I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. I put my dream on hold for family, but when the time was right, I left my mortgage industry job and entered nursing school.
When I wasn’t studying, I worked as a certified nursing assistant for a home health agency. Early on, I was assigned to a hospice patient and found the work to be incredibly rewarding. Being able to provide comfort and support was an amazing feeling.
I built relationships on trust and compassion with the patients and the families. I soon realized that hospice care is designed to support the patient and their loved ones, which allows for improved quality of life and control over their journey. I quickly learned that hospice was about living. I wanted to become a hospice nurse and help as many people as possible live fully and completely.
I worked with hospice patients and their families for two years while attending Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA. Following graduation, I passed the Registered Nurse exam, but soon hit roadblocks on the way to my dream job.
I worked for an agency and provided care in schools and in individual and group homes. I was getting some experience, but not the right experience. Then I discovered the Care Dimensions Hospice Nurse Residency Program.
Training to become a hospice nurse
The residency gave me additional classroom and in-the-field training I would need to become a hospice nurse. At first, I was nervous that I didn’t have all the right skills, but my fears were quickly put to rest when I realized that Care Dimensions would teach me all I needed to know to ensure my success.
From the moment I walked in the door at Care Dimensions, everyone made me feel part of the family. From the receptionist and human resources staff, to all the doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurse educators – I was welcomed and put on a path of constant learning.
During my field training, I shadowed two nurses at different times. I observed their different styles of interacting with patients and families and how they organized their days. I watched and listened as they were on the phone with doctors and pharmacists, and how they handled family members’ tough questions.
Nurse residency helped build my skills, confidence
Being mentored by hospice nurse case managers and honing my skills in patients’ homes made me feel empowered. Every day during the hospice nurse residency, I was building skills and confidence. I learned “the Care Dimensions way” of doing the work of a hospice nurse, and that means teamwork. Even when you are out on the road alone, you’re never really alone. There’s always someone available to help – your clinical manager, social worker, chaplain, other nurses. Every day is different and you never know what’s coming next, but you always have that support.
My first few solo visits with patients were made easier by incredible support from my team. Compliments from the family help, too. Soon after I became a hospice nurse case manager, the husband of one of my patients said, “I can tell that this isn’t just a job for you.” He was right. Caring and compassion, that’s what we’re all about. We make them feel comfortable and cared for, even though their journey through life isn’t going exactly as planned.
I have been a hospice nurse case manager for over a year now, but I wouldn’t be here without the nurse residency program. Care Dimensions invested in me, and I am proud to say that I know I can handle any patient situation because of the outstanding training and support I receive. I am working in my dream job, and I am privileged and humbled to get to share my patients’ final days with them.
Learn more: Care Dimensions is accepting applications for our Hospice Nurse Residency Program until July 12; classes begin in September. Graduates will be offered a full-time position at the new Greater Boston Hospice House.