When I accepted a summer internship at McKnight’s, I thought writing and editing skills were all it would take to fulfill this position. Spoiler alert: I was wrong.
I quickly learned that writing long-term care news is like learning a new language — from the abundance of acronyms to the unfamiliar topics of Medicare payments, HIPAA enforcement and hospital readmissions.
While the task was daunting at first, I found support and encouragement from the experienced staff at McKnight’s. Their words and work ethic showed me that being an “expert” in long-term care was only half of what was required. The other half required having a passion for long-term care — which I saw in you, readers.
Apart from brief moments of writer’s vanity, I was genuinely surprised that people were actually reading what I wrote — and even wanted to dialogue about it. This motivated me to deliver accurate news and relevant updates about the latest healthcare bills, studies and lawsuits. Why? Because it became clear that a community of long-term care providers, legislators and workers do not see facts as sheer numbers or statistics, but as stepping stones to accomplish the shared goal of providing quality care for older adults.
I was fortunate enough to see the same passion in person when I attended the 2014 LINK LTC and Senior Living Conference in Chicago and visited Lutheran Life Community’s Lutheran Homes in Arlington Heights, IL. The delicious hors d’oeuvres and the insightful meeting with four long-term care CEOs at the conference were definitely highlights for this summer. But the one incident that I will never forget is the time I met resident Nora Hora.
Last October, McKnight’s senior staff writer Tim Mullaney wrote a story about Lutheran Home’s Shepherd’s Flock childcare program that featured a picture of Nora with a smiling student. As we were approaching the end of the tour, we happened to see her in the hallway.
The communications director excitedly ran to her and showed her a copy of the article, saying “Look Nora! You’ve made it big. Better get ready for all the phone calls.”
She smiled and her eyes lit up as she asked, “Can I really have it?”
This moment was beautiful for many reasons: 1) the personal interaction between an administrator and resident, 2) the sincere gratitude Nora showed, and 3) the opportunity to witness how meaningful writing can be.
So I thank you — McKnight’s staff, readers and long-term care workers — for teaching me to have integrity, passion and zeal so that I may write news in a meaningful way. I will carry these valuable lessons with me wherever I go.
Stephanie H. Kim‘s last day of her 2014 McKnight’s Long-Term Care News summer internship is August 12. She is about to complete her final year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.