If you are a nurse with loved ones counting on you at home, you know the struggle of trying to take care of your family, your career, and yourself—all at the same time. Nursing schedules can be demanding and inflexible, with few solutions for working parents and family caregivers. Now that COVID-19 has piled onto the existing childcare and eldercare crisis, working families are struggling even harder to balance their needs at work and home
How RN Michele Knight won the work-life challenge
RN Michele Knight has a blended family of seven, is back in school for her BSN, and works full time as a nurse. Her first nursing job, which she was forced to give up, was the night shift in a community hospital’s special care unit. She worked 7 pm to 7 am but needed to arrive early and stay late until the charting was completed. If something happened near the end of her shift, she could work 14, 15 hours in a row.
Michele is happily married now, but at the time, she was a divorced single mom. She relied on her mother and family friends to get her kids on and off the bus, fed, and cared for while she either worked or slept. “The hospital was an amazing experience; I learned so much. But I was low in the pecking order there, and calling out was frowned upon,” Michele remembered. “I could never attend my kids’ school events or take them out on weekends. Once, I’ll never forget, my son was six or seven and he told his teacher, ‘My mom can’t come. She’s nocturnal.’”
“We got to the point where I really needed to be present for my three kids, particularly my son who is on the autism spectrum and needed behavioral support,” Michele explained. “I asked the hospital to switch two of my days to be with them, and they said no. So I had to leave.”
Flexibility brings balance
Michele had always been interested in home health care, and when she called her local BAYADA office, they hired her right away. With the experience she already had, she quickly became trained and certified to care for adult clients with higher acuity, complex medical needs. Now she works days—ordinarily, five or six days a week. When her kids’ schools and summer programs suddenly closed for COVID-19, she scaled down to two or three days a week.
“BAYADA understands that life happens,” she said. “I get the schedule I need to be home with my kids, and I’m not missing out on life anymore.”
“I absolutely love what I do,” Michele reflected. “Communicating with my clients and their families, educating them, being there for them. It feels so good, the satisfaction makes everything worth it. When I come home, I may be tired, but I’m happy. Working here I can be the nurse I want to be, and the mom I want to be.”