IntelyPro Spotlight Series: Catherine Wamalwa, RN

IntelyPro Spotlight Series: Catherine Wamalwa, RN

Catherine Wamalwa, RN from Allentown, Pennsylvania, shares her story about race in the healthcare industry. An immigrant from Kenya, she worked as a CNA for 10 years before becoming an RN. In that time, she learned a lot about family-caregiver relationships.

“I am a person of color. Sometimes when I walk into the patient’s room and tell the family that I will be their loved one’s caregiver, I can see their hearts sink because they want their loved ones to die in the arms of someone who looks like them – someone they trust. So I make sure I prove to them that they can trust me by conducting myself respectfully. When I treat families with respect, showing them I am compassionate and competent, they know their loved one is in good hands with me. Listening is the most important part of establishing trust and building relationships with patients and families.”

Catherine started her journey as a nursing professional when she moved to the US in 2002. When she arrived, she only had an associate’s degree in business administration and no experience in healthcare. So, after feeling dissatisfied with her line of work, her friend suggested that she become a nurse. “I kept telling her ‘I’m not a nurse,’ but she kept telling me I should first try being an aide.” The first shifts were challenging. But after about three months, Catherine started to love giving care. “In the nursing homes, I saw the suffering of another human. I felt compelled to do as much as I can to ease their stuffing. I’d give and give and give, but I felt that I still couldn’t give enough.”

Because she grew up in a place where healthcare was only for those who could pay, Catherine didn’t always think fondly of nurses. But when she came to the US and began her journey as a caregiver, she rediscovered a love for nursing. “Where I came from, many of us were poor. And if you’re poor in some parts of the world, you don’t get proper medical attention. When I was younger, I thought, ‘why would I want to be a nurse if they treat my grandmother like this?’ But when I came here and started as a nurse aide, I realized that I have to be the good nurse. It’s up to me to be the nurse I wish my grandmother had. Whether you make someone comfortable or save their life, they are always appreciative when you care for them well.”

After two years as a nurse aide, Catherine started to ask how she could become a registered nurse. “I am an ambitious person. So I asked my friend, ‘how do I become a nurse?’ The first thing she said was, ‘Go back to school. If you can get a degree in business administration, you can get a nursing degree!’ So that’s exactly what I did.”

Catherine moved around Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Maryland with her husband while completing her education and practicing as a CNA and LPN. “But my goal was still to become an RN. I wasn’t going to stop there.” She finished her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a focus in mental health as well as her associates degree in nursing and became an RN.

In Maryland, she worked for a community mental health service. “I dealt with the homeless and the drug afflicted population. Most of these people suffer from depression or other mental health problems. My job was to check up on them once or twice a month and give them their medication to keep them mentally healthy. It felt good to be a voice of encouragement and positivity in their lives.”

“I’m used to traveling around because of the time I spent traveling with my husband to his jobs. I like IntelyCare because I can move to new facilities where I meet new people – I enjoy diversity.” Caring for others is what drives her to be a nurse. 

“There is a difference between the suffering you encounter as a nurse and what you do with it. I realized that if you want to give the best care, the most important thing is to listen. Once you start listening to your patients, they will listen to you, too. When you’re faking, everyone will know. But if you truly listen with your heart, they will know you are genuine and competent.”

Sometimes patients and their families ask her tough questions. “I always say that, although death is out of my hands, as a nurse, I look at two things: The lungs, and the kidneys.” When Catherine demonstrates she is compassionate and competent, she gains the trust of her patients and their families, even when situations are dire…

“One time I had a patient with severe lung issues. By the time I got to her she wasn’t breathing. I administered the oxygen machine and told the aide to get the supervisor to the room with another oxygen tank. But she was gone for three minutes when the supervisor came. I started praying for her. It was a miracle that she started to come back. The heart beat monitor started to show 43, 44, 45 beats per minute. By the time five minutes had passed, her heart rate was up to 80 beats per minute. I said, ‘open your eyes,’ and she opened them. She was back with us.”

“After a moment like that, there is not much else to do other than to take a deep breath and enjoy your lunch break. Nursing homes are slower but sometimes you get situations like that.”

“You just have to do it,” she says. Sometimes there is no training in the world that can prepare you for the situations you may face as a caregiver. “But you just have to fight. Even when the situation is in the hands of the emergency paramedics, you have to fight to keep your patients stable until they arrive.” When she practiced community and mental health nursing in Baltimore, she encountered plenty of those situations. “I’m not an acute nurse. But it’s still nursing.”

