Meet Indigo Zerby
For Indigo Zerby, caring for others is in her DNA. “Both my parents were nurses,” said the CNA from Shamokin, PA. “So, caring for others is part of who I am.”
Seeing her parent’s compassion, Indigo was inspired to pursue a career in nursing. She got her start by working in preoperative and post-operative care in a hospital setting. But with a two-year old son and a full nursing school workload pursuing an LPN certification – and ultimately an RN certification – things got hectic. “My hospital job didn’t accommodate my nursing school schedule,” she said. So Indigo turned to IntelyCare.
Working for IntelyCare, Indigo picks up shifts around her nursing school schedule. “I have seven years of experience in nursing homes, hospice, and hospitals. But since starting my education, IntelyCare has been my source of income,” Indigo said. “I’ve been able to go to school, spend time with my son, and provide for him.”
Freedom, flexibility and familiarity
Every nursing professional has their own preferences.
Indigo prefers to stick to a couple facilities to build connections with her patients and get into a work rhythm. With IntelyCare, there are enough available shifts at her favorite places that she’s able to nurse in the way that works for her.
In her hospital days, Indigo felt that “there was no time to build personal connections. It felt like a conveyor belt system: I get them in, then I send them home.” In long-term care, she’s able to build connections with her patients and understand them on a more personal level, learning their daily routines and when they feel off. “Sometimes, they skip their favorite foods or activities,” said Indigo. “So I check in with them to see if everything is okay. Sometimes they don’t come forth with things that bother them so it’s rewarding to be the first pair of ears on something that might save them.”
Working with seniors also helps her see the world from a different perspective and is one of the most rewarding parts of being a long-term care professional. “In the history books, you don’t get to hear some of the little details about how life was. When they were younger, they didn’t have phones so they’d sneak into each other’s houses to meet up… It’s a reminder of how the world is constantly changing. It’s refreshing and I wouldn’t get that if I wasn’t taking care of them in nursing homes.” When Indigo can listen to her patient’s stories and connect with them on a personal level, it helps her be a better patient advocate.
Being an advocate for patients
Nursing assistants are often the first point of contact for patients with both small issues and emergency situations. So it’s important that they understand their patients, advocate for them, and are trusted.
“I had an elderly patient whose daughter was paying a visit. She flagged me down and let me know something was off with her mother. She wanted me to reposition her mother because she thought she wasn’t breathing. When I repositioned her, I noticed something was off so I ran to get the RN. She had actually stopped breathing completely and needed emergency attention. Even in long-term care you have to be ready for emergency situations. People think it’s too sad to be around death all the time. But I find it comforting knowing that I can care for them, make them smile, and be a positive presence for them in their later years.”
For Indigo, the toughest part about being a per-diem CNA is gaining the trust of the full-time staff. “Even though I’m a regular at my favorite facilities, sometimes the nurses and LPNs don’t trust that I fully understand my patient’s needs and behaviors,” Indigo said. That’s why she documents everything she finds when she’s charting. “As long as it gets noted that something was said, there’s a better chance that others will follow up about the patient’s issue or change in behavior.”
Indigo offers advice for first-time per diem nurses and IntelyPros, saying, “don’t be afraid to ask for help!” She’s found herself at facilities that don’t give orientation to per-diem staff. “There have been times when I wasn’t even told the door codes to the linen closets and had to keep asking the full-time staff for help,” she said. “So if it’s your first time as per diem staff, don’t think you have to know everything! Ask whatever comes to mind and use the full-time staff as a resource to advocate for your patients and better understand them.”
Even though per diem nursing comes with its challenges, Indigo works as a per diem IntelyPro because it allows her to do more of what matters, whether it’s building her own schedule, earning more, furthering her education, or spending more time with her son.
Doing more of what matters
Coming home to her son, Theo, and three dogs always cheers Indigo up. “Seeing them is just the best thing after a tough day,” she said. “We love cars so we always find time to go to the race tracks almost every weekend. My father collects tractors and I like to race!”
When she lived in Ohio before having her son, Indigo used to enter racing tournaments in her free time. “The one thing racing and nursing have in common is diagnostics. The same way you have to pay attention to your car by checking up on it and getting a good feel for it, you have to connect with your patient and understand them to properly diagnose them to make sure they’re cared for,” said Indigo. “With a car, there’s usually an access port you can plug into to see what codes are on. But with a patient you have to talk to them and understand them on a human level to get those personal and medical insights.”
Indigo is set on finishing her LPN certification and broadening her nursing experiences even though she’ll always love caring for the elderly.
IntelyCare supports its IntelyPros the way they support their patients, allowing them the flexibility they need to pursue their dreams and spend time with their loved ones.
That’s why we offer a Healthcare Heroes Scholarship for our nursing professionals looking to further their nursing career.
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