“Every day brings something new. There’s always something to learn.”
I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to work in a certain building or on a certain floor or chained to a desk every day. With hospice care, every day brings something new. I’m never going to have the same day twice. I’m never going to have the same type of patient twice. There’s enough routine to make it comfortable, but there’s enough variation to make it new and challenging. That’s what draws me.
In admissions, I’m the first person out. I have the first encounter with the patient and family. I carry my dog biscuits and my wipes and hand gel. You’re going into the finest of homes as well as the humblest of places. You’ve got to be able to fluctuate between the two.
Hospice nursing requires excellent communication skills. You talk on different levels to people. You meet people where they are and wherever they are in the process of their illness. If they’re in denial, if they’re in acceptance, or if they’re in anger. Whatever their need may be. You just walk in the door and immediately address whatever their top burden is.
I’ve come to know what’s important to people, and it can be different for each family. What’s important to one person may not be important to another person. I walk through the door and figure it out.
Hospice nurses are very knowledgeable about a lot of fields, and there’s always something new to learn. You have to know a lot about different disease processes. You’re not locked into a specialty.
From the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to work with terminally ill people. I had a personal experience with a terminally ill person in the home, which was my grandfather. Folks didn’t necessarily want to be around him at that time, but I did. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I planned my career that way.