Kathleen Kelly NP joined OHC last June to help with the pandemic.
She has worked at a construction sites, flu clinics, covered at Sanofi and an integral part of the Nurse Response team for Moderna. We are happy to have Kathleen as part of our team.
Here is Kathleen’s story:
It has been a pleasure being a nurse for 33 years. I am very grateful to have been able to take care of people from all walks of life, throughout the lifespan in so many settings to the full extent of my license. The seeds of my career were planted when I was a child helping to take care of my cousin and my grandparents. Observing all those interactions and being put to use was the best training.
My nursing journey has taken many different paths. I began my career in primary care on a Medical Surgical floor in a major hospital. I then worked in case management, hospice, family practice, internal medicine at the First Women’s Health practice in the country, and college health. From there, I focused on diabetes management in both hospital and outpatient settings, moved to occupational health/primary care at the worksite, and am now practicing occupational health in corporations.
I think the free model of primary/urgent care/ travel medicine in the workplace is the most unique job I have had and have enjoyed the most. I believe that this model should be re-created in most worksites to improve care and lower the cost of health care. The daily workplace interactions had the most value to me because they happened at the right time and space for the patient. We spend most of our lives at work and what better way to make pathways to chronic disease management.
My favorite patients are the ones that can benefit the most from our care. There is no more complete satisfaction that knowing that you were there for someone in crisis and did a job that no other person could have done at that moment.
One day, I tried to count all the patients that I have likely taken care of or otherwise helped. The number of patients would likely fill a major stadium. That satisfaction is immeasurable! My dream is to be able to positively impact the health of patients and improve the quality of care throughout the world.
I would like to share some things that I have had learned along the way of this journey that I wish I could have shared with my younger self:
1. Remember to care for YOURSELF!
When this advice is given to nurses, it is usually the last thing that is recommended. Self-care does need to be part of the nursing process. The trauma, stress and shift work that nurses experience or perform daily are likened to those in the front lines of battle. Fighting chronic disease is a battle. We lose many nurses to the physical and mental stressors. There is always a nursing shortage, there always can be more help needed on the frontlines- so make sure you take care of your health- body, mind, spirit and FINANCIALLY. Self-care in no joke. We are conditioned, maybe even genetically predisposed to putting others before ourselves. Build things into your day that nurture you. This pandemic has shown us that we need our sleep, exercise, healthy food and lifestyle, mental strengthening, and financial readiness so we have the ability to do the best work we can and by taking the jobs that mean the most to us.
2. Always be true to your patients!
They are not your “clients”, they are your patients. We are not selling widgets to them. There is a sacred ethical oath in caring for them. As the business of health care grows, be mindful that you will have many “bosses” that want something from you. There are more demands on nurses than ever before, which takes time away from patient care. It is our responsibility to meet the patient’s needs in an ever-changing healthcare landscape. Be on guard to put the needs of the patient at the forefront of your decision making.
3. “Look for the Helpers”
As Fred Rodger recommended, “look for the helpers”. Align yourself with others that forward nursing practice. Be on guard for those who do not value your personal development. There are people out there that do not have your best interest at heart- do your best to avoid those people personally and professionally.
Nurses are the very definition of helpers. We try to do our very best and when hope is small, we give peace and comfort. That quick report we give to a stranger on the next shift, bonds us to the next nurse. There is a never-ending chain of report that we are part of. That is the common denominator. We may work in different areas, but we are all of the same fabric.
4. Be open to where your path is leading you.
Many of us may not have had the luxury of charting a path from the start and being able to stay the course. Life gets in the way. Family responsibilities, unexpected circumstances or tragedy may change your direction. I thought I would be an opera singer out of high school. My realization that opera was not going be my path was a learning experience that has helped me in my professional life. Allow what you may perceive to be an imperfection in your life or career to instead be a strength that motivates you to be more diverse and better positioned to seek other opportunities, hone your skills, and guide your patients along their paths.
5. The goal is to be grateful.
Sometimes being grateful is difficult. Hard work and busy lives can get in the way of being grateful. This pandemic year, with its chaos and developmental delays, has brought us back to a quiet time of self-reflection and renewal, if we allow it. We honor the nurses and patients that have been lost to this pandemic- family, friends, and neighbors. As nurses, we always know that things could be worse. We must continue to move forward with hope and further health care improvements that will help the nurses of tomorrow.