As 2020 draws to a close, we want to shine a spotlight on the amazing nurses and clinicians working so hard to keep folks safe and healthy across the United States. That’s a tough job any year. But this year, with a global pandemic straining the limits of healthcare delivery nationwide, the task of delivering reliable patient care has been more challenging than ever.
And so, it’s even more important to offer recognition and support to these hard-working caregivers. With that in mind, please join us in congratulating Brandee, Eliza, and Felicia, the CareerStaff Unlimited (CSU) Clinicians of the Month for December 2020!
Brandee, a licensed practical nurse working in Minnesota, has been a clinician for 22 years now. A member of the CareerStaff network since April 2020, Brandee told us she decided to set her sights on a career in nursing after becoming a parent.
“As a single parent at age 31, I felt nursing would be a good career for me to enable me to support my two daughters,” she told us.
So far, working with CareerStaff has been a rewarding experience, she told us. And a big part of that fulfillment comes from getting to help out where it’s needed the most.
“My favorite time here has been getting to know all of our wonderful clients, and being an instrumental part in keeping them all safe so they may continue to be essential workers in these pressing times,” she told us. “There are many kind and lovely people at this facility, and it has been an honor to be a nurse here at this time in a pandemic.”
After so many years spent dedicated to patient care, Brandee told us that she’s noticed that people in memory care with dementia and Alzheimer’s “are getting younger.” And when it comes to happier news, she said her favorite memories involve the patients she’s worked with.
“My favorite memories are from working in memory care with elderly patients and their families,” she said. “The memories are of the smiles, hugs, and love I received, from my patients and their loved ones, on a daily basis for being an important part of their daily lives.”
Of course, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, making those types of personal connections has become more of a challenge. But she’s found inspiration in seeing those around her “have adapted and stepped up to do what is needed at this time,” she said.
“I have observed such tenderness in my co-workers for their patients,” she told us. “It is an honor to work next to them.
4 Quick Questions:
What’s the best part of your day? “Welcoming the workers into the building. I like to think that my smile and our beginning of the day chat, may start their day a wee bit happier.”
What’s the hardest part of your job? “Driving to work, or driving home if we have a snowstorm. I live an hour away, and that could become a two-hour deal, plus my 12-hour shift. But being a Minnesotan, we get used to this!”
What’s an accomplishment that makes you proudest? “My three daughters are awesome and I am truly blessed and it is an honor that they call ‘me’ mom!”
Is there anything you’ve learned over the course of your career that you think young healthcare professionals should know? “Patience and kindness are a must, no matter the situation … no matter.”
She’s just over a month into her first CareerStaff assignment, but Eliza is a seasoned clinical pro, having worked as a caregiver since 2005. Currently on assignment as a CNA with our CSU Kentucky office, Eliza’s dedication to a career of care makes her a fount of inspiration for those around her.
“I first realized that my career will turn out in healthcare when I was at the age of ten,” she recalled. “I always told people I would be a nurse. I find it to be a singular and privilege to share to play a part in the stories of my clients. Also, I cannot think of a more rewarding career.”
And after a decade and a half of working in that career, Eliza continues to find motivation in the day-to-day task of patient care. And a big part of that is making connections with people, she told us.
“The most inspirational thing about working with healthcare is that you will find all types of people with all types of people with problems,” she said. “It will be my job to meet them where their needs are and for me to deliver the best service possible.”
After a stellar career providing the best possible service, Eliza has plenty of insights to share. She breaks them into three distinct lessons:
“Empathy — it is important that you can emphasize with patients and the difficult situations that they are facing,” she said. “Communication — healthcare workers need to speak with patients and their families. And finally: Teamwork. It is important for healthcare workers to collaborate as a team to work toward patient care.”
4 Quick Questions:
What’s the best part of your day? “Where I can see all the work that is done and see my personal growth having an impact on my life to be most rewarding.”
What’s the hardest part of your job? “Getting to know the members of the team.”
Any advice to offer others? “Acknowledge that things are changing, realize that even good change can cause stress, keep up your regular schedule as much as possible.”
What’s your favorite CareerStaff memory? “My favorite memory about CareerStaff is after I clocked into my area of work and all of the patients started greeting me with warmth and was such a great experience for me. I feel so welcome and at home.”
Felicia, who’s been working with CareerStaff Unlimited Seattle for almost half a year now, has spent a lifetime in clinical care. She’s been a licensed practical nurse for almost a year now. And before that, she was a phlebotomist for 18 years! She attributes her mission of helping others to witnessing at a young age her grandmother struggling to adapt to nursing home conditions.
“When I was younger, my grandmother was in a nursing home and I witnessed the lack of care that she was receiving,” she told us. “I found myself going there and cleaning her up. She didn’t have legs and had dementia. Sometimes I would find her under the table and I would pick her up and put her in her chair.
“This got the ball rolling and gave me an inkling. My mother (an ex-nurse) encouraged me to get into the medical field. I started as a medical assistant and then became a phlebotomist.”
