Instilling a love of nursing at an early age

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Elizabeth Leis Newman
Elizabeth Leis Newman

One of the most rewarding parts of talking to employees currently working in healthcare is hearing how many of them come from families where the parents were administrators, physicians, nurses or aides. It's a testament to how excitement about working in healthcare can begin at home.

As we prepare to celebrate National Nurses' Week from next Tuesday to Monday, May 12, it's a good opportunity to check in with women such as Deborah Hester, a licensed vocational nurse and unit manager at Creekside in Texas.

Hester grew up surrounded by healthcare: She's the daughter of a veteran who was a medic during the Korean War, and a mother who worked for 19 years as a medication aide at Huntsville Health Care Center in Texas. Hester's mother died when she was 18, but Hester soon began working at the same facility as an aide, a job she found challenging. But it was rewarding to be around people who knew her mother, she says.

“A lot of the employees respected her a lot, and a lot of the residents knew her and me,” Hester told me. “My mom's work was always the best.”

Hester became an LVN in 2001, and realized she preferred working in long-term care.

“I could spend more time with my patients,” she says. “Long-term care nurses become a part of the residents' families. We're not here for the check. We really never leave. We think of them when we are on vacation. They are our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, our uncles.”

Hester has raised three children who are all interested in healthcare: A 15-year-old son wants to be a physical therapist, a 17-year-old daughter wants to be a speech language pathologist and a 19-year-old daughter is applying to nursing schools.

Hester has worked at Creekside for about 18 months and is working on finishing her RN degree. Her goals include being able to teach, or perhaps even becoming a director of nursing.

Nurses who are similar to Hester — who have a family connection, who work hard, who have dreams — are likely floating around your facility. Do you know them and their stories? I don't think that National Nurses' Week has to be about press conferences or Congressional resolutions or pins, although all of those things are nice. But probably what would mean even more to your long-term care nurses is to spend some time talking to them — maybe around a small celebration with cake and punch — and asking them about themselves. Ask him or her about becoming nurse, what he or she would like to achieve, and thoughts on how the facility can be more efficient.

These conversations are low-hanging fruit you want to grab and put into a pie: Easy to pick, with great rewards.

Elizabeth Newman is Senior Editor at McKnight's. Follow her @TigerELN.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.