After an exhausting shift, Catherine decompresses by tending to her garden. “I’m always trying to find unique vegetables from Africa to grow and use when I cook at home. For example, in the US we eat pumpkins. But in Africa, we eat the pumpkin’s leaves too. When I make the Kenyan dish, Ungale, I use those pumpkin leaves with sauce made from other vegetables in my garden.” A home-grown Kenyan meal is just what she needs after a long day.

Catherine’s children are grown and out of the house, but she and her husband keep each other company. “Sometimes I’ll get a call from my grandchildren telling me how school is going and that never fails to brighten my day.” Catherine likes to take it easy when she’s home, saying, “I don’t swim anymore or go out for long walks. But I enjoy gardening and I go to church every Sunday.”

To the younger nurses out there, she says that “nursing is a call. If your heart’s not in it and it’s just a job, then nursing is not right for you. I remember writing a paper for my BSN on Florence Nightingale and feeling so fulfilled and inspired to follow in her footsteps. Even as a CNA, whatever you do, do it from your heart. Your patients will know if the care you give comes from your heart or not.”

Catherine’s ambitious spirit and compassionate heart make her a caregiver we’re grateful to have in the IntelyCare family. With IntelyCare, she can build a schedule that fits her life while offering the ability to travel to new places and solve new problems that keep her nursing experience fresh. 

Our mission is to empower healthcare heroes to transform the way they work, changing their lives the way they change their patient’s lives. If freedom and flexibility plus quality pay and benefits sound right for you, then become an IntelyPro today.

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How Nursing Professionals Can Be Advocates

How Nursing Professionals Can Be Advocates

“Actually, right before you called I was helping save a man from passing out at the store…”

Tammy Koslowski is a CNA from Massachusetts. Just moments before our interview she was out shopping when she noticed a man who looked like he needed help…

“Earlier today at the store I noticed a man across the aisle. He didn’t look too well; he was leaning over his cart and he just wasn’t acting right. It really seemed like he was struggling so I went over to him and asked how he was doing. He said he was diabetic so I said, ‘alright, let’s get you some orange juice, sit down, and wait for assistance.’ I alerted the people around me that he needed helped and they were quick to respond. We called for assistance, got him some juice, a stool, and just looked after him. He seemed embarrassed but I assured him it was going to be okay. Then the firemen and paramedics came and took him to take care of him… And then I proceeded with my day… I definitely think it’s my instincts as a nurse that’s allowed me to help people in situations like these… It’s just what I do. It’s who I am.”

Tammy grew up in a military family of chemists. Her parents own a chemistry company, and her family wanted her to follow in their footsteps. But for Tammy, it just wasn’t her calling. When she was younger, she was the one in her family who took care of her diabetic grandmother. So caring for people has always been a part of who she is.

“I always wanted to be a nurse. When I was little, like in the 6th grade, we did an adopted grandparents program. When I went into the nursing home and saw nurses and CNA’s doing their thing; caring for people, I thought ‘wow, I want to do that’… It’s challenging because the pandemic made nurses gett burn out and irritated. They haven’t been able to give the quality of care they used to be able to give. And you can feel the sadness amongst the residents because they can’t see their family the way they want to. So my goal is to just try and do something to brighten people’s day even a little bit. And I’m just an easy going person so I’ll try to bring the life back into a facility when I’m working a shift just by just having a positive attitude so that it can rub off on other CNA’s and nurses.”

Trying to pick people’s spirits up amidst a pandemic, understaffed shifts, and lonely residents is exhausting. So when Tammy has a moment for herself, she likes to go hiking when it’s warm out. She’s also taught herself how to crochet blankets and hats. She enjoys reading Stephen King novels and is currently reading The Outsider. Being a Stephen King buff, she said, “I know they made a show out of the book recently, but Stephen King is such a detailed writer, it’s just hard to compare”. She also takes some time out of her schedule to go on a vacation to recharge her nursing batteries. She hopes to either revisit Aruba because of how relaxing her stay was, or to go skiing with family in Germany. Though big vacations aren’t safe at the moment, over the summer she managed to take a weekend to hike the white mountains in New Hampshire. “You have to make the time to getting out and staying active. It’s healthy for body and soul, too.”

Before using IntelyCare, agencies denied her from taking holidays off to see her family in Germany. But with IntelyCare, she’s able to work on her own terms which has allowed her to see her family more. For Tammy, the ability to have that flexibility is priceless. Before using IntelyCare she recalls her work feeling like “groundhog day; just the same thing over and over.” Staying focused and compassionate as a caregiver used to be hard for her when her days were like that.

