Profile: A nurse walks into a bar...
Profile: A nurse walks into a bar...
As an on-the-go and in-the-know nursing professional of 21 years, Vance has found that her home away from home is sometimes on stage, and not just behind the podium during her lectures. “I love doing stand-up, and I try to find open-mic night when I travel,” she says, bridging into a sample of one of her Saturday Night Live-worthy parodies — a tongue-in-cheek twist on a pharmaceutical commercial.
Indeed, Vance has good comedic timing, and she's known to balance her personal and professional roles with a smile and positivity. But make no mistake: Geriatric nursing — and her three-pronged role as clinical affairs director for the American Medical Directors Association, consultant to the AMDA Foundation, and legal nurse consultant and expert witness for nursing home/elder cases — is serious business to Vance.
As the middle of three girls born and raised in Baltimore by an anesthesiologist father and mathematically minded bookkeeper mother, and jointly raised by a recovery room nurse stepmother, it seems Vance was destined to become a detail-focused caregiver.
“I grew up seeing their passion. I also loved science and saw my first autopsy at age 13. For me, there was nowhere else to go but healthcare,” she recalls.
Vance started in acute care nursing and may have stayed there had her diabetic grandmother not suffered a stroke and then lost a leg to an ulcer while in a nursing home. She passed away shortly thereafter. “It was two weeks before my daughter was born and I promised my grandmother — at her funeral — that I would do something to help long-term care.”
While Vance had experience working in home health and hospice care, she knew little about gerontology. She went back to school in 1993 and spent the next seven years as a long-term care director of nursing before landing her current role with AMDA in 2000. Managing AMDA's Clinical Practice Guideline Project, tackling clinical issues with AMDA's federal affairs department and generating fundraising and grants for the group's projects are all in a day's work for Vance. She's also been executive director of NADONA's Maryland chapter since 2003.
“She has a complicated and stressful job, but she manages it extremely well,” notes Charles Cefalu, MD, MS, chair of AMDA's Clinical Practices Committee. “She's accessible, very credible and is experienced at juggling many tasks.”
That sums up Vance's personal life, too. At 53, she's equally adept in her spousal and maternal roles (she has two grown biological daughters and a stepdaughter). She thrives on just five hours of sleep, loves traveling and writing, devours books — everything from the Bible to “The Secret Garden,” and desperately wants to learn Spanish.
She's also a runner, and credits her stamina, good health and toned biceps to her other love, evidence-based nutraceuticals.
“It's about aging well and being your best at any age,” she says. Nor does it hurt to make some time for laughter along the way.
Earns Associate's Degree in nursing from Catonsville (MD) Community College; works as OR nurse at Baltimore's Sinai Hospital
Serves as home health and hospice nurse for The Nurse Bank of Maryland
Serves as DON at Baltimore's Milford Manor Nursing Home
Becomes AMDA's director of clinical affairs; co-authors AMDA's “Protocols for Physician Notification” in long-term care
Receives NADONA's LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year Award
Serves as expert panel member for CMS study “Reducing Avoidable Hospitalizations of Nursing Home Residents”
Receives BSN from Regis University through The College Network