Years ago, I started as a nursing student. I didn’t put a lot of thought into my future when I was in high school, but all I knew was that I wanted to work with kids. I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher, so the next best option seemed to be a pediatric nurse. I had volunteered at the local children’s hospital in high school and I loved spending time with those children. Working with children has always been and will always be a passion of mine. So, off to nursing school I went. Once I got to the first practical, med surg, I quickly realized that being a nurse was not for me. It wasn’t the experience I wanted, having 7-8 clients per shift, rotating between passing meds, charting and being very task oriented. I wanted a personal, engaging relationship with each and every one of my patients. What I didn’t know then, is that that type of nursing exists; it exists within the long-term-care home health nursing.
Throughout my time with SequelCare of Maine I have had many conversations with our Director of Nursing, Jenna Scrivner, about why home health nursing is so different from any other type of nursing, as well as the many benefits to working in this field; this time was different. I sat down, without the intent to recruit for her or problem solve, just to listen and take it all in (which I clearly should have been doing the whole time). Here are many of my take-aways from our conversation about why all nurses should work in home health at least once in their career:
- There are no restrictions when it comes to long-term care. As a nurse you aren’t evaluated based on the number of clients you see or what the insurance company dictates. You get to do what you went to nursing school for: be a nurse. As Jenna put it, “All nurses want to be able to take care of the patients on a deeper level”. In this type of long-term-care, you are with a client for 8-10 hours at a time. You get to do complete nursing care, from socializing to activities of daily living to building and developing relationships. Nurses that come to us from other settings often call in their first few shifts, concerned that they aren’t doing enough. Jenna reassures them that they are, and that building a relationship with the client and getting to know your client’s needs is all part of the job!
- Home health nursing comes with a lot of flexibility in scheduling. Do you need full time? Part time? Do you want to work days, evenings, or nights? You really have your choice of shifts and you aren’t restricted to any one schedule. Over the years nurses have changed from one to the other, with no need to apply for, or put in a formal request to change. Along those lines, you’re working in a family’s home; sometimes they may also want some space and the agency respects that. At Sequel, there is no requirement that our nurses work or rotate weekends or holidays.
- LTC Home Health nursing is a low stress environment. So many nurses burn out, some quicker than others. Nursing is a high intensity job; I don’t think that comes as a shock to anyone. Nurses are busy, overworked, and underpaid for the responsibilities that they have. The environment and stress reduce dramatically when you get to paint a client’s nails. When you’re working with pediatric clients in their homes, you get to read to them, help them with their self-care by doing things like braiding their hair, and watch them grow and work towards varying levels of independence.
- You’re making a difference for a child and family in your local community. These families would truly be in a bind without the nursing support they receive. Their children need a significant amount of care and support that would otherwise be on the parents to provide. By going to their homes, or helping in the schools, you’re allowing the family to do other things to help minimize their stress and have the energy for the next shift without support.
These are just some of the reasons why we think all nurses should work as a home health nurse for at least part of their career; there are many others. If you have some, please share them with us on Facebook or send us an e-mail. We love hearing from nurses about how much they love their jobs and are making a difference. All nurses, regardless of where you are working, are rock stars. Thank you for the long hours and the thankless jobs you do!
By Jennifer Patterson
June 21, 2018