“The last straw for me working in a facility was this: My partner at the time was in the military and was deployed. I didn’t see him for a year. I asked a month in advance for one day off on Veterans Day to take him out and I still got denied. It was devastating… They knew it too. They knew he was coming home for a month and they couldn’t give me that one day… That’s when I said, ‘no more’, and I put my two weeks notice in.”

Tammy’s biggest piece of advice for people is to do what makes them happy. People are drawn to nursing because they’re driven by a sense of compassion for others. But along the way, tough working conditions burn them out. So when she sees her fellow nurses and CNA’s experiencing burnout, she’s quick to recommend the solution.

“The other day I was getting some blood work done and the CNA was telling me about how she was a single mom and the facility was giving her similar problems. So I said, ‘check out IntelyCare. It’s going to help you the way it helped me’… I was actually on a zoom call with some other CNA’s for the nursing program I’m doing and they were talking about their less-than-great experience working with facilities and I just kept saying ‘I actually love my job now, it’s stress free’… And it’s crazy, I see it in other IntelyPros too. They’re just like me, they’re stress free and they bring such positivity with them. They have pride and confidence in their work, and it shows.”

Finding your voice in the workplace can be difficult.

For some, speaking up comes naturally. But for others, it’s challenging to feel comfortable advocating for their patients, coworkers, or themselves in a work environment. And to be honest, not all workplaces have an environment that encourages you to be an advocate. But in those environments, especially in the nursing, it’s even more important to find your voice before you feel burned out in your nursing job.

When something doesn’t feel right in your workplace, it can be hard to introduce changes in a productive way. These tips can help you advocate for yourself in a productive way.

Listen To Your Patients

Nurses have been their patient’s best advocates since nursing became a profession. One of the best ways to advocate for yourself is to listen to your patients.  Advocating for them is a productive way to advocate for yourself, so remember to value your patients and listen to their needs

Giving high quality care to your patients means that you’re engaged, focused, and happy at work. So if there are improvements that can make your work-life better, it can have a direct impact on the quality of care you are able to provide for your facility.

Talk To Your Colleagues 

It’s much harder to advocate for yourself when you’re doing it alone. If there’s something about your work-life that’s bothering you, bring it up to a coworker and see if they experience the same issues. You may find that you’re not alone in recognizing ways to improve your work. Sometimes you may find that multiple staff members are experiencing the same problem. In that case, there will be more of a reason for your facility to implement changes. 

But even if you don’t have colleagues that share your goals, it’s still important to keep open lines of communication between you, your management team, and your coworkers. As opposed to demanding changes, try to work with your DON and upper management to solve the problems at hand. A teamwork mentality goes a long way when solving the problems that affect your work-life.

Get Connected

Stay in-the-know about current topics, trends, and issues in the nursing industry. For example, joining the American Nurses Association is a way to tap into a support system and become an informed nursing professional. By joining organizations focused on nurses, you have the opportunity to make new connections, discover new opportunities, or get valuable guidance on how to make the most of your nursing career. 

If you ever need to propose a change to your facility management, remember to always be respectful of the different issues your administration deals with. Sometimes a facility simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to implement changes, even if your colleagues or fellow organization members suggest them. In this case, be open to working with your management team to find different ways to make positive changes to the work-life of you and your fellow staff.

Explore New Work Options

Caregivers often find themselves working with low staffing levels, rigid schedules, long working hours in an over demanding environment, little career growth opportunity, uncompetitive pay, and undesirable benefits. Innovative per-diem nursing options that bring freedom, quality, and stability to your work-life can help you solve stress-related work issues. 

Become an IntelyPro today if a nursing life you enjoy is what you need!

What Is An SRNA?

What Is An SRNA?

A State Registered Nurse Aide (SRNA) in Kentucky is called a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) in other states.

SRNAs are health professionals who offer nursing care services to older residents. A State Registered Nurse Aide is not a licensed healthcare professional, but the individual has undergone an approved training and competency exam program.

What Are the Typical Responsibilities of an SRNA?

A State Registered Nurse Aide assists patients with direct health care needs, often under a Registered Nurse’s direction. The typical responsibilities include:

  • Helping patients with daily activities.
  • Checking vital signs.
  • Lifting and moving patients.
  • Serving meals and feeding  patients.
  • Keeping the environment clean and sanitized.
  • Communicating with family members, doctors, and the healthcare team.
  • Providing emotional and physical support.
  • Setting up medical equipment and helping with some medical procedures.
  • Monitoring changes in a patient’s behavior.

