“Just nine months into being a nurse, I detected a problem with a patient recovering from surgery and got him emergency care. I saw him a couple months later, and he thanked me for saving his life. That meant everything.”
Danielle, 25, works as a nurse in both home and hospital settings. For her Home Health specialty practice, Danielle provides hourly visits to help clients meet their short-term health goals—such as recovery from a surgery or acute event or helping someone better manage a chronic condition like diabetes or COPD. In the hospital, Danielle works as a medical-surgical nurse on a floor that recently converted to a COVID-19 unit.
She generously gave us some time to share her reflections on nursing, before and after what’s become the “new normal” in the Coronavirus public health emergency.
What attracted you to nursing?
I'm very dependable and compassionate. I love to form new relationships and get to know people, and I’m always thirsty to learn new things. I considered being a pediatrician, but I knew I’d feel more connected to the patients as a nurse.
I started with my Medical Assistant certification and then worked as a medical assistant in the hospital’s urgent care unit for two years while I got my BSN. Afterwards, about two years ago, I began working as a registered nurse in med/surg (the hospital’s medical-surgical unit), specializing in GI (gastrointestinal) care. I started working with BAYADA in the fall of 2019.
And did nursing turn out to be what you expected?
Yes and no. It’s a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, but in a good way. It’s very different than school—you learn by doing. But I’ve gained a lot of confidence, and no matter what comes my way now, I can tell myself it’s okay, you got this!
How do you stay confident?
That’s a skill I started learning in nursing school. I find an inspirational quote that I like and memorize it. So whenever I hit an obstacle, or if I was preparing for an exam, I would recite the quote a few times to myself, and it honestly would give me a boost of confidence.
What made you interested in home health care and BAYADA?
Actually, going back to school is what brought me to BAYADA. I’m about to start a six-month wound care certification program, and I wanted hands-on experience with wound care. We do get occasional wound care in the hospital, but there is a lot of opportunity to do that in home health. A colleague who worked for BAYADA Pediatrics suggested I apply to BAYADA.
What has that been like for you?
I loved BAYADA from Day One! Everyone is great. Communication is amazing—very quick. I actually like doing their documentation!
And they do great training. I worked with a preceptor for one month; she was amazing. The office is great; they offer to teach me and walk me through whatever I ask.
So how do you split your time now, and what do you do at both jobs, before and after COVID-19?
BAYADA has stayed more or less the same, before and after Coronavirus. I work per diem and see six to seven clients a day, once or twice a week, doing primarily wound care, since that’s my main interest. We’ve always had strict infection prevention policies, then and now, so I’m always properly protected. I do take extra steps to educate clients and family members on COVID prevention. The goal is to keep them out of the hospital and keep on progressing, so it’s important for us nurses to provide as much education as we can.
At the hospital, I usually work two night shifts a week, but when I can I pick up a third shift to help out with COVID care. It can be scary, putting ourselves at risk to care for the sick ones. But thanks to my dad, he always reminds me to be careful, not fearful. We are there not just to care for the patients, but we stand in as a spouse, a parent, or a friend for the patients, because visitors aren’t allowed in. That is a crucial difference nurses are making for patients right now.
And what would you say are the main differences between hospital and home care, under normal circumstances?
Well, at the hospital, I’d say nursing is more task oriented. It’s a busy floor, even on an ordinary day. I usually have six patients per shift, and I’m a charge nurse as well. (A charge nurse takes on managerial or supervisory responsibilities, in addition to patient care.)
The main difference with home care is you’re with one client and family at a time, so you develop one-on-one relationships and get to know people. I like the autonomy and flexible scheduling. It was a quick adjustment.
And what do you see for yourself, in the future?
I love mentoring new nurses and teaching them what I’ve learned. I love seeing the results afterwards—it’s inspiring! So I’m thinking about being a nurse educator. Maybe I’ll get an MSN. I believe nursing is lifelong learning!