By Angela Huffman
RN – Vice President of Clinical Services
My story is not a typical story of wanting to grow up to be a nurse. I was exposed to long-term care at a very young age, making rounds with my mother, who is a nurse in a “home for the aged.” At 4 and 5 years of age, I went from patient to patient as my mother gave the patients their medications and tucked them in for the night.
My dream was to perform on Broadway, but knew I needed to have a back-up plan, so I decided to go to nursing school. While attending nursing school, I knew I would need to gain hospital experience, but knew I would not establish my career in the acute setting. After gaining acute care experience I ventured into long term care to help improve the quality of care and services having had a poor experience in the facility where my grandmother resided. Once I started in long term care, I was hooked.
I have heard that many have the mindset that “nurses working in long-term care work in ‘the home’ because they are not able to make it anywhere else.” There is nothing further from the truth in that statement. There is a very specific skill set required for nurses to work in long term care.
The nurses are the eyes and ears of the physician, who do not see the residents every day and rely heavily on the nursing team to provide skilled assessments and documentation. In addition, the clinical capabilities in long term care a nurse may be exposed to are vast that include but are not limited to: IV therapy, Ventilator Care, Peritoneal Dialysis, Dementia Care, Medication Management, Wound Care, Complex Care Management, Behavioral Health Care, Diabetes Management, Rehabilitation, Discharge Planning/ Education
Personally, working in long-term care was more than just a job, the residents and families became an extension of my family. As I continued to grow in my various roles, my relationships with staff also grew. It was then that I understood my calling was to teach, train, coach nurses to be the best version of themselves.
In the past 30 years, all of the roles as a bedside nurse, nursing supervisor, nursing administrator, nurse consultant, compliance field investigator and nurse paralegal have provided many experiences, good and bad, to prepare me for where I am today. For that, I am grateful.
As I continue to learn and lead others, my goals for quality care remain steadfast, however, as I look to the future, I recognize there is more than just relationship, coaching and teaching. It is leaving a legacy. A legacy that those that I encounter will embrace the coaching and implement the newly learned knowledge to lead change to have an everlasting impact on decisions that will drive resident centered care, improve quality of care, drive positive leadership decisions and strengthen their commitment to caring.