Where Does an SRNA Typically Work?

Nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other post-acute care settings are the most typical places where State Registered Nurse Aides work.

Other healthcare settings including:

  • Long-term residential facilities.
  • Rehabilitation centers.
  • Hospitals.
  • Adult daycare centers.

What Are the Requirements to Become an SRNA?

1. Nursing students who successfully finished a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nursing Education program within the previous year can take the competency examination without undergoing nurse aide training.

2. Candidates must attend a school that offers an SRNA training program, consisting of approximately 75 hours of training.

3. Candidates must meet the following prerequisites:

  • Valid federal or state photo ID.
  • A high school diploma or GED.
  • Unlaminated social security card.
  • Proof of current immunizations and health examination.
  • Proof of current chest x-ray.
  • Pass a criminal background check.

4. Complete SRNA Training.

5. Pass the Competency Evaluation Examination.

6. After completing the NATCEP successfully, your name will be added to the state’s nurse aide registry.

What Are the Benefits of Working as an SRNA 

  • An opportunity to make a difference 

SRNA helps patients with essential services carry out daily tasks they struggle to complete, including bathing, dressing, eating, changing bed linen, and getting in and out of bed.

  • Job Stability

A career as a State Registered Nurse Aide provides an enriching experience for people who want to help the elderly, impact lives, and a job that doesn’t require earning a degree. It is also perfect for people that want job stability and opportunities to grow.

  • Earn more for being flexible 

SRNAs are paid more for working at night, weekends, and overtime. If you find the work hours comfortable, you can have more time off for family or pursue additional education.

What is the Average Pay for an SRNA?

Pay for SRNAs in Kentucky varies according to skill level, location, and years of experience. On average, SRNAs earn an average of $27.26 per hour, $4,725 per month, and $56,703 annually, according to Ziprecruiter. (Although with IntelyCare, SRNAs can earn 25% more than that!) Some other important factors that affect the pay are the number of hours you work weekly and your location.

Looking to Become an SRNA?

The job of a State Registered Nurse Aide is rewarding, challenging, and fast-paced. If you wish to become one, prepare for busy work hours as there is never a dull moment.
Honing your professional skills will help you bring your best and give the best care to patients. Continuous learning will help you grow professionally and position you for career advancement.

Be a patient listener, use your communication skills, and find a job that allows you to maintain a work/life balance.

Are you considering pursuing the fast-paced and rewarding work of a state registered nursing aide? Join the IntelyCare team today, and get an opportunity to give care where and when you want!

What Is An STNA?

What Is An STNA?

A State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA) in Ohio is called a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in Florida and Delaware. It is also called a Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNA) in New Hampshire.

An (STNA) helps patients with daily living and basic tasks, often under a licensed nurse’s supervision. 

What Are the Typical Responsibilities of an STNA?

An STNA provides a range of support services. Some of the responsibilities of an STNA include:

  • Monitoring patients.
  • Changing patient’s bedding. 
  • Helping patients move around. 
  • Aiding patients with their meals which includes feeding them.
  • Monitoring patient vitals. 
  • Bathing and grooming patients. 
  • Aiding nurses and doctors to set up for medical procedures and assisting them with it. 
  • Cleaning and dressing patients’ wounds. 

Most of these activities require physical strength as well as excellent communication skills. 

Where Do STNAs Typically Work?

STNAs work anywhere within the healthcare industry. They are primarily found in post-acute care settings where patients need a lot of hands-on help with daily physical activities. STNAs typically work in the following places; 

  • Nursing homes. 
  • Long-term care facilities.
  • Hospitals. 
  • Clinics. 

What Are the Requirements to Become an STNA?

Like other professional positions in the healthcare system, STNAs must be certified before working as nursing assistants. To become a State Tested Nursing Assistant, you need to meet the following requirements. 

Candidates must take STNA classes which can be taken in technical schools, hospitals and even the Red Cross.

Candidates have to complete the Nurse Aide Training Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP). This program contains 75 hours of training, of which 59 are in a class and 16 in a long-term care facility. At the end of this program, candidates will receive a Certification of Completion from the Ohio Department of Health. 

Candidates have to take the STNA certification exam, which contains a 79 question test. Successful candidates can then enrol in the Ohio nurse aide registry as a State Tested Nursing Assistant. 

