I could hardly think of a more exciting time to have been an intern at McKnight’s.

In the short 12 weeks I have worked here, I watched the national healthcare debate unfold in the House and then the Senate. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released guidance about Phase 2 requirements. Experts worried about the long-term care workforce shortage. As the nation faces an opioid epidemic, the FDA established an Opioid Policy Steering Committee.

I observed and wrote a lot about the long-term care industry this summer, but one thing was consistent through all of it: Long-term care providers are passionate.

I wrote a coalition’s concerns over the BCRA’s impact on Medicaid. I learned providers are passionate about the need for continued Medicaid funding.

I reported on provider’s excitement about the introduction of an act that would give increased access to veterans for long-term care. Providers are passionate about accessible care, and the need for veterans to get the help they need.

I even got to attend the Pioneer Conference, where professionals spoke with such enthusiasm about creating culture change and focusing on person-centered care despite their peers concerns with the Requirements of Participation. What came across? Providers are passionate about their residents.

Throughout the summer, I spent a lot of time observing the struggles long-term care providers are faced with, but I also observed the passion long-term care providers consistently display. They play a crucial role in major transitions of people’s lives. They get to support residents who move into an unknown place, encourage them as they face new challenges and they may even be there in a person’s final days. For many providers, this is not just their job; it is their passion.

As a recent college graduate, it is refreshing to see that there are so many professionals who have found meaning and importance in their careers. While I have covered my fair share of negative or unglamorous long-term care stories this summer as well, it is inspiring to see the dedication many have to the industry no matter what challenges they face.

Today is my last day at McKnight’s, but I will always try to remember how the long-term care industry is full of passionate people. With the new laws, requirements and policies that I know will continue long after I leave McKnight’s, I would encourage you to remember why you went into the long-term care industry in the first place. All of you are inspirations.

Alyssa Salela was the McKnight’s 2017 summer intern.