case management arm of a large doctor’s group, Austin Regional Clinic, the focus was on patient support and resource management. A plethora to learn but it also ignited an appetite for individual case management.
In 2000, I started my own company, CareFor (formerly Nurses Case Management), a private practice with a laser focus on “patient first” and everything that includes. Service offerings grew organically as my patients made their needs known. They designed the business step by step. And the company grew. Over time, it outgrew what I could do solo and a partnership was formed to meet the needs of a larger population.
The decades have provided experiences that are deep and rich and heart-warming. They have demonstrated there are no simple answers to aging, injury, or illness. Only stories to be told. Tales to lessen the sting and soften the blow. The one thing I know for sure in the field of healthcare: hope is not a plan.