What Are the Benefits of Working as an STNA?

  • Varied experience 

As a State Tested Nurse Aide, you’ll encounter different challenges and gain valuable experience that you can put to work every day. You’ll also learn about other healthcare industry areas and what you might want to do beyond working as an STNA.

  • Training is affordable 

You don’t need to spend a fortune to become an STNA as it is more affordable than other positions in the healthcare industry. Being a State Tested Nurse Assistant does not require a degree, and in places like Ohio, where the training is free in some areas, it’s an affordable career to take on. 

  • Flexibility

As an STNA, you have a lot of flexibility. You can choose to work part-time, full-time or even as a volunteer. Besides, you can even adjust the training classes to suit your availability. 

What Is the Average Pay for an STNA?

The average pay for Nursing Assistants varies from state to state. In Ohio, the average annual salary for an STNA is $25,111, with an hourly wage of $12.07. 

Advice to Become an STNA

The work of an STNA is arduous, physically taxing and emotionally draining but having the power to buoy your patients is fulfilling. So, be compassionate and selfless as you care for patients so that you can help them recover quickly. 

Are you looking to find a flexible and lucrative career in healthcare that also provides quality benefits? If so, then become an IntelyPro today!

Let’s help you find an opportunity to do what you love! 

 

 

What Is An LVN?

What Is An LVN?

Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) are known as Licensed Practical nurses (LPNs) in New York (NY) and all other states.

The job duties of LVN and LPN are the same. The only key difference is the name. Texas and California use the term Licensed Vocational Nurses, while New York uses the term Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

LVNs and LPNs work under the direction of doctors and registered nurses (RNs). They provide patients with basic bedside care such as  primary nursing care, documenting the performance of prescribed medical treatments, and so on. 

What Are the Typical Responsibilities of an LVN?

As an LVN, your responsibilities consist of the following:

  • Provide medical support to doctors, RNs, and patients.
  • Interview patients and gather information about their medical histories.
  • Provide essential care to patients such as helping them with eating, toileting, and bathing.
  • Take patient vital signs, including pulse, blood pressure, and temperature.
  • Review medical records and record new information.
  • Give patients prescribed medications.
  • Draw blood and forward it to the lab.
  • Setting up ventilators and other breathing treatments. 
  • Stock the supply room. 

Where Do LVNs Typically Work?

Most LVNs work in the following post-acute care settings:

  • Assisted living facilities.
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s care facilities.
  • Hospice care facilities.
  • Urgent care clinics.
  • Ambulatory surgery centers.
  • Home health care facilities.
  • Community care facilities for the elderly.

What Are the Requirements to Become an LVN?

As stated earlier, an LVN is also called an LPN in New York. To be licensed and registered as an LPN/LVN in New York State, you must:

  • Be at least 17 years of age.
  • High school degree or the equivalent.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Register and complete an approved (New York State Education Department) NYSED nursing education program.
  • Finish New York State mandatory infection control coursework.
  • Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) or any other recommended NYSED license examination.
  • Apply for an LPN license with NYSED. 

What Are the Benefits of Working as an LVN?

  • Start working early

Most Licensed Vocational Nurses complete their education and can prepare for a career within 12 and 20 months, while other nursing education programs require more than twice that amount of time to finish.

  • An opportunity to further your education

Once you earn your LVN certification and work for a period of time, you can study to become a registered nurse (RN). Furthering your education allows you to further your expertise in a focus area of nursing and increase your income.

  • An opportunity to make a difference

As an LVN, you’ll make a difference in people’s lives. LVNs are a source of comfort that makes them feel comfortable, adding to their overall well-being.

  • Flexible work hours

Since LVNs are required 24/7 and in high demand in New York, you can set your work hours to suit your schedule. This is ideal for good work/life balance and to people further your education.

What Is the Average Pay for an LVN?

The average pay for a Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse in New York, NY is $50,284 a year, $4,190 a month, and $24.18 an hour.

These figures vary greatly, suggesting that there may be more opportunities for increased pay based on experience and skill levels.

Advice to Become an LVN

As a licensed vocational nurse, you must be genuinely sympathetic to your patient’s concerns. Most of your patients experience an array of emotions while they are in your care, such as depression, anger, and anxiety. 

So if you have the attention to detail, patience, and the mental fortitude to care for patients during those moments, then you’re a good fit for an LVN job. 

If you’re looking for freedom, flexibility, and amazing benefits, then apply to become an IntelyPro today.