Of course, spending almost two decades as a phlebotomist gives Felicia a unique clinical perspective. And she’s proud of her focus on engaging patients during her time in that role — a focus that helped her achieve standout status in her workplace.
“When I was a phlebotomist at UCLA, there was a patient that no one could get a blood draw from,” she recalled. “When they called me in to give it a try, I did something that no other phlebotomist had done yet — I put my pride aside and went into the room and sat down and had a conversation with the patient.
“I got her story, she got comfortable with me, and she let me stick her. I found the vein and got the blood. She was so impressed. That day, as I went downstairs, something in my gut told me to buy her a card. The card was yellow, which turned out to be her favorite color. I just wanted to get her something to cheer her up and let her know it’d be okay — she was a cancer patient.
“You never know who you’re drawing,” she continued. “At the time I was in nursing school. She got my phlebotomy schedule and always requested me. One day I walked into her room and she told me to close the door. Her daughter was married to one of the gentlemen that donated to UCLA, and he had a wing. She had written a six-page letter to UCLA, and three of those pages were about me. I was in shock!
“She told me, ‘You showed me kindness. You didn’t come in my room with any kind of attitude. You spoke with me. You got to know me. Not a lot of people in the field do that, they look at us as numbers or as diagnosis and you saw me as a human being.’ In that moment I didn’t know that I was doing nursing. Just to know that I made some kind of a difference for her … to this day, she still calls me and checks in on me. That’s a memory that I won’t forget.”
Given her ability to connect with people on a personal, one-on-one level, it was only natural for Felicia to eventually make the transition from phlebotomy into nursing. And when it came time to make the change, she passed on her first attempt!
“I didn’t think I was going to pass and I was scared,” she recalled. “I studied every day. When I moved to Washington from California, I had six months left to take the test. My fear was to take that test. Every day I studied and quizzed myself about what I was learning.
“I cried when I found out that I had passed. That letter reminds me of where I came from and to always do my best and never mistreat a patient. I worked two jobs and went to school full time. Drawing blood at 3:30 am going to school at 8 am. I studied half the night. So, when I saw that letter, it was all my tears, all my hurt, disappointment, everything. It went away.”
That experience — preparing for the worst, even as you’re working your hardest to achieve the best — has been life-changing for Felicia.
“When you’re in it, you can’t see the end of the tunnel,” she said. “You just see darkness. I kept pushing myself to that point. It made me feel good to walk in those doors and to know that I had an opportunity.
“Before, I would wonder if I could even get an interview,” she said. “Now, they’re calling me with nursing positions.”
When it comes to that new career in nursing, Felicia told us that the biggest challenge so far has been knowing what call to make.
“When I’m seeing something and I need to think fast and I overthink it because I don’t want to make the wrong call, so I have to go and get someone. I’m still working on knowing what I’m seeing — I’ll have a gut feeling about something. But because I can’t call it on my own, I will grab another nurse and ask if they can confirm what I see. Still progressing in that area.”
And her long career in another clinical department is helping her adapt to her new responsibilities and helping her to relate and empathize with others in new ways.
“You never know until you’re in that person’s shoes. Sometimes as a phlebotomist I wouldn’t understand why nurses were persistently hounding at me. But now, I’m the nurse and I have the call light. Now I’m seeing that blood needs to be drawn right away because their hemoglobin is low and they’re at risk, something can happen to them if they don’t get their blood drawn right away.
“Now that I’m in the shoes of the person I couldn’t understand before, I am learning the why.”
When it comes to CSU, Felicia said that her favorite part of being in our network is the recruitment team. She told us that her strongest memory of working with CareerStaff was “meeting my recruiter,” who, as it turned out, had had coronavirus.
“I laid out a treatment plan for her,” Felicia said. “I told her to take a walk, even just around the block, and get some vitamin D. She gave me updates as she was getting better. I was so happy because she didn’t know me from a can of paint, but based on our conversation we put aside that she was a recruiter and I was an employee — we were just two women having a conversation and I just wanted to see her get well.”
4 Quick Questions:
What’s the best part of your day? “Towards the end of the shift, because I did 12 hours and I gave the best care I could give. If I didn’t understand something, I asked questions. I accomplished another night. Nobody died. Everybody was ok.”
Is there anything you think younger healthcare professionals should know? “They should ask questions. They should never take anything for face value. They should understand what type of questions to ask. If they’re coming into something new, they always need to be oriented and speak up.”
Any career advice for nurses just starting out? “You could be a nurse for 10 years but never have a specialty. Some nurses are geriatric but they’re not memory care. They need to understand what they’re getting into and how to maneuver when they’re there. What do you like, what did you like in your clinicals? That’s the direction you should take. Never limit yourself.”
What do you find most inspirational about working in healthcare? “The people. When you see them progress and get better from where they started. The healing process. Wound care — when you see how they slowly but progressively heal. To understand how the body naturally heals. Putting aside your selfishness and own needs to help someone else. That’s what it’s really all about — aside from the paycheck!”
Interested in joining professionals like Brandee, Eliza, and Felicia in America’s leading nurse recruitment network? We’ve always got great opportunities across the U.S.A.! Start searching for a new job now.